Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Undigested Food?

When a cat coughs up food that has not been digested, it is throwing up undigested food. This usually means the food is coming right back up as it is, without being broken down in the stomach.

Why is my cat throwing up undigested food? This is a common question many cat owners ask themselves. Cats can vomit for various reasons, and throwing up undigested food may be cause for concern about your cat’s health.

There can be several reasons why a cat may throw up undigested food. It could be due to problems with the cat’s digestive system. Sometimes cats eat too fast or gobble their food too quickly without chewing properly. A cat may also throw up undigested food if it has an allergy or intolerance to certain ingredients in the cat food. This needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.

Causes Of Throwing Up Undigested Cat Food

Cats may throw up undigested food for different reasons. Understanding possible causes can help cat owners care for their pet. Throwing up food is not always serious, but sometimes it means there is an underlying issue.

A cat’s diet, how they eat, and any medical problems could cause vomiting of undigested food. Is Friskies cat food bad for cats? By learning more, owners can determine if a vet visit is needed. Some common reasons include eating too fast, not chewing properly, allergies to food, and more.

Is It How My Cat Is Eating Cat Food?

Sometimes the way a cat eats can cause vomiting later. Eating very quickly means food moves too fast through their digestive system. Cats also need to take time to chew their food well.

Rushing through meals or gulping food down can upset a cat’s stomach. Undigested pieces of food then come back up. Paying attention to how fast a cat eats may help reduce throwing up.

Eating Too Fast

Cats who eat too quickly do not give their bodies time to realize they are full. This can lead to overeating which is hard on their stomach. It is best to divide meals into smaller portions throughout the day.

Eating slower also allows cats to chew their food better. Not chewing well means food moves through their system without fully breaking down. Their stomach then pushes undigested clumps back up.

Not Chewing Properly

Some cats get so excited for meals they forget to chew. But they need to chew to grind food into smaller pieces digest easier. Not chewing results in bigger chunks that are difficult for stomachs to handle.

Large undigested pieces of food can irritate a cat’s stomach and cause vomiting. Taking time to eat and assisting cats in chewing food more can help prevent food from being thrown up still whole.


Overfilling their stomach is never good for cats. When cats eat too much at once they try to digest more than they can handle. Their body pushes the undigested excess back up as vomiting.

Portion control for meals is important. Cats that do not overeat give their digestive system a healthy amount to break down. Less risk of vomiting reduces when cats are not stuffing themselves at mealtimes.

Exercising After Eating

Getting very active right after a meal can upset some cats’ stomachs. Jostling a full tummy makes it harder for food to digest properly. Undigested food then gets pushed out as vomit.

It is best for cats to relax for 30 minutes following a meal. Just like people, sudden exercise on a full stomach causes discomfort and potential for throwing up in cats. Light activity is fine, but no roughhousing shortly after eating.

Could It Be An Issue With The Cat Food?

Many factors with a cat’s diet could result in regurgitation of undigested food. Allergies, changes in brand or type, poor quality food, and high fat content are some dietary issues to consider. Finding the specific cause helps owners better care for their pet.

Food Allergies Or Intolerances

Food allergies are when a cat’s immune system reacts abnormally to certain ingredients. Primary allergens include specific proteins in meat or grain. Intolerances lack an immune response but still cause issues like vomiting.

When exposed to an allergen or intolerance, symptoms occur within a few hours. Undigested regurgitation is common as an allergic reaction causes stomach distress. Identifying and avoiding problematic ingredients can resolve the problem.

Change In Cat Food

Sudden changes to a cat’s regular diet can upset their digestive system at first. Their body needs time to adjust to different ingredients, protein sources, or textures in new food.

Minor vomiting from diet changes often clears up in a few days as cats adapt. But ongoing regurgitation may signal struggle to tolerate the new food properly. Slow gradual transitions between foods reduces risk of stomach issues.

Poor Quality Or Spoiled Cat Food

Rancid fats, spoiled vitamins/minerals, and presence of harmful molds or bacteria can make any cat food dangerous to digest. Consuming poor quality food stresses stomachs.

Signs of spoiled cat food include odd smells, strange tastes, changes in color or texture. Throw away anything questionable and switch to a fresh, properly stored brand instead. Raw diet risks should be carefully researched.

Too Much Fat In Cat Food

High fat diets are difficult to break down. Too many calories from fat overload digestive systems. Cats do need some fat but should get most calories from lean proteins instead.

Reading labels helps select appropriate fat levels suitable for each cat’s lifestyle and energy needs. More active cats especially do well on limited fat diets avoiding vomiting from overly rich foods.

Medical Reasons For Throwing Up Undigested Cat Food?

