top of page

Why do cats throw up?-December 2016

December 2016. Happy December everyone! Our blog this month is cat focused and discusses reasons why cats throw up. My good friend Rae is the manager of the Holistic Houndry in Zelienople. She volunteered to write this month’s blog because cat vomit is a big deal. She wanted to share this information because we have had a lot of people coming into the Holistic Houndry seeking help with this issue in the last few months. Enjoy…

This article is about something all cat owners have experienced at least once. You wake up to find your kitty has left you a pile of vomit to start your day. I wanted to find out the reasons this occurs and share it with other cat caretakers.

Growing up with cats, I noticed they seemed to vomit a lot. When I adopted my first tortoise shell kitten I asked my vet why she seemed to throw up often. I was told “cats just do that.” This never felt normal to me. Sadly, I did not learn about cat nutrition until many years after losing Miss Kitty to kidney disease. Now that I am more educated on species appropriate diets, my cats are happy and rarely vomit. I would like to share what I’ve learned so your cats may experience long, healthy lives with less trips to the vet. And you may experience fewer unpleasant “gifts” left for you on your rugs and furniture!

Cat History:

Egyptians first found and employed cats for rodent control in grain stores. This led to the myth that cats eat grain. Cats eat mice and mice eat grain. Cats quickly became worshipped in Egypt.

However, during the Middle Ages in Europe, cats were believed to be associated with witchcraft. They were also believed to cause the Plague. So, by order of a king, cats were exterminated. Ironically, the mass killing of cats caused a spread of diseased rodents. Those rodents carried fleas that transmitted the Plague bacterium from the rats to the humans. This ultimately killed half of Europe’s human population.

Once people realized the benefits cats could provide, they started to live harmoniously with humans. Especially prized as mousers on ships, cats traveled with people around the globe, which is why cats can be found all over the world.

Cats continued their service as mousers throughout history, even serving as official employees of the United States Postal Service as late as 19th and early 20th century America.

Towards the end of the 19th century, more Americans began to keep cats for their company as well as their utility. The first cat show was held at Madison Square Garden in 1895. By the end of World War I, cats were commonly accepted as house pets in the U.S.

Throughout all this time, cats could come and go freely from human households—even President Calvin Coolidge’s cat had free rein to wander to and from the White House during the 1920s.

Keeping cats indoors all the time was not possible—nor was it even a goal—until several important 20th century innovations: refrigeration, kitty litter, and the prevalence of spaying and neutering.

Even though these changes to our modern lifestyle make keeping cats inside possible, biologically, cats are the same as they were thousands of years ago. Their role in our society has evolved and broadened over the last hundred years, but their basic behaviors and needs haven’t changed. And, just as the Industrial Age changed our eating habits, cats were forced into food changes as well. And that leads us to all the health problems we are seeing in cats presently.

Reasons Cats Vomit

Food Allergies

Grains – Cats do not have the ability to digest grains or other carbohydrates. These are often a large portion of low-quality foods and can easily irritate the wall of the GI tract.

Low quality food or treats – treats containing things such as propylene glycol or meat by-products are commonly a cause of GI inflammation

Cow’s milk- Cats do not have the proper enzymes to break down cow’s milk. (*However, they can tolerate and digest raw goat’s milk. It has lactase and 30 other enzymes to prevent lactose intolerance, making it easy for cats to digest!)


Switch to human-grade canned food then slowly transition to freeze-dried or frozen raw food. Alternate proteins every 3 months. Add raw goat milk to the diet.


Cats simply gorge themselves sometimes. When there is too much food in the stomach, it can cause the body to expel it. Remedy: For single cat households – give small portions over an hour. For multiple cats – separate cats for 20 minutes during feeding.

Food timing

Cats have an internal clock. They know when feeding time is approaching. Their bodies will begin producing digestive enzymes in preparation of eating. If they do not get fed at the normal time, they may vomit a foamy greenish substance.

Remedy: You may avoid this by feeding on a regimented schedule. Change the schedule daily.


