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Being a cat parent, you are likely familiar with your kitty throwing up. While occasional vomiting is normal for cats and is not a cause for concern, frequent and excessive vomiting may indicate a serious problem with a cat’s health.
If your cat is vomiting more often than normal, something in his diet may be causing digestive complications. Switching to the food that is right for him can get rid of the vomiting and give your pet the comfort you are anxious for.
This article will tell you when to be concerned about your cat’s vomiting, possible causes to consider, and our top picks for the best cat food for vomiting.
Quick Links: The Best Cat Food to Prevent Vomiting
- Best Overall: NomNomNow Chicken Chow Meow
- Runner Up: Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Cat Food
- Best For Sensitive Stomach: Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin Cat Food
- Best Wet Food To Prevent Vomiting: Hound & Gatos Grain Free Chicken Canned Food
- Best For Hairball Control: Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food
- Best for Picky Eaters: Royal Canin Digest Sensitive Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food
- Budget Pick: Purina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food
- Best For Older Cats: Halo Grain-Free Senior Recipe Wet Food
When Should I be Concerned?
Occasional vomiting in cats is normal and does not indicate poor health. Some cats vomit once every week, some a couple of times per month, and some may only vomit once or twice a year.
The primary reason behind this occasional vomiting is that your cat is a very clean animal. Fastidious about grooming, cats get undigested hair accumulated in their stomach. These hairballs are expelled occasionally, sometimes accompanied with vomiting.
According to Dr. Richard Goldstein, who is an associate professor at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, you should absolutely not tolerate vomiting “if it occurs more than once a week.”
What Causes Vomiting in Cats?
If your cat is throwing up, it may be due to one of the following reasons:
Vomiting may occur due to intolerance or allergy towards a certain element in the cat’s diet. Grain, chicken, beef, and fish are common ingredients that can disagree with cats’ digestive systems. While allergies are more severe and show a variety of symptoms, intolerances usually reveal themselves in the form of gastro-intestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea.
Changing your cat’s diet suddenly can also upset his stomach and make him throw up. If you want to switch from one formula to another, introduce the new formula gradually; mix both foods and increase the ratio of the new formula day-by-day.
Poor-quality ingredients in your cat’s diet can also cause digestive issues like vomiting. Make sure the ingredients are of good quality and are close to a cat’s natural diet. This means no low-quality fillers, artificial additives, and preservatives. Try to know as much as you can about where the ingredients are sourced from.
A diet that is not balanced may deprive your cat of important nutrients or give him too much of a certain nutrient. This can also lead to digestive problems and cause vomiting.
Finally, keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores i.e. animal proteins are the primary part of their diet and cats absorb nutrients from animal proteins better compared to plant proteins. To maintain your cat’s digestive and overall health, feed him a diet that has a high percentage of animal proteins.
As mentioned above, cats swallow some fur when they groom themselves. The undigested fur forms hairballs in their stomach, which they expel occasionally. Vomiting can accompany the disgorging of hairballs.
The expelling of hairballs is necessary for a cat – if the accumulated matter passes into the intestinal tract, it may cause a blockage that can be very serious. However, if your cat is expelling hairballs too often, it is uncomfortable for him and for you to watch. Grooming your cat regularly and changing his diet to minimize hair-shedding can help with the problem.
Pets.WebMD has a guide on managing hairballs here.
Cats are curious animals – some time or the other your own inquisitive feline is likely to end up snacking on something that is not food. Ingesting non-food items such as a plant, pieces of yarn, and human food like chocolate and onions can cause cats to throw up.
If your cat has an upset stomach, it may be because his food has gone bad. Check your cat’s food carefully when you feed him to avoid any chances of food poisoning.
Parasites like tapeworms can infect your cat’s digestive system and cause all sorts of discomfort to your pet, including vomiting. Proper treatment and de-worming are necessary.
The vomiting may be owing to a more serious medical condition. Causes may include inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. In such a case, a diagnosis by your vet will lead to a specific course of treatment.
Digestive problems can also result in issues like smelly poop. For recipes that solve this problem, look at our picks for the Best Cat Food for Smelly Poop here.
Vomiting vs. Regurgitation
If your kitty is throwing up food, there is a possibility that it is not vomiting at all but regurgitating.
Vomiting is the expelling of contents of the stomach and upper intestine. It is an active action; it usually involves retching and effort from the cat such as the contraction of abdominal muscles. Food expelled as a result of vomiting is usually partially digested, has an acidic pH, and may be accompanied by a yellow fluid – bile.
Regurgitation is the expelling of contents of the esophagus. It is a passive action, which means that it is usually quiet and also effortless for the cat. Food ejected as a result of regurgitation is not digested enough and has a more neutral pH than that of vomited matter. The food may be thrown up in the shape of a tube.
A very common cause of regurgitation in cats is that they gobble up their food faster than their stomachs can take – so the excess stacks up in the esophagus.
