As a pet parent, you want the best for your cat. You certainly want to know if they are sick or are having physical problems. Since your cat can’t talk to you with words, all you can do is observe their behavior.
It can be difficult to tell if your cat is actually ill at times. Are they throwing up because they are in heat, or is there something else going on?
Do cats vomit when in season (heat)?
Heat causes all sorts of changes to your cat’s body, mental, and emotional states. It is easy to assume that it could also cause vomiting, but this is rarely the case.
Cat Heat Cycle
Cat’s get their first heat cycle between 4 and 12 months, with 6 months being the common age. They are polyestrus, which means they come into heat multiple times during a season.
They typically have heat cycles during longer days and warmer weather. However, indoor cats or those who are in tropical locations may cycle all year round.
Once they begin having heat cycles, they will have a cycle every few weeks if they aren’t pregnant. The cycle itself can last for up to two weeks. If they get pregnant, they will resume their cycle about 8 weeks after the kittens are born.
Vomitting During Heat
Hormonal fluctuations during the heat cycle can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in some animals. In humans, we call it morning sickness. It also occurs in dogs. However, it’s not common for cats to vomit when in heat.
It’s possible that the hormonal fluctuations of the heat cycle can cause vomitting in your cat, but it’s more likely something else is going on.
Stress and Anxiety
It is possible for the heat cycle to indirectly cause your cat to vomit. The heat cycle is stressful. Your cat will have a very strong urge to mate. When this is thwarted, it can cause anxiety and stress. In addition, the hormonal fluctuations of heat can cause them to feel restless, emotional, and irritable.
One study discovered that otherwise healthy cats were just as likely to experience vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite as sick kitties when exposed to stress. The study focused on stress caused by changes to the cat’s routine, but it’s safe to say this also applies to stress brought on by their heat cycle.
Why else might my cat be vomiting?
There are a myriad of reasons why your cat may be vomiting. Surprisingly, not all of the reasons for a cat vomiting are caused by stomach troubles.
Types of Vomitting in Cats
There are three basic types of vomiting in cats.
Occasional vomiting is normal cat behavior. Some cats vomit a few times a year, while others may vomit a few times a month. Your cat shouldn’t seem distressed by this type of vomiting, and it should not occur continuously.
Acute vomiting is sudden and severe. Your cat will vomit multiple times in a short time span. They may appear distressed when vomiting and not feel well.
Chronic vomitting is similar to occasional vomiting, but it occurs more often. If your cat vomits several times a week, this is considered chronic. Your cat may seem unphased by the vomiting, or they may seem slightly distressed.
Drugs and Toxins
Cats are curious, and they explore the world with their mouth. Occasionally, they will ingest something that is poisonous to them. There are a wide variety of potential toxins that your cat can be exposed to.
Many human medications are very dangerous for cats. There are over 700 house plants that are toxic to cats, with 30 or more being commonly found in owner’s homes. Cleaning solutions are another danger lurking in your home.
Even some foods can be toxic to your cat. Chocolate and garlic are two examples of human foods that can be dangerous for your feline.
Diet is often the culprit of vomiting. A low quality food or a diet that is too high in fat can cause your kitty to vomit. Food allergies and intolerances are another possibility. If your cat is allergic to their food, they may vomit and have diarrhea after eating.
If you’ve changed their diet recently, this can also cause stomach troubles. If you change your cats food, do so gradually. Begin by feeding them small amounts of the new food along with their old food.
If your kitty gets lots of treats or human food, consider cutting back on these items.
Eating too fast can also cause your cat to have an upset stomach. If they gobble up all their food as soon as you put it down, this is likely the problem.
Raising the food bowl helps some cats slow down. Just turn a bowl or colander upside down, and sit the food bowl on top of it. You can also try feeding smaller portions more often.
Consider getting a slow feed bowl. These bowls are designed to look like a maze. It forces the cat to take time getting each piece of kibble, so they can’t just gobble it all up.
The last dietary issue is not feeding your cat often enough. If your cat goes for more than 12 hours without food, stomach acid can build up, causing stomach upset.
Cats are notorious for their hairballs, and they often leave them for their owner to find after puking them up. Hairballs are a natural result of grooming.
When your cat grooms themselves with their tongue, loose hairs stick to it. These hairs are then swallowed. They cannot digest the hair, so it ideally comes out in their poop.
Sometimes the hair gets matted into a ball inside the stomach. It won’t fit through the intestines in this form, so the only way out is up. As it comes up through the esophagus, it’s further molded into a ball shape before coming out of the cat’s mouth.
Cats can also get hair gastritis. The hair causes inflammation of the stomach lining, which leads to vomitting. Your cat may vomit several times before they are able to rid themselves of the hairball.
