Types of Cat Vomit and What It Means
If you have a cat, you have most likely seen it throw up at one time or another. Vomiting in cats is something common, and in most cases, you do not need to rush them to the vet. Your cat vomiting does not necessarily mean it’s sick. It could be a minor stomach upset caused by a change in their diet.
There are different types of cat vomit and each one means something. But before we dive into what each type of vomit means, it’s important for you to know the most common causes of vomit in cats.
What causes vomiting in cats?
Most cats will vomit when sick, which means it is hard to tell what the actual cause is. However, the most common causes of feline vomiting include:
- Toxins and drugs
- Change in diet or treats
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Swallowing foreign objects
- Allergic reactions to food
- Eating too fast
- Hepatic lipidosis
- Intestinal parasites
- Neurological disorders
- Chronic health conditions e.g. cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease
Now that you know the common causes of vomiting in cats, let us have a look at what each vomit means.
Types of cat vomit and what it means (Pictures)
Let us first understand the different types of cat vomit before we dive into what each means. The appearance and composition of the vomit give an insight into the cat’s health and the likely causes. That said, here are the most common types of cat vomit in pictures and what each means:
#1. Undigested food vomit
If your cat vomits undigested food after eating, it could be for many reasons including eating too fast or eating more than they should. Undigested food vomit in cats can also be an indication of the presence of parasites or stomach obstructions.
Foreign objects such as strings, toys, or even Airpods can cause stomach obstructions, making your cat vomit undigested food. A one-time occurrence of undigested food vomit is okay, but if it happens more than once then you should consult a vet.
#2. Partially digested food vomit
A cat may vomit partially digested food after eating too fast or if the food did not go well in the stomach, which could be due to a change in diet. Other causes of partially digested food vomit include thyroid issues, parasites, and inflammatory bowel disease.
If your cat is a healthy eater but cannot put on some weight, has irregular bowel movements, and often vomit partially digested food, there could be a serious health issue that needs the intervention of a veterinarian. However, you shouldn’t worry if this is a one-off occurrence.
#3. Foamy vomit
Most pet owners get terrified the moment they see their lovely feline friend having foamy vomit. However, it is not a serious issue in most cases. The foam forms when the vomit meets the air in the mouth. The dry heaving motion makes the air move back and forth fast in the mouth, which causes the foam to build up.
#4. Liquid vomit
Another type of cat vomit is liquid vomit, which in most cases indicates the absence of anything in the cat’s stomach. In this case, you should feed your cat and make sure she’s well-hydrated.
Cat vomit color chart
While we have highlighted the types of cat vomit and what it means, you should also pay attention to the color of the vomit. Common cat vomit colors include yellow, red, green, white, brown, and black. So, what does each vomit color mean?
#1. Yellow vomit in cats
There is a close connection between yellow vomit and stomach acid & bile. In most cases, a cat vomiting yellow liquid and froth means the stomach is empty. However, you need to consult your veterinarian if this happens frequently because your cat could be suffering from a serious disease, such as liver disease.
#2. Green liquid vomit in cats
Green vomit in cats could be due to different reasons including food the cat ate, chewing grass or catnips, or something else. Green vomit can also signify gastrointestinal obstruction. Signs such as lack of appetite, lethargy, and not being able to keep the water down could mean your cat is suffering from gastrointestinal obstruction. You should take your cat to the vet if this is the case.
#3. Red liquid vomit in cats
Red liquid vomit in cats can mean the cat ate food dyed in vibrant colors or it has a serious health issue such as gastrointestinal bleeding, liver disease, severe gastrointestinal upset, or stomach irritation. You should seek immediate vet assistance if it is the first time your cat is vomiting red liquid and you’re absolutely certain food is not the likely cause.
#4. Brown liquid vomit in cats
Brown liquid vomit in cats can be due to the food the cat ate, the presence of frank blood in the vomit, or gastrointestinal blockage by a foreign object. It can also mean the cat is suffering from a serious health problem such as fecal impaction, gastrointestinal tumor, or even cancer. You should take your cat to the vet if she frequently vomits brown liquid.
$5. White liquid vomit in cats
White, clear liquid vomit is usually a sign of an empty stomach but can also mean your cat has gastritis or food intolerance. You should seek veterinary help for your cat if this happens on more than one occasion within a short period.
#6. Black vomit in cats
Black vomit often indicates gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be something serious. Digestive blood can also turn into a darker shade of black and brown after the cat vomits. Seek immediate help for your cat if it throws up black liquid vomit.
Diagnosing the cause of vomiting in cats
Your vet will conduct a few tests to understand the likely cause of the vomit. The examination will probably include:
- Blood tests
- Abdominal X-rays
- Barium study
- Exploratory surgery
Treatment for vomiting in cats
The treatment will depend on the cause. A cat suffering from vomiting caused by an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract may need to undergo surgery to completely remove the object. The vet will prescribe medications and recommend dietary changes if the cat is suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, has stomach issues, or is allergic to certain foods. Antacids and antemetic medications will be the solution if the cause is gastroenteritis or hairballs.
How to prevent vomiting in cats
A few adjustments you can make to prevent vomiting in cats include:
- Using cat food with hairball formula
- Feeding your cat small portions
- Using specialized feeding and water bowls
- Slow-feeding your cat
However, you should take your cat to the vet if you do all these but still cannot stop vomiting. The cause could be something serious.
Home remedies for cat vomiting
If you do not want to visit the vet and end up spending hundreds of dollars, you can try a few home remedies to stop your cat from vomiting. Things you can do include:
- Do not feed your cat for 24hrs but instead give them water in small amounts
- After 24hrs, give your cat bland food such as boiled chicken, cooked squash, or cooked yams
- Continue with this diet for 3-5 days but in small quantities
- If vomiting stops, you can start to mix regular cat food with bland food
- After 7 days, make sure your cat is drinking enough water
You should seek veterinary help in case your cat keeps vomiting after trying this, especially if you notice red or black vomit.
When to see a vet about a vomiting cat
You should see a vet about a vomiting cat if the vomit is black or red in color, if your cat keeps throwing up after every meal, and if you suspect your cat may be suffering from a serious health problem. These are genuine reasons to be concerned about your cat throwing up.
Vomiting in cats is something that happens most of the time. However, you should be keen to observe the appearance of the vomit, including its content and whether there are signs of blood. You should also seek immediate vet assistance if you notice symptoms of a serious health problem.