Is vomiting in cats normal?

Author: Michelle Gallmeier MV MSc
Medical Director Dra. Michu – Feline Medicine

The quick answer is NO. Vomiting in the cat is a clinical sign that can have many causes, these can be as broad as a hairball to major cardiac damage (1). Regardless of the cause, vomiting is a reason to consult your veterinarian.

Over the years, medical research has gathered much data on the most common causes, including food sensitivity, which is independent of the age, breed and sex of the cat (2). Another cause of vomiting are infectious agents, among the most important in young cats are diseases such as panleukopenia, feline infectious peritonitis. In these same young cats, foreign bodies (3) are found as a non-infectious agent.

Hairball vomiting in cats is more common than in other species and is also considered pathological as it can be caused by excessive grooming. This excessive grooming causes gastritis or irritation at the level of the first portion of the intestine, the duodenum, which causes vomiting in cats (2). If a cat vomits more than 2 times per month, for several months, it can be considered a chronic vomiting cat and the cause of this vomiting should be investigated.

In consultation, the different causes of vomiting should be ruled out, to begin with the veterinarian can be guided especially in the age, likewise, laboratory tests, ultrasound scans, even endoscopy (3) in order to reach a diagnosis to know the cause of vomiting.

Vomiting in cats can become complicated and seriously deteriorate the health of our pets.

Complications of vomiting can be prevented, the best way to do so is with proper nutrition, as well as visits to the veterinarian at least once a year. We must be aware that no type of vomiting is normal, all vomiting is pathological and it is important to diagnose its cause (2). It is important to consider that long or short-haired cats should not vomit hairballs, if they do it is because they are grooming themselves too much and this may be due to ethological causes.


  1. Lund, EM, Armstrong, PJ, Kirk, CA. Health status and population characteristics of dogs and cats examined in private veterinary practices in the United States. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999 ; 214: 1336 – 1341 .
  2. Batchelor D, Devauchelle P, Elliott J, Elwood C, et all. Mechanisms, causes, investigation and management of vomiting disorders in cats: a literature review. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, vol. 15, 4: pp. 237-265.
  3. Guilford, WG, Markwell, PJ, Jones, BR. Prevalence and causes of food sensitivity in cats with chronic pruritus, vomiting or diarrhea . J Nutr 1998 ; 128: 2790S – 2791S .