This is a common diagnosis in felines, however pancreatitis is often misdiagnosed. Most of the time, the problem is leaky gut syndrome.

Remedy: Adding digestive enzymes to the food, such as raw goat milk or fermented fish stock, will help digestion occur more effectively and can heal the GI tract.


By nature of the self-grooming process, cats end up ingesting their own hair. Sometimes, a lot of it. It clogs up the stomach and interrupts digestion. It is difficult to breakdown and is not digested.

Remedy: Brush the cat frequently, add coconut oil and raw goats milk to diet. Hairballs will occur less or be eliminated altogether.

Household Toxicities

Cat often ingest plants, chemicals (cleaning or anti-freeze), and salt from the sidewalk or road.

Remedy: Keep plants out of reach of cats. Provide some fresh catnip or cat grass that they may eat. Use non-toxic cleaning products, such as white vinegar, baking soda, or purchase from companies such as Meyer’s or Method. Keep chemicals in the garage safely closed. Use a pet-safe ice melter on outside areas that pets access. Take shoes off at the door.

General Feline Nutrition Information:

Cats are not wired by nature to be grazers, or grain eaters. They are designed to catch and kill prey 2 – 3 times daily and fast in between. But they MUST eat up to 3 times a day. Cats cannot handle long term fasting. They can get hepatic lipidosis and die. Hepatic lipidosis is fatty liver disease. Normally, when a body is undernourished or starved, the body automatically moves fat from its reserves to the liver to be converted into lipoproteins for energy. Cat’s bodies are not designed to convert large stores of fat, so when a cat is in starvation mode, the fat that is released to the liver is not processed efficiently, resulting in a fatty and low functioning liver. As the fat accumulates in the liver it becomes swollen and turns yellow. Because it is not able to process red blood cells efficiently, the yellow pigment that makes up a portion of the red blood cell is released into the bloodstream, causing a yellowing of the eyes. If not treated promptly, hepatic lipidosis can lead to various complications and eventually death.

Feed WHOLE foods, NOT subpar or rendered meats. These are not approved for human consumption. Rendered meat can be legally sourced from dead and diseased animals, euthanized shelter animals, meat from China, and even roadkill.

Cats have addictive taste buds – they crave higher fat and saltier foods. Big brands spend millions of dollars researching what shape and size of kibble cats will develop a preference for, instead of spending the money on using safe, healthy ingredients.

Top Feline Diets (in order of nutritional impact)

Homemade raw, appropriately balanced food. However, cats cannot live on muscle meat alone. They must have a calcium source (bones) and a vitamin and mineral source (organ meat). Commercially available frozen raw food Freeze-dried raw food Canned food Dry food – must be grain free, potato free, and low-carbohydrate

Food Weaning & Transitioning:

PATIENCE is key. Don’t play hardball with cats. Sometimes it can take 6 months to a year to successfully transition a cat. Offer slowly. Ration throughout the day. Goal is to create a little hunger to entice them to eat but NEVER to fast cat.

Transition should be: dry food to canned wet food to raw food

Advice from a Local Vet on Transitioning:

If kitty has eaten nothing but dry, put a small amount of canned under the dry food so they must get used to the smell. Do this for a week or so. Then put the canned on top of the dry so they must eat it to get to the dry. Gradually take the dry out of the equation. Once kitty is comfortable eating canned, offer some raw. The consistency is close to canned. Therefore, some cats transition quickly at this point. But, as we all know, cats are not happy with change. Some will protest. Stick with it, no matter how frustrating it may be. You and your cat will be much happier in the end.


Dr. Doug Knueven – (notes taken from Dr. Knueven speaking at a raw food seminar in Pittsburgh, PA)

54 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Blog-November 2020-Get Pumped for Pumpkin!

November already?  Hard to believe we are so deep into the fall season.  Time seems to be going fast and slow all at the same time! While we are not huge fans of pumpkin spice everything, we are huge


bottom of page