Feline Eating Behavior: Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Undigested Food

Cats are fascinating and enigmatic creatures, bringing joy and companionship to countless households. However, one common concern that troubles cat owners is when their feline companions begin throwing up their food. Why is my cat throwing up undigested food?

This unsettling behavior can be distressing and leaves many pet owners wondering about the underlying causes. Understanding why cats vomit their food is essential for providing proper care and ensuring the well-being of these beloved pets.

This article will explore ten impressive topics that delve into why cats may be throwing up their food.

From gastrointestinal disorders and food allergies to hairballs and stress-induced vomiting, each topic offers valuable insights to empower cat owners with the knowledge to recognize, prevent, and address this puzzling issue.

By shedding light on these matters, we hope to assist cat owners in providing the best possible care for their feline companions and promote a deeper understanding of their unique health needs.

We will give you a detailed answer: “Why is my cat throwing up undigested food?”

What Is the Difference Between Vomiting and Regurgitation?

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

You need to tell the difference between when a cat is vomiting and when it is regurgitating. This helps them to understand what health problems the cat may have.

Vomiting and regurgitation are ways substances come out of your body through your mouth, but they are different processes with separate reasons and characteristics.

Here is a comparison of the two things.




Definition Throwing up is when your stomach pushes out undigested food, water, and bile through your mouth.

It is a complex reflex involving the coordination of various body systems to push the contents out.

A passive process in which the contents from the mouth or esophagus are expelled without forceful contraction of the abdominal muscles.

Regurgitated material has not yet reached the stomach and appears relatively undigested.

Mechanism The brainstem’s vomiting center, which is sensitive to different things like harmful substances, infections, or blockages in the digestive system, can cause vomiting.

This means doing a set of actions together, like gagging, squeezing your stomach, and relaxing a ring of muscles in your throat.

Usually caused by issues with the esophagus, such as motility disorders or structural abnormalities.

It occurs when the esophagus fails to propel food down to the stomach, leading to passive expulsion from the mouth.

Characteristics Vomited material comes from the stomach and is typically mixed with stomach acids, giving it a sour or acidic odor and appearance.

Cats may show signs of nausea, drooling, and vocalization before vomiting occurs.

Regurgitated material is relatively undigested and lacks stomach acid, making it less foul-smelling and often resembling the original ingested substance.

Usually, regurgitation does not make a person gag or make any sounds.

Timing Can happen because of many reasons, like things that irritate the stomach and intestines, harmful substances, infections, pancreatitis, kidney disease, or problems with the inner ear or feeling sick when moving. Is often linked to problems with the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.

These problems can include the tube becoming larger than normal, the tube becoming narrow, something getting stuck in the tube, or conditions that affect how the tube moves.

Put, vomiting is when your stomach forcefully throws up its contents. It can happen for different reasons related to your stomach or other body parts.

Regurgitation is when food that hasn’t been appropriately digested comes out of the mouth because of problems with the esophagus. It happens without any effort from the person.

Understanding the differences between the two can help vets and pet owners figure out why their cats are having issues and give them the proper treatment.

Common Causes of Your Cat Vomiting or Regurgitating

Vomiting and regurgitation are not uncommon issues faced by cat owners, and understanding the underlying causes can be crucial in providing appropriate care for our feline companions.

While occasional vomiting or regurgitation may not always cause concern, chronic or frequent occurrences can indicate an underlying health problem.

Here are some common causes why your cat may be experiencing these gastrointestinal disturbances:

Eating Too Fast

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Some cats are enthusiastic eaters and may gobble down their food too quickly. This rapid consumption can lead to regurgitation of undigested food, especially if the cat swallows large amounts of air along with the food.

To address this, feeding your cat out of a food puzzle toy can help slow them down during mealtime.

These toys provide mental stimulation and enrichment and encourage slower eating, reducing the chances of regurgitation.

However, if the issue persists despite using food puzzles, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian to rule out other potential causes.

Food Allergies

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Food allergies can cause cats to vomit up partially digested or undigested food. Cats with sensitivities to certain ingredients in their diet may exhibit a “scarf and barf” behavior.

If your veterinarian has ruled out other medical issues, they may recommend trying a commercial-sensitive systems food or a strict, hydrolyzed protein diet.

Hydrolyzed diets contain protein broken down into individual amino acids, reducing the risk of triggering an allergic response.


why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Cats are meticulous groomers, and they may ingest loose and dead hair during their grooming routine.

While most of this hair passes through the digestive tract without issues, some hair may accumulate in the stomach, forming hairballs.

