My cat occasionally throws up white foam as a result of eating grass in the back yard. He’s an ancient outdoor cat in a predator free environment, and these occasional unpleasant vomiting episodes aren’t nice but they are nothing to worry about. However, a cat throwing up white foam isn’t always no big deal. The trick to knowing when to seek medical attention from your veterinarian is spotting the other symptoms that come alongside it.
Why is My Cat Throwing Up White Foam?
A cat puking up white foam may also show other signs of illness, which could narrow down the cause of the issue. Or, it could be as innocent as some indigestion or something new in their diet not sitting well.
It’s not always possible to diagnose the issue at home, so it’s a good idea to inform your vet if your cat starts throwing up white foam. Especially if it is an ongoing problem, or your cat is showing other symptoms, such as lethargy, or refusing to eat. Let’s take a look at some potential reasons that a cat would throw up white foam. Your veterinarian may diagnose your cat with one of the following!
Indigestion or IBS
Some cats may throw up white foam if they are experiencing stomach problems. This could be a lesser degree of gastrointestinal irritation, such as indigestion. Or, it could be a chronic problem, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Other signs of a digestive issue can include:
- Infrequent bowel movements
Some cats may also throw up white foam whilst trying to regurgitate a hairball, or fur that has become trapped in their throat and digestive tract. This is a common problem that most cats experience. Particularly if they have long, fluffy coats. They will remove the hairball by retching until it is regurgitated. And this can also bring up fluids from the digestive tract.
Gastritis is the inflammation of a cat’s stomach lining. This can cause discomfort and a number of physical symptoms, including vomiting. Other signs of gastritis in cats include lethargy, dehydration, and increased thirst. Gastritis in cats can be either acute or chronic, so it’s important to communicate any symptoms with your vet.
There are a number of causes for gastritis in cats. From stress or dietary intolerances to reactions to medicines and more serious medical issues.
Pancreatitis in cats is the inflammation of your cat’s pancreas. Like gastritis, pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Not all cats with pancreatitis will vomit white foam, but many do suffer from nausea. And, some will experience vomiting as a symptom.
If your cat has chronic pancreatitis, your vet may try a number of different solutions to manage your cat’s symptoms. This can include dietary changes, medication, or anti-nausea therapy. But, the management will likely vary from one cat to another.
Hepatic failure is also known as liver disease in cats. Vomiting is just one symptom of liver disease in cats. Other symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal swelling
- Excessive urination
- Excessive thirst
Early treatment will really help your cat if they experience liver failure, so it’s important to schedule a vet check-up if your cat experiences the above symptoms.
If a cat has diabetes, their body will either struggle to produce or to react to insulin. This, in turn, impacts the sugar levels in their blood. Vomiting is a less common symptom for this metabolic disorder, but it is seen in some affected cats. Other, more common, symptoms include: excessive thirst, excessive urination, sudden weight loss, and more.
Insulin therapy and dietary management are the most common treatment options for cats that experience diabetes.
Renal insufficiency refers to kidney disease in cats. There are a large number of kidney diseases in cats, but one of the most common is chronic kidney disease.
Your cat’s renal system filters out impurities in their blood. So, if your cat has chronic kidney disease, they will experience a buildup of waste products which are normally removed by the kidneys through the process of urinating. Other symptoms of chronic kidney disease in cats can include weight loss, loss of appetite, and even anemia.
Hyperthyroidism is an increasingly common problem in cats. In fact, one study predicts that over 10% of senior cats develop hyperthyroidism.
Parasites, particularly those that affect the gastrointestinal system, can cause symptoms like vomiting, lethargy and loose stools. The most common treatment for parasites is medication. But, in some cases a parasite may go undetected, causing no symptoms of illness.
Like humans, cats can suffer from allergies. Symptoms are often similar, including vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, coughing, or itchy skin. It’s possible to treat the symptoms of allergic reaction, but treating the symptoms alone will not eliminate the cause of the reaction.
Eating Something Toxic
Another common cause of vomiting white foam and vomiting in general for cats is eating something toxic. This could be something indigestible, or just something non-cat safe.
You can work to minimize the risk of this cause by removing any toxic plants from your house and yard. Keep anything that isn’t cat-safe, like cleaning products, locked away from your kitty. And, if you suspect your cat has ingested something they shouldn’t, it’s important to act fast to ensure their highest chance of making it through safely.
When to See the Veterinarian
There are so many different reasons that your cat may be throwing up white foam. The urgency of the situation can differ. Some cats may just be regurgitating a hairball. But others could be suffering from a much more serious issue, such as renal or liver failure.
You can also observe how often your cat is vomiting white foam, and whether there are any recent changes to their diet or lifestyle. This is information that could help your vet!