Cat Throwing Up Food But Acting Normal –
Why, What to Do & When To Be Concerned

cat throwing up food but acting normal

May 19, 2022

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As a cat owner, you probably know that it’s not uncommon for cats to vomit. This is because they have sensitive stomachs and often eat things unsuitable for them just out of curiosity.

Although more often than not, there is no reason for concern if your cat is throwing up food but acting normal, as a good cat owner, you always worry.

 – And for a good reason, because vomiting can also be a sign of a severe medical condition that can be fatal if not treated right away.

In this article, we explain 

  • reasons why your cat may vomit
  • when you should be concerned, and
  • what you can do to ensure the health of your cat

My Cat Keeps Throwing Up But Seems Fine –
What’s Going On?

Cat parents know that cats vomit from time to time. However, it is not very pleasant to see your cat suffering.

The causes for which cats can vomit are many, from hairballs and food allergies to intestinal worms or pancreatitis. Vomiting is not always a symptom of concern, especially if it is not accompanied by other clinical signs.

Cats are very good at hiding their suffering, and you can’t know for sure if your cat is just having a bad food day or a hairball or is something much more severe.
– Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM

If your cat only vomits food but otherwise behaves normally, chances are it isn’t any problem. Maybe it ate too fast, or it was just a hairball.

What you should worry about is repeated vomiting, even if your cat is behaving normally. Vomiting that is accompanied by other symptoms should also make you think if there is something wrong with your cat.

10 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Throwing Up Food (But Acting Normal)

When a cat vomits but behaves normally afterward, it is not a cause for concern, especially if there are no other noticeable symptoms.

Occasional vomiting is not necessarily a problem, but in some cases, it can be a sign of a health issue.

If vomiting is accompanied by loss of appetite, weight loss, lack of energy, or other symptoms that change your cat’s behavior, then you should be alarmed.

These are the common causes why your cat is vomiting food:

1. Hairballs

Cats are well known for being very clean pets. They like to groom obsessively. The tongue of a cat acts like a comb due to the hook-shaped papillae on the surface. When cats groom, they also swallow hair that becomes a hairball in their stomach.

Cats with long hair will throw up hairballs more often than those with short hair.

The more hair accumulates in the stomach, the more the cat can develop so-called ”hair gastritis” – a medical condition in which the hair in the stomach can damage the stomach lining.

This leads to discomfort and several symptoms, including vomiting (with or without hairballs), loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain. 

In general, hairballs are not something to worry about unless your cat often vomits hair or has any of the above symptoms.

My Cat Keeps Throwing Up But Seems Fine

2. Food Allergies

Cats can be allergic to different things, just like humans. Some of the most common allergens for cats are different foods. These allergies can occur at some point throughout life. Often, cat owners are surprised when their cat begins to show certain symptoms when eating their favorite food.

If your cat suddenly started vomiting food, you may suspect a food allergy. In addition to vomiting, cats may experience diarrhea, weight loss, ear infections, skin problems (itching, excessive scratching, redness, hair loss in places), and/or respiratory problems (heavy breathing, wheezing).

Food allergies are a medical condition that should worry you. Contact your veterinarian if any symptoms occur.

3. Improper diet

A balanced diet and high-quality cat food, which gives your cat all the nutrients its body needs, should never make a cat vomit. If the food you give your cat is low in protein and has too many fillers, preservatives, or artificial flavors, it may cause vomiting.

You should not be alarmed if your cat vomits due to food; you just need to change its food to a suitable one, and if the symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian.

4. Changing your cat’s food

Sometimes changing your cat’s food can have side effects until their body gets used to the new diet. In such a case, the cat may vomit immediately or shortly after eating. To prevent adverse effects of a diet change, make the change slowly by replacing only a small part of the old food with the new one and gradually increasing the amount.

If your cat is still throwing up due to the new diet after a few days of starting the new cat food, go back to its old food and contact your veterinarian.

5. Toxins

Many of the foods we eat are toxic to pets. These, if ingested, could cause vomiting and other clinical signs such as lethargy, shortness of breath, increased thirst, seizures, incoordination, or kidney and liver failure. If not intervened in time, some can even cause the death of your pet.

Toxic foods for cats are 

  • onions
  • garlic
  • chocolate
  • grapes
  • raisins,
  • beverages containing caffeine
  • alcohol
  • raw eggs
  • raw dough
  • products that contain xylitol

Dairy products are not considered toxic but can cause gastrointestinal disorders, including vomiting and diarrhea – most cats become lactose intolerant with age.

Also, antifreeze, lead, and a wide variety of houseplants and household chemicals can be toxic to our little felines and can cause vomiting and other clinical changes.

If you suspect that your cat has consumed something potentially toxic, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

6. Eating Too Fast

Cats usually eat food too fast because they are competing with another pet or are simply greedy. They do not give food sufficient time to reach their stomach, so it remains in the esophagus and builds up. Cats have a horizontal esophagus, not a vertical one, and because of this, gravity does not help them push food down. When the esophagus is full, the cat will regurgitate food, not vomit it.

