Cat Vomiting: Causes and Treatments

Vomiting that occurs occasionally in an otherwise healthy cat is generally not a cause for concern. Vomiting that persists for over 72 hours with or without signs of illness such as appetite loss, depression, lethargy, or diarrhea can indicate a more severe problem and should be addressed. The fluids lost during vomiting result in dehydration which could be potentially life threatening. The food, acids and other material expelled during vomiting can in other cases be lifesaving. Since cats are naturally carnivores, vomiting is a protective reflex used to eliminate bones, for example, after consuming a bird or rodent.


* Hairballs are the most common cause of periodic vomiting.

* Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the most common cause of chronic vomiting. Vomiting hairballs daily is often the predominant sign of IBD in cats.

* Eating linear foreign objects – ribbon, tinsel, string are holiday favorites

* Parasites – round worms in kittens can cause vomiting

* Cancer – Mast cell tumors are a type of stomach cancer in cats that cause vomiting which may contain blood. The vomit may be blackish in color with a fowl odor because of the blood.

* Liver disease can result in stomach ulcers

* Chronic kidney failure

* Poisons – aspirin, antifreeze, plants, pesticides, cleaning agents, lead, herbicides, and heavy metals.

* Distemper virus in unvaccinated kittens

What you and your vet can do:

* Withholding food and water for 12 to 24 hours allows the body to recover and controls most mild cases of vomiting.

* Giving food and/or water at this time usually makes vomiting worse.

* Gradually reintroducing small frequent meals several times daily over the next 2-3 days resolves most cases.



* Nux Vomica 6c – Use for cats that acts moderately ill and want to be left alone or are hiding. No food 10 minutes before or after treatment.

The dosage is 1 pellet every 4 hours until the signs are gone. Discontinue if cat is not better after 24 hours. Continue up to 5 days if the cat is responding.

* Pulsatilla 6c – Use for cats reluctant to drink. Use same dose as for Nux Vomica.


* Chamomile Tea – This herb is soothing and relieves nausea. Use for mild stomach upsets.

Recipe: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 TBSP of the flowers, steep 15 minutes, strain and dilute with an equal amount of water. Give a teaspoon at a time after food and water have already been withheld for the first 12 to 24 hours.

* Note: Peppermint tea also relieves nausea but unlike dogs and people, cats don’t like mint.