My kitten just threw up…HELP!

  • By:

    Dr. Edele Grey

    Dr. Edele Grey is a veterinary surgeon with seven years of experience. She professionally works mostly with horses but has treated pets of all sizes including terrapins, llamas, and others. Dr. Grey graduated with honors from the University College Dublin, Ireland, has completed further education in Equine Sports Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys writing about pet ownership and educating people about veterinary care of animals and preventing disease.

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  • Updated on: 26/05/2020

Those of us who have had cats before know nothing gets you out of your cosy, warm bed faster than the sound of that mournful mew that precedes a loud gag then retching and your cat throwing up a kitten-sized hairball onto your most delicate upholstery. Cat’s are frequent vomiters, but it’s important to know when to just reach for the cleaning supplies or when to visit your veterinarian.

my kitten threw up@Danilo Batista

Is it normal for kittens to throw up?

The short answer to this is yes. Cat’s can vomit due to hairballs, especially if they are long-haired and fastidious about their grooming habits. Stepping in the occasional small pile of vomit can be par for the course in owning a cat, but if your kitten is vomiting at regular or frequent intervals there may be cause for concern.

What are some causes of vomiting in kittens?

There are so many causes for vomiting in felines of all ages but some of the causes are listed here for you:

1. Hairballs

These are probably the most common cause of puking in cats of all ages but shouldn’t be painful and should only occur occasionally without causing your kitten any stress. Rarely, hairballs can cause a blockage within a kitten’s intestinal tract so keeping a close eye on how often your kitty brings up a hairball and their comfort can help you decide when some intervention may be required.

2. Foreign body

Kittens love to practice their hunting and attack skills often having a nibble during the attack on their unsuspecting toys. Keep an eye on toys to monitor for wear and tear or for any missing pieces which could cause your kitten to throw-up possibly due to the broken piece getting stuck in your kitty’s stomach or small intestine. These can cause a lot of discomfort for your kitten and they may be dull, some cases even need surgery to remove the offending object.

3. Dietary Indiscretion

House plants are not immune to kitty attacks and some can cause nasty tummy upsets or even worse complications. Most of these plants will cause your kitten to throw up after eating but to avoid any problems or longer-term complications, try to keep house plants and flower bouquets out of your kitten’s reach especially those that are toxic such as lilies, daffodils, and tulips.

4. Parasites

Internal parasitic worms are an uncommon culprit of kitty’s vomiting, but can be a cause of throwing-up in kittens that haven’t received regular anti-parasitic treatments. You may even find worms in the pool of “sick” in severe cases and you should take your kitten to your veterinarian for examination and treatment. Disgusting as it may seem, photos of the vomit contents may help your vet make a diagnosis regarding the type of parasite involved and thus the treatment required.

5. Infection

Gastrointestinal infections are common in young kittens and while most are short-lived, some may need treatment to prevent dehydration if your kitten is dull or vomiting excessively. These infections could be caused by viral or bacterial infections but only bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotic medications; supportive care with fluids and anti-inflammatory medications are very important in the case of viral infections. Some of the viral causes of vomiting can be contagious so you may need to isolate and disinfect your kitten’s toys, litter tray, and food bowls.

6. Organ disease

These tend to be seen in elder cats rather than kittens, however, it can still occur. These diseases can cause substances to build up within the bloodstream which can make your kitten feel poorly and nauseous. Kidney disease can cause vomiting of thick, yellow bile and is usually accompanied by dullness and changes to your kitten’s typical behavior.

7. Food Allergy

Some felines suffer from food sensitivities which can present as gastrointestinal distress including diarrhea and vomiting. These kitties often have itchy or flaky skin which can lead to over-grooming and hair loss. Diagnosis of a food allergy can take some time and many tests. If you suspect that your kitten has a food allergy, contact your veterinarian for some advice as rapid or frequent food changes can cause your kitten’s tummy to be even more upset

8. Travel sickness

Cats don’t tend to travel in cars as much as their canine counterparts and many suffer from car sickness which may range from nausea and drooling to actively barfing while traveling. If your kitten suffers from travel sickness, you may be able to give anti-nausea medication from your veterinarian to help in these situations.

What should I do if my kitten vomits?

If your cat is “chasing ghosts” through the house and then stops to vomit before resuming their activities, continues to eat and seems happy then there’s probably not much to worry about unless this persists or occurs very frequently. If your kitten is dull, lethargic or doesn’t want to eat and has also thrown-up then a trip to your veterinarian is prudent.

what should I do if my kitten vomits@expressiovisual / Freepik

Next up, analyze the offending pool of puke! The color and vomit contents can help determine the cause of your kitty’s problem; hairballs are usually accompanied by foamy, yellow-tinged fluid while blood or thick yellow fluid would warrant a visit to your veterinarian.

When should I be concerned about my kitten vomiting?

  • It can be difficult to determine if your kitten needs a trip to your veterinarian. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re in doubt then call your veterinarian who can advise you on the best course of action. In the meantime some things that can help you to decide when your kitten needs a veterinarian are covered here:
  • Demeanor – Happy, bright, and playful kittens that have thrown-up and continued to act normally are unlikely to require a visit to your veterinary clinic. Conversely, if your kitten becomes dull/quiet or lethargic then this indicates that your kitten is feeling rather poorly and may need some medication to help them feel better. Loss of appetite, hiding behaviors, or if your kitten is drooling or lip-smacking a lot can also be indicators that they feel nauseous and may need some anti-nausea medications. If there’s a possibility that your kitten has eaten something toxic or a piece of a toy or plastic etc then anti-nausea medicine shouldn’t be given and your veterinarian may recommend some further testing before administering any medications.
  • Frequency – Regular and frequent vomiting episodes with no other changes in behavior should be investigated to ensure your kitten isn’t suffering from intestinal parasites or organ diseases, though this doesn’t have to be an emergency appointment and can be made in the coming days when noticed. You should take your kitten to your veterinarian immediately if your kitten has vomited a number of times in a short space of time (hours) as your kitten may have an intestinal obstruction or gastrointestinal infection.
  • Content – Streaks of fresh blood or vomit that contains dark granules that look similar to coffee granules (digested blood) are a cause for concern and your kitten needs to see a veterinary surgeon rapidly. If your kitten’s throw-up contains pieces of a toy or plant or is anything other than a foamy, yellow-tinged color you should seek veterinary attention.
  • Kitten age and size – Young and small-sized kittens can become dehydrated and hypoglycemic (low blood sugar levels) rapidly if they are throwing-up and not eating or drinking. These kittens need veterinary attention as a matter of urgency to prevent them from becoming very weak.

Why is my kitten vomiting after eating?

why is my kitten vomiting after eating@nadiiaaks / Freepik

If your kitten brings up undigested food, it may be due to gulping down their breakfast too fast causing them to upchuck soon afterward. This is called regurgitation and is very common with many cats and nothing to worry about. If your kitten regurgitates then try feeding small, frequent meals to encourage slower eating or even try some special food dispenser toys or bowls that help to prevent your kitten from bolting down their meals.

So, in conclusion…if you have any concerns always contact your local veterinary clinic for advice or a consultation but remember to stock up on cleaning supplies for the almost inevitable occurrences of your healthy kitten upchucking across your favorite sweater or a new rug.

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