Underlying medical conditions can contribute to regurgitation as well. Considering pet health issues that impact digestion is important for cat caregivers. Targeting any underlying problems alongside dietary solutions leads to the best outcomes.

Continued vomiting despite dietary changes suggests a vet visit. Identifying potential illnesses early benefits cats through prompt care. Some common digestive system disorders include pancreatitis, intestinal blockages, and more serious issues.

Digestive System Problems

Gastrointestinal conditions like inflammation of the stomach or intestines disturb normal food breakdown. Ulcers, irritable bowel, food sensitivities, and inflammatory bowel disease all interfere with digestion.

Undigested vomiting results as irritated tissues struggle to properly break down and absorb nutrients from meals. Medication or dietary therapy aids healing to prevent recurring regurgitation.


This inflammation of the pancreas causes enzyme issues that interfere with digestion. Pancreatic enzymes help break down proteins, carbs and fats, so insufficient levels leave food only partially broken down.

Stomach acids then force undigested chunks back up. Pancreatitis causes additional symptoms like abdominal pain, so veterinary treatment addresses the root cause.

Intestinal Blockage Or Foreign Object

Obstructions prevent normal emptying of digested food contents through the intestines. Blockages may stem from ingesting non-food items, tumors, or constipation from other illnesses.

Undigested or partially digested material accumulates behind the clog and causes vomiting as the stomach tries unsuccessfully to empty. Surgical removal of blockages restores healthy digestion.

Liver Or Kidney Disease

Failing liver or kidney function means the body cannot properly process nutrients. The resulting biochemical imbalances impair digestion at the stomach and intestinal levels.

Vomiting undigested food is a common symptom of severe organ disease. Underlying causes require veterinary diagnosis and may necessitate treatment or lifestyle adjustments.

What Parasites Could Be Causing Throwing Up Of Cat Food?

Parasitic infections represent another potential reason for regurgitation in cats. Various internal worms prey on digestive organs and disrupt normal function. Regular deworming protects cats, but infestations may still occur.

Identifying parasites involves microscopic exam of fresh stool samples. Antiparasitic drugs or preventatives effectively clear infections allowing pets to return to healthy eating and digestion. Ongoing diarrhea or vomiting despite deworming warrants rechecking for persistent parasites.


Roundworms living in the intestines or migrating through tissues cause malabsorption issues. Their presence irritates the gut, competing for nutrients.

Vomiting undigested food stems from intestinal inflammation and reduced ability to fully break down meals. Regular deworming at kitten/early stages protects against later roundworm regurgitation issues.


Hookworm larvae and adult parasites attach to the intestinal wall to feed on blood. This blood loss anemia contributes to vomiting through overall weakness.

Their piercing mouthparts damage intestinal tissues, disturbing the enzymes and cellular lining needed for healthy digestion. Repeated hookworm infections risk long term issues like weight loss in growing kittens.


An infestation by these long segmented worms means cats are ingesting infected fleas or prey. Tapeworm segments and eggs irritate the intestinal tract.

Vomiting helps expel irritants, bringing up undigested food material along with occasional visible tapeworm pieces. Flea prevention and avoiding rodents helps stop the tapeworm life cycle.

Coccidia Or Giardia

These common intestinal parasites attach within the digestive lining to feed. Their attachment causes damage disrupting barrier function and absorption capacity.

Vomiting food results from irritated intestines struggling to properly break down and absorb nutrients. Antiprotozoal drugs address the parasitic infection allowing recovery of healthy digestion.

Medical Reasons For Throwing Up Undigested Cat Food?

Seeing a vet is important if diet changes do not stop vomiting. Medical problems impacting digestion require identification and treatment. Understanding potential issues helps cat owners know when to seek professional help. Continued regurgitation suggests an underlying condition troubles the digestive system.

Some common reasons involve digestive organs like the stomach or intestines. Others include diseases of the pancreas, liver and kidneys. Parasitic infections also disturb the intestinal environment contributing to vomiting. A vet examines each case to form a diagnosis and plan for addressing the specific cause.

Digestive System Problems

Conditions like colitis or gastritis cause continuous stomach or intestinal inflammation. Special diets or medication heal inflamed tissues allowing nutrition to benefit from full digestion once more. Surgery may aid obstructions blocking the gastrointestinal tract.

Fast diagnosis saves cats from further issues. With healing, proper food breakdown reduces throwing up undigested mouthfuls. Careful monitoring supports recovery through continued care and addressing any related stressors.


This painful inflammation disrupts pancreatic enzymes essential to breaking down proteins, carbs and fats. Insufficient enzymes leave food only partially digested in the stomach.

Vets test blood and treat underlying causes to calm inflamed pancreatic tissues. Subsequent special diet changes aid the organ’s recovery and prevent recurrence. With guided transition, regurgitating undigested pieces becomes less common.