To prevent hairballs, you can brush your cat regularly. This keeps them from picking up lots of hair during grooming. You can also purchase gels or chewable tablets that help the hair pass through the digestive system.
Bacteria or Viruses
Bacteria and viruses are an obvious cause of vomiting. A bacterial or viral infection can be in the stomach itself, or in another part of the body. A stomach virus will cause vomiting. However, a urinary infection can also cause vomiting, because the kidneys aren’t functioning properly.
Parasites get into your cat’s digestive system and steal vital nutrition. If your cat has parasites, you may notice them losing weight. Their skin and coat may look less healthy. Severe infestations can cause vomiting and coughing.
There are many chronic diseases that can cause vomiting in cats. Cancer, pancreatitis, liver failure, and kidney failure are a few chronic diseases that can cause your kitty to vomit.
Depending on the disease, you may notice other signs of illness as well. If your cat becomes less active, loses their appetite, or begins to lose weight, it’s time for a vet appointment.
What are the symptoms of a cat in heat?
Cats come into heat often, so the symptoms of heat sometimes seem like normal cat behavior. These include physical and behavioral changes.
One of the most difficult aspects of heat for owners is the cat’s vocalizations. They can sound haunted or even in pain with their meows and yowls. You may run into the living room in the middle of hte night, thinking your cat is in serious distress, to find them meowing at the window.
Restlessness and a Desire to Go Out
As your cat’s hormones ramp up, she will want to follow her biological drive. A wild cat will roam, seeking mates. Your domesticated diva wants to do the same.
It’s normal for cats to breed with many mates, so the search can be intense. As tempting as it is to allow her to go outside to ease her distress, you shouldn’t let her out unless you want kittens.
Most cats become more affectionate during heat. She may seek your attention more often. She will rub her head against you, and other objects. In addition to a show of affection, she has scent glands on each side of her face. Rubbing her head allows her to mark things. It’s essentially a calling card saying she’s available to mate.
You may also notice her pushing her bottom against you, or even other pets in the house. When you pet her, she may stretch out the front half of her body, sticking her butt in the air. This is the mating position.
She will also use her urine to signal her sexual availability to other cats. Pheremones are released in the urine during heat. Your previously litterbox trained kitty may begin spraying the house with urine. It’s her way of giving the boys her number. Even if there are no male cats nearby, she will do this out of instinct.
Cats highly attuned sense of smell and hearing means your kitty can draw males from all over the neighborhood. You may see cats you’ve never seen before hanging around your house. Your female will be desperate to escape the confines of the house to mate with them.
Discharge and Grooming
When your cat is in heat, she will groom herself more often, particularly her genital area. She may have a slight amount of bloody discharge, but you aren’t likely to see it. Most often, the discharge is clear. She will work hard to keep herself clean, so you may never see any discharge. You will see her spending more time grooming the area than usual.
Do cats feel bad when in heat?
Your cat can appear to be out of sorts and even in pain during heat. Does it make them feel bad?
Cats can seem to be distressed by their heat cycle. It’s believed they don’t feel bad the way humans do, however. Much of our discomfort comes from shedding our uterine lining. Cats do not shed their lining when in heat. Instead, the heat cycle simply means they can breed and get pregnant.
What to do if my cat in heat has started vomiting more?
If your cat is vomiting frequently, this is a cause for concern. You should bring them to the vet. Your vet may run tests, and will ask you questions about your cat’s condition.
It’s helpful to write down some important information. When did the vomiting start? How often does it occur? Has your cat continued to eat and drink? Are there any other symptoms you’ve noticed?
When you are stressed, remembering details can be difficult. Writing it down allows you to give the vet the information they need to treat your kitty.
When is Vomiting an Emergency?
Some conditions require treatment within a day or two, while others require immediate medical attention.
If you notice blood in your cat’s vomit, they are very lethargic, seem to be in pain, or have a fever, it’s time for an emergency vet visit. If your cat can’t keep anything down for 12 hours or more, or they have pale, tacky gums, they are likely dehydrated. This needs immediate treatment as well.
Do cats vomit when the weather is hot?
Vomitting in hot weather can be a sign of heat stroke, which can be deadly for your cat.
Signs of Heat Stroke
The first signs of heat stroke most owners notice is heavy or rapid panting. Their pulse will also race. This is their attempt to kill their body through panting. You may also notice a red tongue and mouth.
Your cat may stretch out their body. They may drool or have glazed eyes. They may become restless and agitated or lethargic.
As their body temperature continues to rise, other symptoms begin. Vomiting is a sign of heat stroke. Unfortunately, it also dehydrates your cat at the time they need water most.
You may notice your cat stumbling or appearing disoriented. They will become uncoordinated. In severe cases, your cat will collapse or lose consciousness.