Admittedly, it’s not a very glamorous subject but, alas, most cat owners are familiar with this problem. Cats have delicate stomachs so you never know when you might find a little "gift" somewhere around your home. Often, there’s no need to worry; cats can vomit for a number of harmless reasons. However, you shouldn’t treat this behaviour lightly as it can hide a more serious disorder.
Common causes of cat vomiting
Hairballs, also known as trichobezoars, are one of the most frequent causes of cat vomiting and are caused by a concentration of hair/fur in the stomach of your cat. While they are generally not serious, it is better to prevent them from forming as they create a risk of intestinal blockage. If you have a long-haired cat, make sure you brush them regularly. You can also ensure your cat has a high-fibre diet or ask your vet to prescribe a treatment.
Another common occurrence among cats is vomiting shortly after eating (usually after being fed dry food). In this case, your cat is regurgitating due to having swallowed their food too quickly. If your cat has a "greedy" side, you can reduce the risk of regurgitation by dividing up their meals even more and by spreading out their food (scatter the food on a large plate rather than putting it in a bowl). Raising their bowl by a few centimetres can also yield very good results.
A symptom of certain cat disorders or diseases
Aside from the cases mentioned above–which are quite common and are no cause for alarm–, your cat may be vomiting for a more serious reason, such as food poisoning, allergies, parasites, gastrointestinal illness or inflammation of the stomach or oesophagus.
Certain health conditions can also cause vomiting in cats. These include pancreatitis (common in cats), thyroid disease and renal failure. Gastrointestinal cancer is also a possible cause. Obviously, these are the worst-case scenarios, but it is better to be vigilant all the same.
Observation is key
So, what should you do if your cat vomits? First of all, keep an eye on them. If they look tired, have lost their appetite or are running a temperature, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Other symptoms, such as diarrhoea or blood in their vomit, should be treated in the same way.
Otherwise, continue to observe them and make sure they don’t eat immediately after vomiting so that their stomach has time to recover. Decrease the size of their meals over the following days to avoid the recurrence of vomiting. In general, it is best to avoid feeding your cat foods that are too rich or high in fat.