If your cat eats too fast, you shouldn’t be alarmed, but keep in mind that it can lead to gastritis or ulcer over time.

7. Eating too much

Cats should eat small portions throughout the day (2-5 servings). 

Unfortunately, many times, we may be away from home for a long time, and we need to leave more food out for them. Due to having large amounts of food available, some cats can eat too much at once and end up vomiting all they have consumed.

This problem is also common in households with multiple cats. Out of greed, cats can quickly ingest everything they have on their plate to eat the other’s food too.

Eating too much is not something that should worry you unless your cat does it constantly. In this case, you need to think about changing your cat’s feeding habits.

8. Obstruction

Cats are among the most curious animals, and their curiosity can often cause them trouble. You’ve probably seen your cat eating something it shouldn’t have a few times by now.

Small objects that can pass through the digestive tract without problems are not something to worry about. Larger objects, on the other hand, that cannot pass through the digestive tract are often eliminated by vomiting.

 Your cat will eat and behave normally but will vomit food from time to time until it vomits the swallowed object. If your cat does not remove the object through vomiting, it can lead to serious medical complications that require surgery.

Also, if there is an obstruction further down the digestive tract, your cat may vomit because the food is not able to move forward.

If you suspect your cat has a gastrointestinal obstruction, contact a veterinarian immediately for medical help.

9. Worms

Intestinal parasites are always a neglected cause when it comes to vomiting in cats. Although worms are found especially in kittens, they can also be found in adult cats, mainly those that go outside.

Intestinal parasites invade the cat’s digestive tract, causing discomfort, bloating, pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss. In massive infestations, cats can even vomit or cough up worms.

If your cat has an enlarged abdomen, eats, but keeps losing weight, or vomits worms, deworming would be the next step, but not before contacting your veterinarian.

10. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a condition where the cat lacks digestive enzymes and can no longer process food properly.

Pancreatitis usually comes with vomiting, fever, clay-like diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain. 

If, in addition to vomiting, you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Vet’s Tip

In most cases, there is no need to panic when the cat vomits but behaves normally. However, the best advice is to contact your veterinarian if the vomiting recurs.

When Should I Worry About My Cat Vomiting Food? Vet Explains

As you can see, there are many reasons why a cat can vomit and behave normally.

Usually, the diseases that can endanger your cat’s life and should worry you come with other symptoms besides vomiting, such as:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain

If your cat is vomiting but acting normal, usually there is nothing to worry about. But because it’s always better to be safe than sorry, talk to your vet about your cat’s behavior. Cats are very good at hiding their suffering, and you can’t know for sure if your cat is just having a bad food day or a hairball or is something much more severe.

Also, keep in mind that a cat should never be left without food for more than 48 hours, even if it behaves normally because it can develop hepatic lipidosis – a medical condition that can be fatal for cats.

Also Read: Cat Not Eating And Hiding

How To Prevent A Cat From Vomiting Food

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In order to prevent vomiting effectively, you must first figure out what is causing it.

  • To determine the cause of vomiting, you should go with your cat to the vet first. After questioning and examining your cat, they will figure out what is causing the vomiting.
  • Cats that eat fast can benefit from a bowl that encourages them to eat slowly. There is a wide variety of food bowls you can choose from.

    We recommend:

    Petstages Kitty Slow Feeder Cat Bowl
  • Feed your cats in separate rooms if you have more pets and at least one is greedy.
  • Feed your cat five meals per day instead of two if it eats too much at once. It will help reduce the chances of vomiting.
  • Don’t give milk to your cat. It is known that most cats become lactose intolerant with age which can cause them to vomit.
  • If you have toxic plants in your home, move them to a place inaccessible to your cat. Most ornamental plants are toxic to cats and can even cause death.
  • Do not allow cats to eat onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, etc. They are toxic to pets and can cause severe symptoms.

Summing Up

It can be distressing to see your cat vomit, and often you may wonder if there is reason for concern. Luckily, if your cat is vomiting but acting normal, there is usually nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, if your cat is suffering from other symptoms as well, or you’re suspecting something more severe than just hairballs or eating too fast, it’s always better to contact a vet as soon as you can.

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Vet’s Comment

Having cats can be a blessing! But it can also be a pain in the rear when you have to keep an eye out all the time. 

They can eat your plants, buttons, marbles, strings, anything that fits into their mouth! Even if the object doesn’t fit, cats will chew on it until it does!

Many reasons may cause a cat to vomit, including eating objects around the house. Most of the time, they are eliminated with vomiting or feces. If the object is too large, it can cause intestinal obstruction, and the cat will need surgery.

In most cases, there is no need to panic when the cat vomits but behaves normally. However, the best advice is to contact your veterinarian if the vomiting recurs.

– Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM

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