Intestinal Blockage Or Foreign Object

Obstructions prohibiting food’s exit from the intestines cause vomiting as digestion halts. Stool tests and abdominal x-rays determine the clog’s position and nature before veterinary removal.

Relieving blockages prevents ongoing damage and permits healthy digestion to resume. Careful monitoring of eating and elimination post-op ensures complete healing without recurrence of regurgitation.

Liver Or Kidney Disease

Blood tests reveal failing organ function associated with vomiting and other signs. Fluid therapy hydrates patients with worsening nausea or loss of appetite. Diet changes or medication address biochemical imbalances impacting the entire body.

Catching disease early through vet exams improves quality of life throughout treatment. With tailored care and monitoring, owners help their cats manage long-term conditions comfortably at home.

What Parasites Could Be Causing Throwing Up Of Cat Food?

Several intestinal worms threaten digestive health and nutrient absorption if left untreated. Regular deworming provides protection through all life stages. But infestations sometimes still develop requiring identification and expulsion of invasive parasites.


These common worms living internally cause malnourishment from competition for nutrients. Fecal checks identify eggs to properly treat ongoing irritation throughout the intestines. Repeat treatments clear any remaining or new infections.


Anemia occurs from blood loss due to hookworms’ piercing mouths attached along the intestinal wall. Stool screens identify eggs and larvae for deworming. Awareness prevents susceptibility in outdoor cats exposed through infected soil.


Periods of infestation involve ingesting infected fleas or prey carrying embryonic tapeworm cysts. Deworming expels adult worms shed in stool, while flea control stops reinfection through flea bites. Cleaning litterboxes removes eggs from contaminating the environment.

Coccidia Or Giardia

These protozoa adhere within the intestinal lining, causing irritation and reduced nutrient absorption. Fecal floats reveal cysts and trophozoites for specific treatment. Sanitation supports recovery and prevents recurring diarrhea or vomiting.

Weight Loss

Inability to digest sufficient nutrients results in worrying weight decline. Weight checks alert vets to provide nutritional support through dietary changes, medication or other interventions like subcutaneous fluids as needed.


Energy levels fall in cats struggling to obtain or utilize calories from food. Lethargy relates to worse digestive health requiring therapy guided by physical exams and lab work. Extra rest aids recovery.


Frequent vomiting without fluid replacement through meals or oral rehydration dehydrates the body. Skin tenting, sunken eyes and prolonged thirst indicate fluid loss needing subcutaneous or IV fluids from a vet.

Blood In Vomit

Spotting traces warns of potential bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract. Further vomiting or tarry stool requires prompt attention to diagnose and treat any serious condition.

Persistent Vomiting

Recurring regurgitation beyond isolated incidents signals an ongoing problem within the gastrointestinal system. Failure to settle with diet or homecare warrants vet consultation for additional testing, diagnosis and management.

Frequently Asked Question

My Cat Occasionally Coughs Up Furballs, Is That The Same As Throwing Up Undigested Food?

No, coughing up furballs is normal self-grooming behavior and not a sign of digestion issues. Undigested food vomit will contain recognizable pieces of dry or wet cat food.

What Color Should Vomited Material Be?

Vomit containing fully digested food will be a liquidy yellow or green color from stomach bile. Undigested vomit has identifiable food chunks and a more solid consistency.

How Long Should I Wait Before Taking My Cat To The Vet For Vomiting?

Isolated instances can be watched, but see a vet if vomiting persists over 24 hours despite withholding food, or if accompanied by lethargy, diarrhea or other signs of illness.

Are There Any Foods I Can Give My Cat For An Upset Stomach?

Boil chicken or pumpkin puree are gentle bland foods cats may keep down. But see a vet, as some causes like obstruction risk dehydration needing medical treatment.

What Steps Can I Take At Home Before A Vet Visit For Vomiting?

Withhold food for several hours, then offer small amounts of water or ice. Note what was eaten prior. Try a bland diet. Call the vet promptly if symptoms don’t improve within a day.


If your cat is vomiting undigested food, it is important to determine the underlying cause. Simple dietary changes may help in cases of eating too fast or allergies. However, medical issues could be involved as well. Watch for signs of illness and consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Paying attention to how and what your cat eats can provide clues for why undigested food is being thrown up. With the veterinarian’s help, identifying issues impacting digestion will allow tailoring an appropriate care plan for your pet’s needs. Monitoring their health and keeping follow up appointments ensures the best outcome for your furry friend.

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Is your cat vomiting undigested food? Find out why and what you can do to help. Common causes, symptoms, and when to see a vet about a cat throwing up undigested kibble or wet food.

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