cat keeps throwing up after eating
Cat Health and Wellness

Why is My Cat Vomiting Undigested Food Hours After Eating?

If a cat has a digestive issue, vomiting after eating will be far more likely. While this is concerning, you can help to settle your cat’s stomach.

The most likely explanation is that cats vomit after eating due to eating too much or too quickly. Cats should also rest after consuming a meal. Consider increasing your cat’s fiber intake to clear small intestinal blockages. Also, check for allergies to food or plastic bowls.

Understand the difference between vomiting and regurgitation. Vomiting stems from the stomach, and regurgitation from the throat. Vomiting in cats is considerably easier to resolve.

Cat Regurgitation vs. Cat Vomiting

Vomiting and regurgitation are terms that are used interchangeably. There are core differences between them, though.

Regurgitation

Cat regurgitation is a sudden and unexpected event. Your cat will open its mouth and undigested food will emerge. Your cat will not experience any symptoms. This means you will not receive any warning.

Regurgitation happens in the throat. Your cat is expelling food because it cannot swallow. The food has not made it to the stomach. Regurgitated food often takes the shape of a long tube.

Vomiting

Vomiting is when the contents of its stomach are expelled. Your cat’s digestive tract is rejecting the food that was consumed. Your cat’s stomach will contract, creating discomfort. This is why cats often pace and heave before vomiting.

Vomiting is an everyday occurrence among cats. Regurgitation is not. If your cat is regurgitating food, seek medical assistance from a vet. Vomiting, while unpleasant, is significantly less concerning.

cat eats too fast and vomits

What Causes Cats to Bring Up Food?

If your cat is regurgitating food, an obstructed esophagus will be to blame. Potential explanations for this include:

  • Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
  • Megaesophagus (enlargement of the esophagus)
  • Addison’s disease
  • Consumption of toxins
  • Neuromuscular disorder
  • Hypothyroidism

Cats vomit for a wide array of reasons. Oftentimes, these are commonplace and innocuous. If your cat continually vomits after eating, learn why this is happening. There is a problem with your cat’s diet or eating habits.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up After Eating?

There are many reasons why a cat may vomit after eating. These include:

  • Eating to excess
  • Eating too quickly
  • Change in diet
  • Moving after eating
  • Cold food
  • Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal issues

You need to undertake a process of elimination. Learn why your cat vomits after eating and take action. Do not allow the situation to continue unchecked.

Eating Too Much

Cats eating to excess is a common explanation for vomiting. Cats can often eat beyond the point of fullness. This is known as polyphagia. Potential causes of feline polyphagia include:

  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Side-effects of medication
  • Pregnancy
  • Pancreatic issues

It’s also possible that your cat is just greedy. Many cats take pleasure from food. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits.

Moderate your cat’s food intake. The average adult cat will require 240 calories per day. This can be reduced in senior cats. A less active cat will burn fewer calories.

If your cat eats to excess, you must look to reduce its calorie intake. In addition to vomiting, your cat risks diabetes. As per a study in The Veterinary Journal, Burmese cats are particularly prone to this concern.

Eating Too Fast

Some cats eat faster than their bodies can cope with. This will lead to the cat overeating.

This is especially dangerous with dry food. Kibble expands in a cat’s stomach. Your cat will eat rapidly and expel the food when it places pressure on the digestive tract.

The main reason for a cat to eat quickly is food anxiety. The cat is concerned that if it doesn’t eat fast, it won’t get to eat. This may arise if the cat has an inconsistent food routine. Sharing food with other pets can also provoke anxiety.

If you have multiple cats, give each their own bowl and feed in separate areas. Maintain a strict schedule. Ensure your cat understands that it will always be fed at particular times.

If this does not help, break your cat’s feeding routine up. Feed your cat half as much, twice as often. Invest in a slow feeding bowl. These bowls contain ridges. Your cat will be unable to eat quickly, even if it wants to.

Eating Unfamiliar Food

If you have changed your cat’s diet, vomiting is likely to follow. Cats have very sensitive stomachs. Any sudden change will upset a cat’s digestion.

Switching between wet and dry food has the biggest impact. Even changing a brand of wet food can cause problems. It needs to be done gradually.

Start by mixing the new food with the familiar. This ratio should be 90% old, 10% new to begin. Over the course of two weeks, steadily increase the amount of new food.

Within two weeks, your cat can enjoy the new food.

Moving After Eating

Cats need to rest after eating. Too much movement after a meal will upset the cat’s stomach.

The best way to manage this is a strict schedule. Play with your cat before feeding time. This will leave your cat exhausted and contented. Once your cat has eaten, it will likely groom itself and sleep.

