Does a Cat Throwing Up Require a Vet?

A cat throwing up can be a pet owner's worst nightmare. Though poisoning and parasites might spring to mind, your cat's vomit may simply be the result of a hairball, or a meal eaten too fast.

The most common causes of feline vomit are:

  • hairballs
  • eating too fast
  • eating indigestible food
  • food allergy
  • infection
  • parasites
  • poisons
  • diet change

Causes of Cat Throwing up to Treat at Home

Hairballs can be blamed for the majority of feline vomiting. When a cat grooms himself, he accidentally ingests strands of his own hair. Because the hair cannot be broken down in the feline stomach, it builds up, forming a plug. As a result, the cat will retch, in an effort to pass the hairball.

Hairballs in and of themselves should not be a cause for alarm, so don't necessarily call a vet. Most cats naturally cough up two hairballs a month. However, if you know that your cat is prone to hairballs and is experiencing constipation, you should visit your vet. This can be a sign that the hairball has become an obstruction in your cat's bowels.

Vomiting after over-eating or eating too fast is another easily treated cause of throwing up. If your cat is competing with other pets for food, use a separate bowl, or feed your cat at separate times. This will reduce the stress of eating, which allows your cat to eat slowly, removing the impetus to vomit.

A rapid change in diet may cause feline vomiting, because the new food isn't recognizable. Switch to the older food and gradually introduce the new food, in order to familiarize your cat with the new diet.

When Throwing Up Requires Vet Visit

Overall, the only time that cat vomiting requires professional diagnosis is when you notice bile or blood in the vomit. Otherwise, you'll do a fine job of treating your cat by yourself.

If you believe that your cat has eaten an indigestible, like a piece of plastic or a bone, you should consider seeing a vet. Your cat may be vomiting in order to dislodge the object. Strangely shaped foreign matter can damage your cat's stomach, and should consequently be removed by a skilled professional.

Cats that vomit after every meal may be experiencing a food allergy to an ingredient in the cat food you use. If the cat's stomach disagrees with the food consumed, he will vomit to cleanse himself.

Several gastrointestinal parasites can cause vomiting by obstructing the stomach. You should see your vet if you suspect your cat has come into contact with a parasite, as they can cause great harm and may be able to transfer to your other pets or family.

Common parasites that infect the stomach include:

  • hookworm
  • roundworm
  • tapeworm
  • whip worm

Poisons are one of the most dangerous causes of vomiting for a cat. Whether it's an interior cause, like human medication or anti-freeze, or an outside cause, as there are dozens of poisonous plants in the world, you should contact your vet immediately.