What does it mean if my cat is throwing up undigested food?

  • My 9 year old female domestic shorthair periodically throws up undigested food

  • Hi there, this is Dr Linda, a small animal vet with 10 years of clinical experience.



    I'm sorry to hear your cat has been doing this.

    When a cat bring back food that has not had time to digest, this is usually Regurgitation. It is different to vomiting as there are no real abdominal contractions or nausea, the food just comes right back up with little effort.


    There are quite a few possible causes including:


    • Eating too quickly
    • A partial food pipe or gut obstruction
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Megaoesophagus
    • A tumour
    • Etc.


    If this is a new sign at her age, it is something we should have a vet look into.

    This may include a physical exam, blood test and some imaging of her GI tract.


    At home, I'd offer a sensitivity diet and feed from a slow feeder bowl little and often.

    I'd want to ensure she is up to date with a good quality wormer.

    We can also offer some probiotics, which may help with her gut health, and won't do any harm.


    If prone to hair balls, a hair ball paste can be trialled.


    Hopefully we can get some answers soon.

  • @Linda Simon my female bobtail licks herself all the time and her sister as well.Then she pukes up a hair ball I have not tried hairball paste.She also pukes up her food usually unchewed.For a while I gave her canned food,now she turns her nose up at that.She is about 9/10 years old ,could it be her teeth that she won't chew her dry food? What can I do to get her to eat wet food? I have tried several of the better brands.

  • Hi there and thank you for your question.

    As we are seeing fur balls, I'd try to prevent this by grooming both kitties daily with a Furminator brush or similar. This helps eliminate dead and shed fur.

    I'd also start a fur ball paste, yes.


    If she is not chewing her food, she may be gobbling it too quickly. If she eats beside her sister, consider feeding them in separate rooms so she is not under pressure. We can use a slow feeder bowl too.


    As she is middle aged, dental disease is quite possible. Signs can include red gums, bad breath and brown build up on teeth. If she does have dental disease, a dental treatment is important to reduce discomfort and enable her to eat properly.


    It is very difficult to convince a cat to eat a certain type of food if they have no interest. We can try different flavors, warm it up and mix it with their current food in small amounts.

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