Recent Veterinary News

Latest posts from Dr. Marie's blog...

Why would a cat vomit foam?

One thing that is a sure bet in life is that if you have a cat, you will need to deal with cat vomit. Cats can vomit for many different reasons and unfortunately it is often difficult to know exactly why a cat is vomiting.

I often get asked what it means if a cat is vomiting white foam. My own cats do this from time to time. They will make a horrible retching and repeated gagging sound and you would think that a huge pile of vomit is about to appear and then just a string of foam spews out. Often when cats keep throwing up foam, there will be multiple piles of foam produced. And if your cats are anything like mine, those piles will be left in the most inappropriate places. My cats' favorite spots are on a rug or in the place where it is very likely to be stepped in.

What does it mean when the vomit is white?

White foamy vomit really just means that the cat's stomach was empty when he or she vomited. However, we can't draw any conclusions about the cause of the vomiting. It could be anything from just mild stomach upset to a hairball (even if there is no hairball in the vomit), to a foreign object in the stomach, to kidney or liver failure, or a number of other conditions.

When to go to the vet?

If your cat or kitten is vomiting foam should you see the vet? Here are a few pointers to help you make that decision:

  • How is the cat's appetite? If the cat doesn't want to eat then this is a sign that something is not right. If a cat goes for more than 24 hours without eating they can be at risk for a serious condition called fatty liver.
  • How frequent is the vomiting? If the cat vomits a few times in a single day I am not worried, but if he or she is vomiting several times an hour, all day long then this is more of a concern.
  • Is there an increase in thirst? Vomiting combined with a dramatic increase in thirst can be a sign of kidney toxicity. If you are concerned about this then I would recommend a vet visit right away.
  • Is he urinating ok? If a cat, especially a male cat, is vomiting AND having difficulties urinating, this can be a sign of a serious urinary tract blockage. This is an urgent situation and requires immediate veterinary care.
  • What does your gut say? No one knows your cat better than you. If you feel that something is wrong, then it's better to be safe than sorry and see the vet.

Search Ask A Vet Question:

ask a vet

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.