This problem is sometimes magnified by food-bowl competition. To make sure meal times are stress-free, you can try separating the places of feeding for your different feline companions, in case you have more than one. Of course, it may be the fact that a particular kitty is just gluttonous, in which case you may try providing smaller amounts of food at a time.
Like vomiting, regurgitation is not a cause for concern if it is infrequent (once or twice a month) However, if very frequent, it may be linked to a more serious problem such as esophageal conditions, neurological problems, or hormonal issues.
Our Top 8 Best Rated Cat Foods to Prevent Vomiting
Here are our top picks in 2019 for the best cat foods that can provide relief to your pet’s sensitive stomach. Whatever your budget is, you will find a quality product in this list that fits.
The best way to resolve issues with vomiting is to feed your cat a high-quality diet made from digestible, animal-based ingredients.
NomNomNow is a fresh food delivery service that offers customized meals catered to your cat’s unique nutritional needs and made with the freshest ingredients available.
Your cat’s food will be prepared and delivered fresh on a monthly basis, sent in perfectly portioned packages that you can refrigerate or freeze.
Simply fill out your pet’s profile online to get started and choose from their recipe collection.
The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Recipe Dehydrated Cat Food has 70% cage-free turkey. The formula comes in dehydrated form, and you can prepare a meal for your cat by adding water. This means that your cat does not need to ingest extra ingredients found in canned food such as gelling agents that are not a part of its natural diet.
Other things that make this food closer to a natural feline diet and easy to digest are that it consists of non-GMO ingredients, is grain-free, is prepared with minimal processing, and contains no by-products or artificial additives.
With a very limited number of ingredients that are all-natural, this cat food is a great option for sensitive stomachs.
The Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin Dry Cat Food is specially formulated for cats with a sensitive stomach or skin. The formula is gentle on cats’ digestive systems and has great reviews from pet parents whose cats were previously suffering from diarrhea and vomiting.
With real chicken as the first ingredient, the food has high-quality ingredients with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Since the formula is also aimed at improving skin and coat health, it helps manage shedding – less hairballs means less vomiting.
The thing that makes Hound & Gatos Grain-Free Canned Cat Food stand out from the rest is that it contains animal protein as the only protein source – there are no plant proteins added to the formula. There are also no grains, fillers, artificial additives, or meat by-products. This makes this food very similar to what a cat would eat naturally – excellent for your pet’s digestive health.
The formula comes in five varieties: chicken; lamb; lamb, chicken, and salmon; salmon and trout; and beef. Each variety has real animal protein as the first ingredient.
For more grain-free options, check out this article about The 5 Best Grain-Free Cat Foods.
The Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food is another recipe that is developed specially for cats prone to digestive issues. It features real chicken as the first ingredient and is free of corn, wheat, and soy.
The food has excellent reviews from cat parents whose pets were relieved of vomiting issues. Not only does it fulfil the expectations of being gentle on cats’ digestive systems, but also lives up to its claim of maintaining a healthy coat. It reduces shedding, which not only means less cleaning for you, but also less hairball vomiting for your kitty.
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Digest Sensitive Thin Slice in Gravy Canned Cat Food is higher-priced than the other products in our list. However, this special recipe is proven to help cats with digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.
The recipe contains a high percentage of animal proteins, which are easier for cats to digest compared to plant proteins. With chicken, pork, and salmon as the primary ingredients and almost no plant-based ingredients, this recipe is formulated with a cat’s natural diet in mind. Overall it’s a great option for top of the line wet cat food.
The more affordable option on our list, Purina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food is formulated for gentle digestion. This recipe contains real turkey as the first ingredient.
The formula also helps to maintain a healthy skin and coat, which means less hairballs causing your kitty to throw up.
Since it is a less ‘high-end’ cat food option at a reasonable price, this formula does contain certain ingredients that can be counted as fillers. While chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal are not the most premium protein sources, the formula still has real turkey as the primary source of protein, and is a good option compared to most other products in its range.
As your senior cat gets older, it may not be able to eat dry food as easily. This Halo Grain-Free Senior Recipe Wet Food is a great choice because it features high-quality ingredients in a holistic recipe designed specifically for older cats. It contains real chicken with no rendered meat meals or by-products and it is rich in omega fatty acids. Plus, it contains a lower concentration of calories than traditional recipes to help your cat maintain a healthy body weight.
Also Read: The 5 Best Cat Foods for Senior Cats
Occasional vomiting in cats is normal, but if your cat is vomiting more often than usual, it may indicate that you need to change his diet. Proper dietary choices can relieve your cat of the problem. A trip to the vet and professional medical advice is also necessary if the vomiting is severe and does not stop.
A diet that is easy to digest, has natural, high-quality ingredients, and has lesser ingredients that cats may be intolerant to is a good option for a sensitive stomach. For a diet that is easier on your cat’s stomach, try one of the options from our list above.
*This article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Your veterinarian can provide personalized suggestions relevant to your cat’s unique situation.