Bile is a digestive fluid that is made in the liver and secreted into the small intestine. Bile can be seen in a cat’s vomit, giving it a yellow, orange, or even a brown or greenish tinge. You’re more likely to see bile when a cat vomits on an empty stomach, so you’ll often notice bile mixed in with a little bit of fluid, mucus, or foam.
Here are four possible home remedies for a cat that’s vomiting bile:
- Leave food out
- Feed multiple times throughout the day
- Use an automatic cat feeder
- Switch cat foods
What is Bilious Vomiting Syndrome?
Cats who vomit on an empty stomach but are otherwise healthy (no diarrhea, weight loss, etc.) are often diagnosed with bilious vomiting syndrome. Veterinarians don’t know the exact cause of the condition, but a common theory is that gastric acid, bile, or other digestive fluids irritate the lining of the empty stomach leading to vomiting.
If your cat is vomiting bile but seems to feel just fine, bilious vomiting is a likely culprit. Thankfully, home treatment is relatively straightforward.
Treatment for Bilious Vomiting Syndrome
Cats who have bilious vomiting syndrome need to eat more frequently. Since the trigger for vomiting is an empty stomach, you want to minimize the amount of time your cat’s stomach is empty.
1. Leave Food Out
One option is to simply leave food out all the time. However, this can easily lead to unhealthy weight gain.
2. Feed Multiple Times Throughout the Day
Feeding multiple small meals throughout the day, particularly right before bedtime, is ideal but the schedule can be hard to maintain if you’re busy or away from home for long periods of time.
3. Automatic Cat Feeder
An automatic pet feeder that allows you to preschedule frequent small meals can be a sanity saver. You can even set them to offer a meal or two in the middle of the night.
4. Switch Cat Foods
When feeding multiple small meals does stop your cat from vomiting bile but they are gaining weight, either cut back on your cat’s meal size or switch to a different cat food. Wet cat foods tend to be the best choice because they are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and contain a lot of water, all of which can help with weight maintenance and support overall health. Good options for weight management include Purina Pro Plan Weight Control Pate Wet Cat Food and Blue Buffalo True Solutions Fit & Healthy Natural Weight Control Adult Wet Cat Food. If you have to feed dry cat food, look for a high-protein option like ORIJEN Fit and Trim Recipe.
What If Home Remedies for a Cat Vomiting Bile Don’t Work?
If you try feeding your cat multiple small meals throughout the day and night but they continue to vomit bile, it’s time to see your veterinarian. First, they will want to confirm that your cat does indeed have bilious vomiting syndrome. They will ask you a lot of questions about your cat’s health, lifestyle, and environment; perform a physical examination, and then possibly run some diagnostic tests like a fecal exam, a panel of blood work, and a urinalysis. If they’re very concerned that something else might be going on they might also recommend x-rays, ultrasound exams, endoscopy, surgery, and tissue biopsies. Almost any cause of vomiting can make a cat vomit bile, so it’s important to get to the bottom of things.
But what happens when the doctor has diagnosed a cat with bilious vomiting syndrome and feeding more frequent meals hasn’t helped? In these cases, your veterinarian can prescribe medications that should reduce or eliminate the vomiting. Options include:
- Famotidine, omeprazole, or other medications to reduce stomach acid production
- Metoclopramide to increase the frequency of contractions within the small intestines
- Maropitant, which is a broad-spectrum anti-vomiting drug
Talk to your veterinarian if your cat is vomiting bile and your home remedies haven’t worked. They can help you figure out what is going on and recommend appropriate options for treatment.
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:
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Gastrointestinal disorders in cats: Common causes and treatments. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gi-disorders-in-cats/symptoms-causes/syc-20354649
- WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA. (2017). Vomiting in Cats. Retrieved from https://pets.webmd.com/vomiting-cats#1
- VCA Hospitals. (n.d.). Vomiting in Cats. Retrieved from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/vomiting-in-cats
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:
- Home remedies that will settle your cat’s stomach
- Home remedies for cat vomiting
- What to do when your cat is throwing up food?
- What to do if there’s blood in your cat’s stool
- What to do if your cat is vomiting blood
- What to do if your cat is throwing up white foam
- Over the counter medicine for cat diarrhea
- Cat foaming at the mouth: reasons & what to do
- Home remedies for cat diarrhea