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Why Does My Cat’s Vomit Look Like Poop?

The one thing that cats do more quickly than other pets is vomit, and sometimes there does not need to be a reason or underlying factor. When a cat vomits, this could also signal a serious medical condition. Cats vomit for several reasons.

  • Eating spoiled food
  • Formation of hairballs
  • Medicine
  • Upset stomach
  • Systemic illness
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Esophagitis
  • Stomach inflammation
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation of the stomach or gastritis
  • Allergies to certain foods
  • Swallowing a foreign object
  • Eating too fast

Occasional vomiting should not be a common concern for cat parents. However, if your cat vomits regularly, there is an underlying cause. Cats are meticulous groomers, meaning cats lick their fur all day. This loose fur is swallowed and does not digest, but forms a ball in the cat’s stomach. When this hairball becomes too big, the cat vomits it. However, if your cat vomits multiple times a week, it is time for a vet exam.

Monitor and document for the vet how many times your cat vomits and the appearance of the vomit. This information helps the vet identify the reason your cat vomits.

Is it Regurgitation or Vomit?

Vomiting happens when the cat forcefully brings up the contents of the stomach, upper intestines, mouth, throat, and esophagus. Vomiting lasts for a few minutes. As your cat vomits and remains in the process of vomiting, your cat may keep moving around. I have noticed that when one of my cats vomits it,

  • Looks different, such as ill-looking
  • May start to drool
  • Start to retch
  • Displaying heaving before actually vomiting.
  • Happens quickly
  • Has no warning

If you can distinguish between your cat’s actual vomiting and regurgitation, it helps your vet narrow down why your cat is doing this.

Why Does My Cat’s Vomit Look Like Poop?

There are different types of cat vomit. The appearance of a cat’s vomit depends on the cause of the vomiting. When your cat grooms, they swallow large quantities of their fur. Their stomach can handle only so much hair until it creates a ball in its stomach, and the cat must expel the hairball. This is normal for a cat.

If your cat is vomiting hairballs too frequently, you can buy dry cat food that addresses hairballs. The label will say the food is for hairball relief. If your cat vomits the following, it is time to visit your vet so the doctor can figure out the problem, as these signs point to a more severe health issue.

  • Blood
  • Bile
  • Mucus
  • Partially digested food

Your vet will ask you the color and consistency of the cat’s vomit. To make a parallel comparison, vomit in cats depends on what was eaten. Foods and some non-food items like cat treats contain an element of dyes. Because of the dyes, you cannot rely on a definitive diagnosis. For example, if the thing your cat ate has red food dye and it vomited a red-colored substance, you may assume that your cat vomited blood when it did not.

The color of your cat’s vomit can signify the exact underlying issue, such as in the following examples.

  • If your cat’s vomit is brown, orange, or yellow-colored, this may signify undigested food and bile from the stomach.
  • If your cat’s vomit is pink or red, this could signify blood in the contents in addition to dyes in the product the cat consumed. They may have swallowed a foreign object, or simply red dyes in food or treats.

If your cat vomits what looks like a clear fluid (gastric juices) or white and frothy substance, the cat’s stomach may be empty, and this substance is salvia from the esophagus. This is not actually vomiting, but regurgitating. Clear vomit can point to,

  • Hairballs
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Parasites
  • Constipation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Eating too fast
  • An internal obstruction
  • If the cat skips a meal or is not fed on time, the stomach juices collect and cause the cat to vomit.

It is vital to monitor the vomiting, the episodes, and your cat’s behavior. When frequent vomiting is present, there may be other symptoms such as,

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea

Our cat, Isabella, started vomiting on occasion about a year ago. Since all cats vomit, I did not overthink this as she was eating like a horse, drinking water well, and is active. However, the vomiting increased, as did weight loss and diarrhea. Her weight plummeted to 7.2 pounds from 16 pounds. Finally, she is now regaining some weight and is on an average weight of 8.4 pounds. I would like to see her weigh at least 10 pounds.

The vet diagnosed Isabella with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. I discovered that grains trigger her vomiting and make diarrhea worse. I now feed her grain-free dry and wet food.

Even though she was eating well, she was not digesting what she ate. The vet sees her every month, and she is on a gut-healing, holistic remedy which I cannot get her to take in any way or form. So, she receives a vitamin B shot every month, and a steroid shot every few months. She is gradually and slowly getting better.

When your cat starts vomiting more than usual, take it to the doctor and do not wait. I waited too long because Isabella was showing no other symptoms. Because of waiting, it has been difficult getting her digestive system to heal, and it is taking longer.

  • If your cat vomits a green liquid, it could mean bile or green foreign material. Many foods have green dyes.
  • If your cat vomits a black or brown substance and resembles coffee-ground emesis, it could signify that your cat is bleeding internally somewhere in its body. This color and type of vomit mean you need to get an emergency vet visit. The most common site of bleeding is the esophagus or digestive tract.
  • Only your vet can distinguish what is wrong and pin a diagnosis on the reason for the vomiting.

How long a hairball sits in the cat’s stomach depends on how big and tight the hairball becomes. When a cat finally throws up a hairball, it can indeed look like a piece of poop. This hairball sits in the cat’s stomach, causing stomach irritation until it makes the cat vomit.

It is concerning when a cat actually vomits poop, especially if the vomit smells like poop. This poop, vomit, is partially digested food thrown from the intestinal tract. When a cat vomits, this partially digested food cannot be broken down in the intestinal tract, meaning that your cat could have an issue such as inflammation in the stomach lining or gastritis.

However, not I or you can define a proper diagnosis and must leave this up to your vet. You must call your vet and take your cat for an exam. It takes your doctor’s expertise to diagnose and implement the proper treatment care plan.

You can feed your cat dry or wet food that is sensitive to the stomach. This food brand is labeled, Sensitive to the Stomach.

If your cat is ten years or older, it is considered a senior. Age brings internal body changes that bring about a different list of possible ailments. It is good to ask your vet to do some baseline blood work.

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • IBS

*Never administer another pet’s medicine or human over-the-counter medication to your cat. This action can make your cat sicker or cause it to die. 

What To Do If My Cat’s Vomit Looks Like Poop?

Depending on the vet’s diagnosis, there are treatment options for your cat’s vomiting.

  • If your cat has an illness like kidney disease, the goal is to treat the disease, which helps to decrease the vomiting. You will work closely with your vet.
  • If your cat is vomiting hairballs, you can see the matted ball of hair. You can give your cat food made to help decrease hairballs, or possibly a cat, lax on occasion, will help. Speak with your vet first.
  • If your cat has gastroenteritis, the vet may order anti-nausea medication like Cerenia.
  • IBS requires a diet change, such as our Isabella. Consider your cat’s diet.
  • If your cat swallowed a foreign object, it might require emergency surgery to remove the thing.
  • Home remedies should not be tried unless you first speak to your vet.
  • Use treats sparingly.
  • Do not give your cat small toys that they can swallow.
  • Specialized diets through the vet may help to decrease vomiting.