Hairballs can lead to vomiting, especially if they become too large to quickly pass through the digestive system.

Regular brushing can help remove loose fur from your cat’s coat, reducing the hair they ingest during grooming.

Over-the-counter dietary supplements designed to aid in hairball prevention can also be helpful.

Food and Dietary Changes

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Abrupt changes in your cat’s feeding schedule or diet can trigger vomiting or regurgitation. Cats like having a routine and get upset if anything changes suddenly, like their routine or food, which can make their stomachs feel bad.

When changing your cat’s food, it’s essential to do it slowly over one to two weeks. Reduce the amount of the old food while slowly adding more of the new food.

Furthermore, if you skip a meal or eat later than your usual time, it can also lead to regurgitation.


why is my cat throwing up undigested food

If your cat likes to eat things that are bad for them, they might get a tummy ache called gastritis when their stomach gets irritated. You may vomit undigested food, blood, or bile when you have gastritis.

Other signs might be not feeling hungry or tired and needing more water. If you think your cat has stomach inflammation, getting help from a vet is essential.

Motility Disorders

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Motility disorders can affect food movement through the digestive tract, leading to vomiting or regurgitation. These problems can happen when different illnesses or diseases affect the stomach and intestines.

Esophageal Irritation

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

When the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach gets irritated, it can make you bring back up what you ate.

Esophageal inflammation can happen from things like acid coming back into the esophagus, problems with how the esophagus moves, or when something from outside gets stuck in the esophagus.


why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Some bugs, like roundworms or tapeworms, can infect a cat’s belly and make them throw up.


why is my cat throwing up undigested food

When a cat is severely constipated, it can throw up food that hasn’t been digested properly. When the digestive system becomes obstructed, the cat may vomit partially digested material.

Intestinal Obstruction

Swallowing toys, hair ties, or string can block the intestines. When something gets stuck, and you can’t throw it up, throwing up is often a main sign.

Ingesting Toxins or Plants

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Cats can be curious creatures and may ingest toxic substances or poisonous plants, leading to gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting or regurgitation.

Gastrointestinal Infections

Germs like viruses, bacteria, or parasites can cause infections in the stomach and intestine. These germs can upset the digestive system, which may cause throwing up or regurgitation.

Cats’ most common viral infections are caused by feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) and feline calicivirus (FCV).

Bacterial infections can occur when cats come into contact with certain germs or eat contaminated food.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease is a long-term condition where the digestive system becomes inflamed.

Cats with IBD can have problems like throwing up, upset stomach, losing weight, and not feeling hungry.

We don’t always know why IBD happens, but it is thought to be because the immune system reacts abnormally to substances in the gut.

Gastric Foreign Bodies

Cats are curious and sometimes eat things that aren’t food, like string, hair ties, or small toys. This can cause problems in their stomachs.

These things can block the stomach or intestines and make you vomit or bring back food.

In dire situations, an operation may be needed to remove the object that doesn’t belong.

Kidney Disease

Many older cats often have a common problem called chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can make them throw up and cause other symptoms. The kidneys are essential because they remove waste from the blood.

If the kidneys aren’t working properly, harmful substances can build up in the body and make the cat sick.

Liver Disease

Liver diseases, such as hepatic lipidosis or liver failure, can cause vomiting in cats. The liver is essential for breaking down food and getting rid of toxins in the body.

When there is a problem with the liver, it can cause stomach problems.


Pancreatitis is when the pancreas, a body part that makes things that help our body digest food and control sugar levels, gets swollen and irritated.

Pancreatitis in cats can make them throw up, feel pain in their belly, and lose their desire to eat.


Hyperthyroidism is when your body makes too many thyroid hormones. Cats with hyperthyroidism may feel hungrier than usual, lose weight, and throw up more often.


Diabetes is a health problem where the sugar levels in the blood are too high because the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin effectively.

Sometimes, cats with diabetes might throw up or show other stomach problems.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD is a word that includes different problems with the lower urinary tract, like cystitis and infections in the urinary tract. Some cats may have trouble peeing, throwing up, or feeling uncomfortable.

Stress and Anxiety

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Stress and anxiety can manifest in various ways in cats, including


Certain medications can irritate.

To summarize, cats can throw up or bring up food for different reasons. It could be because they ate too fast or have an allergy, tummy problems, or ate something harmful.

As people who look after cats, it’s important to watch their behavior and quickly take them to a vet if they throw up often, have intense vomiting, or have other worrying symptoms.

