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If your cat throws up after eating or occasionally leaves a hairball lying on your floor, you may begin to wonder if there is something more serious going on. Here, our veterinary specialists in Halifax discuss why your cat may be throwing up, the symptoms they might be experiencing, and what to do if your cat keeps vomiting.

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My cat keeps throwing up, could it be a hairball?

If your feline friend has recently made their upset stomach known, it could lead you to ask, 'Why does my cat throw up after eating?' or 'Should I bring them to the vet?'. Let us dive into this further.

While cats generally try to hide any illness, they may occasionally show us that they are feeling unwell by vomiting.

This can happen because they are fighting an illness, have an internal health condition, or ate their meal far too quickly. In other instances, it may be that they've swallowed some fur while cleaning themselves and have expelled a hairball.

The behaviour of your cat, such as hunching over and making retching noises, can be similar for both vomiting and hairballs. Even so, there is usually a fairly obvious difference between vomit and hairballs once you see them.

Vomit can vary in colour and consistency, but there are usually stomach fluids, partially digested or undigested food, and, in some cases, a minimal amount of fur. Hairballs, on the other hand, will look like cylindrical clumps of fur, usually encased in slimy fluids.

Vomiting is most likely caused by gastrointestinal upset or other conditions or illnesses, while hairballs are a natural way for cats to dispel fur that has accumulated in their stomach from daily grooming.

Signs & Symptoms of Vomiting in Cats

Vomiting itself is a symptom, and usually indicating that there is an underlying health condition. There are also other signs that might suggest that your cat is feeling nauseated or generally unwell.

Some of the signs of vomiting and nausea in cats include:

  • Dry heaving
  • Loss of appetite
  • Licking their lips
  • Drooling
  • Excessive swallowing
  • Hunching over while standing
  • Vocalizing more than usual
  • Lethargy
  • Pawing at their mouth

My cat keeps vomiting, why?

Frequent vomiting is when a cat keeps throwing up, or has vomited several times, over a period of hours or days. This can also refer to cases where your cat is vomiting consistently, on a semi-regular basis, like after they eat a meal.

There are many potential causes of vomiting in cats. In some cases, vomiting may be a simple and non-serious cause that is easily managed, while other causes may require medical intervention by a veterinary professional.

Acute Vomiting in Cats

The possible causes of acute vomiting range from harmless to severe. Therefore, pet owners may benefit from knowing these causes in order to act accordingly.

Some of the common causes of acute vomiting in cats are:

  • Dietary reasons
  • Treats or milk
  • Eating too fast
  • Consuming foreign objects
  • Hairballs
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Acute kidney or liver failure
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation and/or infection
  • Pancreatitis
  • Certain human medications
  • Toxins or chemicals

Important: If you suspect your cat swallowed something toxic, call Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital, as your pet may require immediate veterinary care.

Chronic Vomiting in Cats

The possible causes of chronic vomiting in cats may require more in-depth veterinary diagnosis, care, and treatment.

Some of the most common causes of chronic cat vomiting include:

  • Dietary causes like food allergies
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Neurological disorders
  • Metabolic or hormonal imbalances

When is vomiting in cats a concern?

If your cat keeps vomiting food or fluids on an occasional basis, you can try withholding meals for 12 hours. You should continue to provide them with a few tablespoons of water every half hour or so throughout this period.

Once 12 hours have passed, you can offer your cat a small amount of bland food. If they do not vomit, you can continue to offer them small meals, gradually increasing them until they've returned to a regular feeding schedule.

If your cat keeps vomiting, whether after eating or otherwise, you should contact your vet or Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital immediately. Severe or excessive vomiting could indicate that your cat is seriously ill and requires immediate veterinary treatment.

Seeking Emergency Care for Cats Who Keep Vomiting

You should call your veterinarian right away if your cat has:

  • Vomited more than twice in a row.
  • Additional symptoms, like diarrhea. These could lead to secondary conditions, such as dehydration.
  • Not had any water for 12 or more hours.
  • Been previously diagnosed with any illness (such as diabetes, kidney disease, or hyperthyroidism). This is an emergency.
  • Vomited internal parasites (worms).

The skilled emergency team at Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital is available 24/7, 365 days a year, to provide vital medical attention for companions from Halifax, Dartmouth, and surrounding areas.

Our ER veterinarians also regularly collaborate with our veterinary specialists, as well as referring primary care veterinarians, to provide your beloved companion with the best possible care.

24/7 Emergency Veterinary Care

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat keeps vomiting and won't stop, please contact our emergency veterinary team at Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital right away. We provide 24/7 emergency care for cats, dogs, and exotic pets from Halifax, Dartmouth, and across Atlantic Canada.

My Cat Won't Stop Vomiting: When to Worry

Caring for Pets in Atlantic Canada

Our specialists are pleased to accept new patients by referral from primary care veterinarians. Our emergency service welcomes all clients – 24/7/365. 

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