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What to Feed a Cat That’s Vomiting: Foods to Help Care for Your Kitty

Written by: Adam Mann

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat vomiting

What to Feed a Cat That’s Vomiting: Foods to Help Care for Your Kitty

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Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When your cat is sick, the last thing you want is to feed them something that will make it worse. But how do you treat a cat that’s still vomiting, and what should you do to calm their stomach? It can be a lot to consider because, again, you don’t want to make your beloved feline feel worse, but with this guide, you’ll have everything you need to get your feline friend on the road to recovery. Keep reading while we discuss what it means when a cat is throwing up and the best food for cats that vomit.

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Why Is Your Cat Vomiting?

There are several things that could be making your cat vomit. Vomiting, specifically, is the active motion that results in ejecting stomach contents from the mouth and is not to be confused with regurgitation and coughing. But what is causing this behavior?

Here are some potential reasons:
  • Parasites
  • Diet hypersensitivity
  • Constipation
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulceration
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease

What Does Cat Vomit Look Like?

There are different types of vomit, and they could all indicate something different.

Cats vomiting yellow usually means that bile is present and means they have an empty stomach. This often happens if you’re only feeding the cat in the morning and they go without food for a while. Or it can also happen in anorexic cats.

Blood in the vomit could indicate irritation of the esophagus or stomach lining because of increased acid. It could also mean there is a clotting abnormality, which is common in certain diseases and from some toxins, such as rat poison.

Food in the vomit could mean your cat ate too much too fast, or the food didn’t agree with them, amongst many other possibilities. This often comes out in a tube-like shape. It could also be because they became nauseous shortly after eating, that they have a food allergy, or that there is a foreign body obstructing their food from moving further into the digestive tract.

Hairballs happen occasionally, especially in cats with longer hair who groom themselves more often. This usually isn’t something to be concerned about if fairly infrequent, but you should discuss the matter with your vet.

cat vomiting outdoor
cat vomiting outdoor (Image Credit: Wutsje, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Top 3 Tips to Keep Your Cat From Vomiting

If your cat is always vomiting, first, see a vet. If your cat only occasionally vomits and has a clear bill of healthy, there are a few things you can try to help settle their stomach. While these suggestions might not be completely foolproof, it’s a great starting point.

1. Stop Feeding Them for a Few Hours

It’s wise to give your cat’s stomach a chance to settle. If your cat vomits, remove their access to food and wait a couple of hours to let the stomach settle. Then, offer them very small amounts of food to see if they are not only interested but if they can keep a few bites down.


2. Give Them Smaller Meals

Sometimes your cat simply can’t help themselves and they eat too much of what’s in front of them. This can also be the case even if it’s the right amount of food for them to eat in a day.

Try to give your cat at least two evenly portioned meals each day to help slow things down, but if even that is too much, try breaking it down further by giving them three or four smaller meals throughout the day.

tortoiseshell cat eating on the dining table
Image Credit: Alena A, Shutterstock

3. Slow Down Their Eating

Even if you give your cat extremely small meals, if they’re practically inhaling the food, it still might not settle well for them. There are several products you can use to help slow down how quickly your cat eats, including specialized bowls that make your cat have to work a little more to get to the food.

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The 6 Best Foods for Cats That Throw Up

If your cat is throwing up and you already tried slowing down their eating and drinking and giving them smaller meals, you might need to switch their diet. Speak with your vet about these potential options:

1. Chicken

Offering plain, cooked chicken is one of the best food options for cats that are sick. You must ensure that the chicken is cooked throughout and does not include any salt or extra seasonings. This bland option is going to be gentle on the stomach, and it’s also enticing enough to get your cat interested in eating again. Chicken is only a short-term option.

cutting boiled chicken
Image CreditL Tagwaran, Shutterstock

2. Purina ONE +Plus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

A kitty that is throwing up regularly might have a particularly sensitive stomach. Purina ONE +Plus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Natural Dry Adult Cat Food is a good choice if you plan on giving them food that is formulated for these types of stomach issues. It includes a limited-ingredient and easily digestible formula, along with prebiotic fiber to keep everything running smoothly. It’s also a fair price and a veterinarian-recommended recipe for cats with sensitive stomachs.


3. White Fish

Similar to chicken, white fish is something that is enticing enough to get cats interested in eating again, yet it is gentle enough that it probably won’t upset your cat’s stomach. To reiterate, you must ensure that the fish is cooked through and does not contain any bones or seasonings. Plain is best, especially for a kitty that’s feeling a bit under the weather. As it’s not a balanced diet, it is not a long term option.


4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain-Free Salmon & Yellow Pea Recipe Dry Cat Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain-Free Salmon & Yellow Pea Recipe Dry Cat Food

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach is another choice you can try for your cat, but it is a bit more expensive. It’s a grain-free recipe which isn’t best for every cat, but if your cat has a grain allergy, it’s a wise choice.


5. Lean Ground Protein (Chicken, Turkey, Beef)

As obligate carnivores, you should really be focusing on offering your cat lean protein sources, especially when their stomach is upset. As with chicken and fish, offering low-fat, plain, cooked ground meat could be just the thing to get your cat eating again without causing further upset. This is not a balanced diet and therefore not a long term option.


6. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

If you’ve discovered that hairballs are part of the problem, then the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Chicken Recipe that is formulated for hairball control could help the issue. The first ingredient is chicken, though, so if your cat is sensitive to this protein, you might need to look for something else.

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When to Take Your Cat to the Vet

If your cat has only vomited once, they might not need to be rushed to the vet, though a phone call to confirm is never a bad idea. Exceptions might be if your cat is otherwise unwell, or has eaten something they shouldn’t (e.g. a toxin, or a possible foreign body), or the vomit looks unusual (e.g. blood, or plastic pieces).

If your cat doesn’t stop vomiting, you need to seek emergency medical care for them. Additionally, if you cut off their food and they’re still vomiting several hours later, they need a trip to the vet.

You also need to take your cat to the vet if they start to display any of the following signs, or you have concerns:

  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Pain/distress
  • Blood in stool
  • Fever

Vomiting can mean more than an upset stomach, so if you’re ever in doubt, we highly recommend taking them to the vet right away. It’s better to take an unnecessary trip to the vet and not need it than to need to take them to the vet and not do it. Their health should be your top priority!

Female veterinarian holds sick cat close-up
Image Credit: megaflopp, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know a little more about how to treat your cat when they’re sick and what to offer when they do vomit, this should help you get your cat back on the road to recovery. Always seek veterinary advice when choosing options to help with any medical condition in your cat, including vomiting. A vet can give you the best advice for your cat and ensure there’s no underlying medical problem or food allergy you need to be aware of.


Featured Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock

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