If your cat looks to play or explore after eating, vomiting is likely. The cat will run and jump. This will upset the stomach. Any food yet to be digested will be expelled as vomit.

Food is Too Cold

Never feed a cat food straight from the refrigerator. This is unappealing and difficult for your cat to digest.

A cat may reject the opportunity to eat cold food. When a cat eats, it seeks to replicate the experience of hunting. Live prey has a body temperature to match that of a feline. This will not apply to chilled food.

Cat stomachs cannot digest cold food, which means the meal will be expelled. This is easily remedied.

Allow food to warm up to room temperature before serving. You could microwave the food for a few seconds, but don’t allow it to overheat.

Allergic to Food Ingredients

Cats can develop food allergies at any stage of life. Food that was previously fine can make a cat unwell, seemingly without warning. Cat stomachs evolve over time.

Vomiting suggests that an ingredient in the meal is to blame. As the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine explains, you’ll need a process of elimination. Check the ingredients of the food and source alternatives with different contents.

It is also possible that your cat has developed an allergy to its bowl. Plastic allergies are common in cats. Serve your pet’s meal in cardboard or on a china plate. If this ceases the vomiting, the vessel was the problem.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Your cat may have developed a gastrointestinal issue. This can happen at any time in your pet’s life. Common examples include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intestinal parasites (i.e. tapeworm or roundworm)
  • Intestinal blockages due to hairballs or swallowed foreign objects
  • Cancerous tumors in the stomach

Increase the fiber in your cat’s diet. This will help your cat flush any minor blockages. You could also rub Vaseline on your cat’s paws. Your cat will lick this. Vaseline is cat-safe and lubricates the digestive tract.

A vet can run tests on your cat. This will start with blood and urine samples. Scans will reveal any potential medical concerns or major intestinal blockages. If no results are found, a vet may need to take a biopsy.

Dry Food vs. Wet Food

Dry food is likelier to result in vomiting than wet food. This is especially likely if your cat has a sensitive stomach. Here’s why:

  • It takes longer to break down in the stomach
  • It can be high in grain
  • It cannot circumvent minor stomach blockages
  • It expands in the stomach

As cats age, wet food makes a better core food than dry food. Small amounts of kibble are fine.

As dry food takes a long time to break down, it sits heavy in a cat’s stomach. This means the cat may vomit if it moves or drinks water.

Wet food can also slip past blockages, such as hairballs. Dry food cannot circumvent these obstacles.

As dry food expands in the stomach, it can double in size. A cat that eats quickly will struggle with this. The cat will not realize that it has eaten its fill. The stomach will expel any excess food.

when to worry about vomiting in cats

What to Do After a Cat Vomits

Never punish a cat for vomiting. If your cat has fears about vomiting, it will swallow vomit in the future. This could choke a cat. It also prevents the cat from purging toxins.

Your cat will likely consider itself fine after vomiting. If you act concerned, your cat will become worried about vomiting.

After a vomiting episode, a cat should fast for 12 hours. This will settle its stomach. Once the fast is complete, offer your cat bland food. Chicken and rice is an ideal meal. Within 24 hours, return your cat’s diet to normal. Encourage it to drink water in between.

My Cat Will Not Eat After Vomiting

Most cats will behave normally after vomiting. Exceptions occur if the vomiting was painful or frightening. Your cat may associate food with these negative experiences. Ways to encourage a cat to eat include:

  • Serving food with a strong scent (i.e. seafood)
  • Offer meat-based baby food
  • Pour meaty broth or tuna juice over food
  • Rub pancake syrup on your cat’s gums

Encouraging a cat to eat can be a slow process. Your cat needs to build trust in food again. Your cat needs to eat within a 24-hour period.

Should I See a Vet About My Cat’s Vomiting?

See a vet if your cat continues to vomit into a second day. This condition is known as acute vomiting. Brown vomit in cats is also concerning.

Assist your vet by observing other strange behaviors in your cat. Keep a diary of anything you notice. This will help a vet make a diagnosis. Concerning behaviors could include:

  • Lethargy and depression
  • Loss of appetite and associated weight loss
  • Refusal to drink water
  • Traces of blood in the vomit
  • Struggling to eliminate or urinate
  • Swelling around the abdomen
  • Foul breath
  • Loss of interest in grooming

Your vet will run a number of tests to rule out emergency explanations. In most cases, acute vomiting will be treated with medication. If your cat is dehydrated, intravenous fluids will be administered.

The best way to treat vomiting in cats at home is fasting. If your cat has not eaten, it will have nothing to vomit. Allow a cat to fast for up to 12 hours. After this, you can reintroduce food. A bland meal is best.

Feed your cat appropriate portion sizes. Do not change food where possible. Always ensure the food is served at room temperature. Offer plenty of drinking water in a different location.