sick cat get intravenous fluids

If Your Cat's Throwing Up White Foam, These May Be Reasons Why


Sometimes, cats get sick. But it's important to know the warning signs just in case something serious is happening.

A cat throwing up white foam can be an alarming sight for a pet owner, but think of it as a warning sign that something is not quite right with your cat.  In fact, foam coming up is a cat's physical response to some form of irritation. However, it can be serious and is not something you can try to diagnose at home. It may require a vet visit to determine why this GI irritation is happening.

With that in mind, sometimes your cat will vomit, but it's not normal for them to see chronic vomiting, especially over extended periods of time. Some hair will inevitably end up in your cat's stomach when they groom themselves, but if too much collects there, their stomach will become inflamed. There are a number of potential causes that your veterinarian could explore, so it's important to know what to expect based on your cat's behavior in the days leading up. Here are five potential answers your vet may explore. Also, when you're taking notes about the consistency of your cat's vomit for your vet, be sure to differentiate between white foam, white liquid, and white mucus, as these different small signs can help them better identify the issues quickly and begin appropriate treatment.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up White Foam?

Cat undergoes care from veterinarian.

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1. Indigestion

Your cat can sometimes eat too fast, overeat or run off too quickly after a meal. It's very possible your cat will run away from its bowl if they don't feel comfortable or safe where their food bowls are located.

Multiple cats need more than one bowl. Some cats don't want to be bullied while eating!

2. Obstruction in the GI tract

Cats have a habit of swallowing hairs, resulting in hairball problems that causes them to throw up white foam. Some of the symptoms include constipation, reduced appetite, and GI obstruction. Grooming is a natural part of every cat's daily life, so while this is hard to monitor, keep this in mind as a potential cause for their stomach issues.

Swallowing foreign objects can back up the gastrointestinal tract, so watch for lack of appetite in addition to any odd behavior like vomiting; stomach inflammation as your cat's body reacts to a blockage may require x-rays and additional veterinary attention to judge the problem.


3. Excess Eating

If your cat is young and she does not know when to stop eating her kibble, vomiting up white foam is the best way for her to relieve herself; Don't worry if this is the case.

However, with all kittens, and even some adult cats, if this vomiting persists or if you witness "speed" eating, then you'll need to use a puzzle toy to slow her down as their cat food could cause a blockage in their esophagus or digestive system.

4. Pancreatitis

This is a true emergency and is typically accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea. You usually hear about this condition around the holidays as it can happen when your cat is fed table scraps. It can also be prevalent with other diseases, such as gastrointestinal disease, liver disease, and diabetes.

5. Parasites 

Some younger kittens haven't been dewormed when you bring them home. The combination of diarrhea and vomit consisting of white foam could be the result of a parasitic infection, which is a serious problem. Your vet will need to check a stool sample.


If you notice your cat's vomiting lasting more than 24 hours, you need to make an appointment to see your vet. Also, a cat having diarrhea and vomiting at the same time is an emergency. Don't hesitate to get your cat in their carrier and head to the emergency vet if you suspect breathing difficulties.

Always watch out for weight loss, loss of appetite, undigested food, lethargic behavior, gagging, stomach upset, and overeating, as these are all common reasons for vomiting foam. Cat owners should contact their vet if they think their cat is vomiting frequently. Gastritis, an inflammatory bowel disease, is a potential cause of cat vomiting and can be very serious.

Oftentimes, small meals and larger kibble might be the answer, rather than an underlying cause, and your vet will advise you on how to prevent this from happening in the future.

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This article was originally published on December 23, 2019.

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