Your vet can check your cat carefully, do tests if needed, and give proper treatment to keep your cat healthy.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Is Vomiting Undigested Food?

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Remember, if your cat throws up a lot, it could mean something is wrong with their health. Taking the initiative and getting your cat professional medical help can help find and fix the main problem, ensuring your cat is healthy and happy.

Here are 10 methods to follow if your cat is vomiting undigested food:

Observe and Monitor: Pay close attention to your cat’s vomiting frequency and pattern. Note any other accompanying symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, or changes in appetite.

Limit Access to Food: Temporarily withhold food for a few hours to allow your cat’s stomach to settle. However, always provide access to fresh water to prevent dehydration.


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Feed Smaller and Frequent Meals: Instead of large meals, offer smaller portions multiple times a day. This can help reduce the chance of overeating and vomiting.

Use Puzzle Toys: Encourage slower eating by feeding your cat using food puzzle toys. These toys engage your cat’s hunting instincts and promote gradual food consumption.


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Consider Food Allergies: Consult your veterinarian about the possibility of food allergies. They may recommend a hypoallergenic or sensitive stomach diet to alleviate digestive issues.

Manage Hairballs: Regular grooming can help reduce hairballs, which may contribute to vomiting. Brush your cat’s fur regularly to minimize hair ingestion during self-grooming.

Monitor Changes in Diet: If you recently switched your cat’s food, consider reverting to its previous diet or gradually changing it over a week or two.

Minimize Stress: Cats can react to stress by vomiting. Create a calm and stress-free environment for your cat, and provide hiding spots or safe spaces.

Seek Veterinary Consultation: If vomiting persists, occurs frequently, or is accompanied by concerning symptoms, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian promptly.

Follow Veterinary Advice: After a thorough examination, follow your vet’s recommendations, which may include further tests, medications, dietary adjustments, or additional treatments.

How to Prevent Vomiting in Cats

why is my cat throwing up undigested food

Every cat is different; what might help one cat might not help another. If your cat keeps throwing up even after what you’ve done, talk to your vet for special advice and a complete health check-up.

Developing a close relationship with your cat and paying attention to their needs will make them healthy and happy.

Here are 10 friendly and professional methods to prevent vomiting in cats:

Gradual Diet Changes: When transitioning your cat to a new food, do it gradually over a week or two to give their digestive system time to adjust. Sudden dietary changes can lead to stomach upset and vomiting.

Regular Grooming: Help your cat manage hairballs by regularly grooming them. Brushing their fur will reduce the loose hair they ingest during self-grooming.

Puzzle Feeders: Engage your cat’s hunting instincts and slow down their eating by using food puzzle toys. These interactive feeders promote mental stimulation and prevent gorging.

Avoid Toxic Substances: Keep household plants and common toxins, like certain human foods and cleaning agents, out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion and vomiting.

Stress Reduction: Minimize environmental stressors and provide your cat with a safe, comfortable, relaxing space. Cats can vomit as a response to anxiety or changes in their surroundings.

Consistent Feeding Schedule: Stick to a consistent feeding routine to regulate your cat’s digestive system. Cats thrive on predictability and may vomit if meal times fluctuate.

Hydration: Ensure your cat always has access to fresh water. Dehydration can lead to vomiting, so encourage regular water intake.

Regular Vet Check-ups: Schedule routine veterinary visits to monitor your cat’s health. Early detection of potential issues can prevent vomiting and other health problems.

Parasite Prevention: Keep your cat on a regular parasite prevention program to reduce the risk of intestinal parasites that can cause vomiting.

Monitor Treat Intake: Be mindful of your cat’s number of treats. When people eat too many treats, it can make their stomach feel uncomfortable.

why is my cat throwing up undigested food


Why is my cat throwing up undigested food? As cat owners, we care a lot about our cats’ health and happiness. We need to know why they are throwing up their food so we can take good care of them.

The ten impressive topics discussed in this article have shed light on various factors contributing to vomiting in cats, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders and food allergies to hairballs, stress, and dietary changes.

With this knowledge, cat owners can now recognize potential triggers for vomiting episodes, take preventive measures, and seek timely veterinary attention when necessary.

By helping people understand cat health, we can give our cat friends the care and support they deserve.

This will make them happy and strengthen the relationship between cats and their human companions.

By understanding these topics, people who own cats can confidently handle the difficulties of cat vomiting and make sure their beloved pets have the best possible quality of life.

Read Also:

How Many Cans Of Wet Food For A Cat A Day? The Most Detailed Guide For You!

What Are The Cat Nutrition Needs And How To Meet Them?

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