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Older cat with vomiting and white nose.

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic short haire
Age: 11-15 years
My cat is a 13y.o., outdoor (day) / indoor (night), mouser/birder, and has been a habitual fast-eater / vomiter for years, but for the past 6mths he has been vomiting white foam, and other non-foamy white liquid, and sometimes a heavy, clear mucous. These vomits happen mostly after eating, though sometimes not.
He has been lethargic, quiet, hiding, and appears to have lost quite some weight. He now has a lower appetite, and seems to drink a lot more. Oh, and his usually pink nose if often white now.
He has been under stress for 3yrs as we had our first child, though they get along fine, but the toddler's noise scares the cat. We have a second cat, and both cats get along in a cool but not friendly way. Their 'play' seems to always be dominance related, and not fun, with hissing and fur flying.
Any ideas on the vomiting?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your question. I'm concerned by what you have written.

My biggest concern is the fact that his nose is white. This can mean a severe anemia. If a cat is low on red blood cells it can cause the gums and the nose to look pale like this.

If I combine the symptoms of vomiting, lethargy and weight loss in an older cat there are a few things that can cause these symptoms.

My first concern is for kidney disease. When cats are quite far advanced into kidney disease then they can definitely be anemic.

Another possibility is hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss and vomiting, but usually cats with hyperthyroidism will still be eating. Is Stu still eating?

Unfortunately there are some cancers that can cause these symptoms as well.

Another thing that could cause these symptoms is a blood parasite called hemobartonella. This parasite is carried by fleas. However, this is not very common in older cats.

I would highly advise having some tests done on your cat. If this were my case I would definitely be recommending some blood tests which hopefully would tell us what is going on.

Some of these conditions are treatable, but I think when an older cat has these symptoms we have to be concerned.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Does the foam type vomit mean anything specific? Or is that a normal cat vomit? He also eats grass often these days: do they do that to make themselves sick, or is that a myth?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

The color or type of vomit doesn't usually tell us too much (unless it is coffee grounds color in which case we are concerned about a stomach ulcer.) Foamy vomit doesn't really indicate anything.

I do believe that some cats will eat grass when they feel nauseous because they know that it will make them vomit and then hopefully they will feel better afterward. However, there are some cats who just like to eat grass!



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.