Home Remedies for a Cat Throwing Up Food

Home remedies for a cat throwing up food

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Cats throw up food for many different reasons. Some are serious and require veterinary attention, but others, like eating too much too quickly, can usually be handled with home remedies. If your cat has just vomited once or twice but seems to feel fine otherwise, it’s safe to try some home treatment.

But do not try treating your cat at home if any of the following applies. Call your veterinarian for advice instead.

  • The cat is very young, very old, or has underlying health problems
  • The cat is vomiting frequently
  • Vomiting has been present for more than a day or two
  • The vomit contains blood
  • The cat also has diarrhea
  • The cat is weak, in pain, or seems mentally out of it
  • The cat can’t hold down water

Easy-to-Treat Reasons for a Cat Throwing Up Food

Some relatively simple problems can make cats throw up food. Here are some of the most common and home remedies that may help.

Eating Too Quickly

Cats who throw up food may be eating too fast. This can happen when a cat is very hungry because they are going too long between meals. Cats are designed to eat multiple small meals throughout the day, but this schedule can be hard to maintain if you’re busy, out of the house, or while you are sleeping. An automatic pet feeder will let your cat eat multiple small meals overnight or when you’re not home. Puzzle feeders like the Lickimat or a slow feeder bowl can also help cats eat more slowly.

A Mild Upset Stomach

Cats can develop a mild upset stomach for simple reasons like eating something new or unusual. Sometimes all that is needed is to give the cat’s digestive tract a break by not offering food for a short period of time.

Healthy adult cats can safely skip a meal or two, which will give their stomach a chance to empty and rest, but be sure to leave out fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your cat’s vomiting continues or if your cat is not willing to eat after 24 hours or so. Cats who don’t take in sufficient calories, even for relatively short periods, can develop a serious disease called hepatic lipidosis.


Picture of a cat with a hairball

Hairballs are a common reason for cats to throw up and their vomit may contain food. Laxatone is a safe and effective, veterinarian-recommended flavored hairball control gel. Never give your cat mineral oil, butter, lard, grease, or vegetable oils as a home remedy for hairballs. At best, they won’t work. At worst, they can make your cat sick. Diets like Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Canned Cat Food and brushing your cat more frequently can help prevent hairballs.

Talk to your veterinarian if your cat vomits hairballs more than a couple of times a month. Frequent hairballs can be caused by diseases affecting the digestive tract or skin.

An Adverse Food Reaction

Cats can react poorly to certain ingredients in food. What’s safe for one cat may cause another to vomit. Switching to a different diet may help when a cat is throwing up food. Wet cat foods tend to be a better option than dry because they are usually higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, which is a better match for a cat’s nutritional needs. Wet cat foods also contain more water and fewer (or no) artificial preservatives in comparison to dry. The following options are all highly rated:

If you have to feed dry cat food, look for a high-quality, high-protein option like ORIJEN® Dry Original Cat Food Premium.

Motion Sickness

Cats can vomit due to motion sickness! If your cat only throws up food while in the car, try not feeding them for a few hours before the trip. If that doesn’t work, talk to your veterinarian. They can prescribe medications that will help ease nausea associated with motion sickness in cats.

What to Do When Home Remedies Don’t Work

Of course, these aren’t the only reasons why a cat might throw up food. If your cat has severe or chronic vomiting, your veterinarian will need to determine its underlying cause. They will start by taking a thorough health history and performing a physical examination, which is often followed up with some diagnostic tests. This can include some combination of fecal examinations, blood work, urinalysis, x-rays, ultrasound studies, specialized laboratory tests, and even exploratory surgery or endoscopy and tissue biopsies

Your veterinarian can recommend appropriate treatment once they have identified the likely reason why your cat is throwing up food.

Additional Resources On Cat Vomiting

If you’re looking for more information about your cat vomiting, this is a good video overview from Dr. Sarah Wooten on cat vomiting:

You can also check out these sources:

And finally we’ve created a series of posts here on Pet News Daily related to gastro intestinal issues for cats and cat health in general, including:

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Dr. Jennifer Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles and books including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.