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Why is My Cat Throwing Up Undigested Food?
Posted: 03/15/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Cat , Health problems , Top Tips
Cats are funny, naughty, mysterious creatures. They bring a lot of joy into our lives, but also some real head scratchers when it comes to their health. If you have ever wondered, “Why is my cat throwing up undigested food?” you are definitely not alone. It’s one of the most common questions pet parents have, according to some of the vets we’ve spoken to.
Needless to say, it can be very alarming to see your fur baby throwing up so much. And there are many different reasons cats vomit – some of them benign and some of them pointing to a more serious illness.
In this blog post we’re going to cover some of the main reasons cats throw up undigested foods and what you can do to help them.
5 Reasons Why Your Cat is Throwing Up Undigested Food
1. Your Cat Eats Too Much (Or Too Fast)
This is one of the most common reasons why cats vomit up undigested food. When a cat eats too much or too quickly, it triggers the stomach to push that food right back out. This will usually happen within minutes of the cat eating.
Why do some cats eat slowly and not that much and others scarf down their food like their life depends on it? Well, if you have a multi-cat home, it may be that your cat is trying to ensure they get plenty of food before someone else takes it. This is a common mentality among cats who started their life on the streets, where food was scarce and competition for that food fierce.
If you have a cat that eats too much or too fast or both, there are some things you can do to try and slow them down and have them eat less food at a time. There are automatic slow feeders you can purchase, which usually entail a puzzle your cat must solve to get the food.
You can also simply feed your cat smaller meals throughout the day.
Speak to your vet to see what feeding techniques they recommend to help your cat slow down and eat less in one sitting.
2. Food Allergies
Many cats have a sensitive stomach, and often the ingredients in common commercial food can cause them to vomit soon after eating it. Cats, like people, can be allergic to grains, corn, and a variety of protein sources like chicken and eggs.
If you suspect your cat may have a food allergy, best to take them in to see the vet. Your vet can draw some blood and run a special test that will determine which foods your fur baby is allergic to. She can then suggest a brand of cat food that does not contain any of the harmful ingredients that may trigger your cat’s stomach.
There are also special foods on the market that break down proteins (the ingredient most cats are allergic to) into amino acids. The cat’s immune system does not identify amino acids as proteins and so your cat won’t experience an allergic reaction.
Cats are fastidious creatures and most will groom multiple times per day. As they groom, the tiny hooks on their tongues grab all of their loose hair and it eventually ends up in their stomach. Many cats have no issues passing that hair through their digestive system so it eventually ends up in their stool in their litter box.
But some cats do have a problem and wind up vomiting up large hairballs once or twice a week. And often this happens right after they have eaten, as their stomach is already feeling queasy thanks to the large hairball poking around.
And so up comes their food with a big hairball as well. This not only messes your floors and carpeting, it’s also very stressful on your cat!
There are some things you can do to help your cat with hairballs. To start, brush him each day so you remove that loose hair and it doesn’t end up in his stomach.
Second, you can try giving him Laxatone, which is a flavorful gel you can put in his food or on his paw to lick off. Laxatone helps get the hair through the digestive system.
And finally, there are commercial foods on the market specifically formulated to prevent hairballs. It’s always a good idea to speak with your vet to get some guidance.
4. Changes in Diet and Food
Anytime a new food is introduced to a pet, it should always be done slowly so their digestive system can acclimate to the new ingredients. But sometimes, for whatever reason, this doesn’t happen. And this sudden change in food can definitely cause some stomach upset and regurgitation of undigested food.
Sometimes our cats ingest things they shouldn’t and it can cause their digestive system to become inflamed. This inflammation in turn causes nausea and vomiting up food that hasn’t had a chance to be digested.
It’s always a good idea to determine what your cat may have eaten so you can eliminate that “thing” from the environment. Your vet may prescribe a round of steroids, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, to help calm your cat’s GI tract. The vet may also suggest you give an anti-nausea medication to stop the vomiting.
It’s always a good idea from time to time to take a look around your home or apartment to see if there is something your cat could get into that could potentially harm them. Many common houseplants can cause nausea and vomiting, and even death.
The above are the most common answers to the question “Why is my cat throwing up undigested food?” If you follow these guidelines, your fur baby should get some relief and stop the vomiting. As always, keep a close eye on him and if you think there may be something more serious going on (vomiting can be a symptom of other more serious illnesses such as kidney disease) take him in to see the vet right away.
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- Klinger, C., “Reasons for your Cat Vomiting,” Retrieved from: https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/why-your-cat-is-vomiting?
- Goodnight, M., “Why is My Cat Throwing Up Its Food?” Retrieved from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/cat-eats-and-throws-up-5070200#:~:text=If%20your%20cat%20vomits%20undigested,%2C%20depression%2C%20or%20even%20anxiety.
- “Cat Vomiting: Types and Causes” Retrieved from: https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/cat-vomiting-types-causes-and-treatments