Vomiting, or the forceful ejection of stomach and proximal
duodenal (upper small intestinal) contents through the mouth, is
a symptom commonly observed in cats; it is not a disease. Your
catís vomiting can be a symptom of any one of a wide range of
acute or chronic illnesses encompassing almost all body systems,
from cardiovascular and respiratory to gastrointestinal to renal
(kidney) to dermatologic. Differentiating vomiting from coughing
and regurgitation is important.
When a cat is vomiting, you should see a considerable amount of
abdominal movement. The cat's abdomen will seem to pulsate
violently, and the cat's head might appear to bob.
involves the thorax rather than the abdomen. A cat that is
coughing will often crane its head and neck forward, holding its
head still while keeping its front paws under its chest and its
elbows off to the side.
Regurgitation, or the passive expulsion of food or fluid from
the oral cavity, pharyngeal cavity, or esophagus, usually is
sudden, without the violent wind-up that proceeds vomiting. A
regurgitating cat might be silent or could sound like it's
If your cat has recently been vomiting or vomits more than
once a month, please consult with your veterinarian. The
websites reviewed in this Cat Health Topic can help you
determine whether your cat is vomiting, what other signs to look
for, when you should go to your veterinarian, and what tests
might be needed to determine what is causing your cat's
First you'll want to make sure your cat is actually vomiting.
Many people confuse feline vomiting with coughing (and vice
versa). This YouTube video shows a
. Notice the violent pulsating motion in the
cat's abdomen. If your cat vomits, you should see a similar
Vomiting should be differentiated from regurgitation.
The College of Veterinary Medicine of Washington State
University (WSU) has an excellent web page about vomiting that
explains in detail the differences
between vomiting and regurgitation. The website also includes diagrams
of the cat's digestive tract that might prove useful as you read
through the other websites mentioned in this Cat Health Topic.
Elaine Wexler-Mitchell, DVM, DABVP, is a former president of
the Academy of Feline Medicine and a member of the American
Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). On the Cat Channel
website she talks about regurgitation
and offers some tips to help your cat avoid it.
Many veterinary hospital websites include information about
vomiting. For example Columbia Animal Hospital (Columbia,
Maryland) provides a thorough rundown of the many causes
of vomiting. (The page also touches on some of the causes of
regurgitation and diarrhea.) Your own veterinarian's website
might include useful information too.
An article written by AAFP member Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, JD
about Cats Health and Wellness Center, Yorba Linda,
California), explains how to
recognize vomiting, lists some of the clues you can gather
to help the veterinarian reach a diagnosis, and discusses some
of diagnostic tools that might be needed to diagnose the cause
of your cat's vomiting.
sheet about vomiting, produced by the Israeli organization
Concern for Helping Animals in Israel, includes
a questionnaire covering many of the things your veterinarian
might ask you about when trying to diagnose the cause of your
Llibertat Real Sampietro, DVM
Clinica Veterinaria Bendinat