I went out of town this weekend, and my boyfriend took care of my cats. He even stayed the night at my place on Saturday so Bubba Lee Kinsey could spend the evening purring and headbutting his beard.

I assumed everything was cool — my cats, especially Bubba Lee Kinsey, love my boyfriend, in no small part because he will actually play rough with them while I shy away from their claws and fangs.

But the next morning I got a text: “There’s a bunch of kibble in your bed. I slept on it. It’s just kind of funny.”

Bubba Lee Kinsey has always tended to fill his mouth with food, carry it to another room and drop it on the floor before eating it, so I assumed he was the culprit. It would not, after all, be the first time I’ve pulled back the blankets on my bed to discover cat food and toys beneath. I’ve always found this particular idiosyncrasy to be funny and more than a little charming. Needless to say, it takes a lot (namely mold, raw meat, or elevators) to gross me out or scare me.

But when I got home Sunday afternoon and decided to take a nap, I discovered the truth: My cats had thrown up in my bed again. Yes, that’s right — AGAIN. They did it the first time the day after I bought $50 sheets with an actual thread count. There was a wad of cat food crusted to the cute seafoam-green blanket atop my comforter.

Because I was tired, I felt angry. I threw the blanket in the laundry, grabbed another, and commenced napping. But when I woke several hours later, I bean to worry. The party most likely responsible for the vom-cakes in my bed was Phoenix, my calico girl. I’ve caught her vomiting more than usual recently — and then running back to her food dish for another bite or ten, because she is a master at the rally puke.

In addition to my bed, I’ve found vomit in the strangest places: my shoes, the bathtub, the windowsill, the coffee table. Sometimes Phoenix is seemingly inspired, and she pukes up postmodern patterns — for example, a small spot, followed by a slightly larger spot, followed by the payoff: a large, reckless pile of gooey kibble. Phoenix is basically an artist, and her medium is vomit.

But I’m beginning to wonder if her prolific puking is, in fact, indicative of a problem. I’ve always thought that it is normal for cats to throw up — but there has to be a time when vomiting becomes excessive, right? When should I worry?

Apparently the most common causes of vomiting are swallowing hair or undigestible materials that are irritating to the stomach, such as grass. I recently moved my plants inside for the winter, and I have caught Phoenix nibbling the leaves. Overeating can also be to blame. Another slightly grosser cause: intestinal parasites.

One possible cause that I hadn’t considered is a food allergy. I try to feed my cats only grain-free organic food, but it is possible that Phoenix is having a hard time adjusting to this diet and could, in fact, be allergic to it. She also overeats — and she eats extremely quickly. She’ll often push Bubba Lee Kinsey out of the way and devour his food once she’s finished her own.

I should probably start transitioning my cats to a different brand of food and feeding them in separate rooms to stifle Phoenix’s gluttony. I also know I should work on cutting out free-feeding altogether, even on the days when I wake up late and feel lazy (I admit that I’m guilty of this).

Additionally, the time I feed my cats matters. Their stomachs adjust to a particular schedule, which is why they wake us up at 5 a.m. demanding to be fed. They aren’t trying to drive us crazy; they’re just responding to biological urges. My cats are used to being fed each morning around seven, so when they are fed later than that, their stomachs can become upset due to an influx of digestive acids, which have already begun churning in anticipation of mealtime. I need to be more disciplined regarding when and how much I’m feeding my cats.

However, if nothing diet-related works, I’m going to take Phoenix to the vet. Vomiting can also be a sign of many serious underlying conditions, such as pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney disease, panleukopenia, or inflammatory bowel disease.

But because Phoenix typically vomits near mealtime, I’m hopeful that it’s nothing serious. Have you ever experienced excessive vomiting in your cats? How did you handle it? Did a change in diet or feeding habits clear it up, or did you need to see a vet? Share in the comments!

About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.

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