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Why Is My Cat Vomiting Bile?

What Causes Cats To Vomit Liquids

By Madeleine Burry. September 19, 2013 | See Comments

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Why Is My Cat Vomiting Bile?

If your cat vomits a little from time to time, you probably just chalk it up to "they ate something they weren't supposed to" and don't give it a second thought. However, if your kitty begins to vomit bile often, that may be cause for concern. Find out more here about why your cat may be vomiting up bile.

If you see -- or hear -- your cat vomiting bile, what should you do? There are many reasons your cat may vomit, and while some of the causes are fairly everyday and aren’t a concern, other reasons for your cat to vomit require attention, or are symptoms of a larger health problem. Learn about some of these potential causes for your cat’s vomiting, what to do, and when you need to go to the vet right away.

What’s Causing Your Cat to Vomit?

When a cat vomits, it’s a symptom of something gone awry -- it could either be the result of eating something that’s not right for your cat, or it may be caused by a sickness or something systemically wrong with their health. The main potential causes of cats vomiting are:

  • Eating habits: Overeating, or eating too speedily, can cause a cat to vomit. Similarly, too much movement or vigorous exercise after a meal can lead to vomiting.

  • Non-digestible: When your cat eats hair (like their fur), house plants, grass, or any other substances that aren’t digestible, their system will respond by rejecting the items through vomit.

  • Diseases: Some diseases -- such as liver failure, kidney disease, or irritable bowel disease -- can have vomiting as a symptom.

  • Allergies: Food allergies, or food intolerances, can also lead to your cat rejecting a meal.

  • Parasites: Having a parasite can also be a contributing factor to vomiting.

It can be helpful to track down when your cat typically vomits -- if it tends to be just after a meal, it’s likely tied to either the food, or the speed with which it’s ingested.

Understanding Different Types of Vomit

Not all cat vomit looks the same, and you can get a sense of what may be causing the upchucking with a little inspection. Here are some of the different appearances of vomit, and what may be the underlying cause:

  • Undigested food: While this can be the result of your pet eating too quickly, undigested food in vomit can also signal that there is an obstruction in the cat’s digestive system. That’s a major problem, and a visit to the vet is definitely recommended if this continues.

  • Bile or yellow/foamy appearance: This type of vomit could be caused by a hairball, but it also can point to a kidney problem, infection, or endocrine issue. If this type of vomiting occurs frequently a vet visit is also recommended.

In general, keep an eye out for symptoms that accompany vomiting: if your cat also lethargic, lacks appetite, has diarrhea, displays unusual behavior, or hides from you, visit the vet to try to figure out the cause.

Potential Treatments

If your cat vomits frequently after meals, try feeding them at the same time each day, and feeding several small meals, rather than leaving out a ton of food. This can make their dining style less frantic. If you have multiple cats, give them separate feeding dishes, and make sure each is getting sufficient food. If you think the vomiting is in response to their diet, visit your vet to get a recommendation on an allergy-friendly diet.

If the vomiting doesn’t seem tied to meals, or to eating indigestible items, you should visit your veterinarian. They can provide a complete physical, and assess if there is some disease or condition that’s leading your cat to vomit bile. Visit your vet immediately if you notice your cat vomiting blood, since that could be a sign of very serious illness or injury that require attention right away.

More on Cat Health

The Best Food for Your Dog or Cat
The Importance of Taking Your Cat to the Vet
The Principles of Nutrition for Adult Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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