Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Jenny
Cat vomit can be a number of different colors, depending on what the cause is. However, it can also vary depending on what your cat has eaten (and that’s not just food, but anything else they’ve swallowed too), as well as any dyes in the foods that they have eaten, and various other factors.
So, you can’t tell exactly what is wrong with a cat just from the color of their vomit. Yet, there are some potential causes of clear cat vomit, some of which may not be serious at all, but some that could be.
If your cat vomits clear liquid as a one-off, it may that they have drunk too much water, or they could be vomiting digestive fluid due to a hairball or potentially something more serious. Frequent vomiting should always be a cause for concern.
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Remember that I am an experienced cat owner, but I am not a veterinarian! So, while you can use this article to learn more about some of the causes of clear cat vomit, you must always get your cat checked out if you aren’t absolutely sure they are fine.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cat vomiting is never normal, and should be considered an emergency if your cat experiences “sudden and severe” bouts, where you should seek immediate medical care.
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Why is my cat throwing up clear liquid?
Clear cat vomit could simply be water, or may be the gastric juice from within the cat’s stomach.
First, consider if your cat is drinking too much water. If a cat is drinking too much water, it could be returning as vomit. Cats drinking too much water may have a medical condition, like diabetes or kidney disease, that’s causing them to feel too thirsty. As you book a visit to the vet, take some time to monitor your cat’s water intake.
Vomiting white foam or stomach juices, can also be caused by a hairball or by a parasite. Some tumors can also cause this kind of vomiting, so a veterinarian appointment is important.
When should I be concerned about my cat vomiting?
If your cat is vomiting, the first step is to monitor their current behavior. How often are they vomiting? How are they behaving at other times?
Something as simple as a hairball can lead to cat vomiting, and on its own isn’t a concern, but more frequent vomiting might be a sign of a more serious medical problem.
If your cat vomits more than once per day, or for several days in a row, book an appointment with your regular veterinarian to put your mind at ease. Chronic vomiting is a serious sign of illness. If vomiting is new, or it’s happening more than before, then you should get your pet checked out.
Look at your cat’s vomit for clues about their health. If the vomit is clear, then it might just be water. If it includes yellow bile, red blood, mucus or undigested food, then this is important information to share with your vet.
Get your cat checked by a vet if their vomiting is accompanied by unusual behavior, if it’s happening more than twice a week or if your cat is showing other signs of poor health like weight loss, excessive thirst or being more tired than usual.
Is a cat throwing up an emergency?
First, identify if your cat is actually vomiting. A quick action with no build-up is usually regurgitation. This is less likely to be a medical emergency, though if it’s happening a lot then it’s still worth booking an appointment.
Regurgitation usually involves things from your cat’s throat or mouth, instead of things that have already reached the stomach.
When a cat vomits, the action is slower and takes longer. Food makes its way back from the stomach in a process that might take several minutes. There may be more noise when a cat is vomiting, and your cat might look unwell. You’ll still have time to monitor your cat without rushing it straight to the veterinarian, but book an appointment if your cat vomits more than once or twice, or if the vomit itself shows concerning signs.
What does the color of cat vomit mean?
The color of your cat’s vomit may be affected by what they’ve eaten, but it can also be a sign of what might be wrong with your cat.
Red or Pink
Cat vomit that is red or pink might contain fresh blood. If your cat is vomiting blood this should be considered a medical concern, even though it may ultimately be a minor injury. Of course, some cat food can also lead to red or pink vomit.
Brown or Yellow
Cat vomit that is yellow or brown may indicate the presence of bile. Bile can indicate an empty stomach, if your cat has already cleared its stomach or if it hasn’t been eating.
Clear cat vomit may simply be water, but could also be stomach juices. A good first step is to monitor your cat’s eating and drinking habits. If your cat is drinking more than usual, or isn’t eating much, then you should seek medical attention.
Black vomit, especially with lumps, can be a serious sign of blood from the stomach. Often, this blood is dry or lumpy because it’s older blood, rather than fresh blood that might be caused by a minor injury within the throat or mouth. Seek immediate veterinary help.
Green vomit may be caused by the presence of bile (see Brown or Yellow), but more often is a sign that your cat has been eating grass or other plant material. In some cases, grass can be coated with chemicals that may be harmful to cats.
Can cats throw up from stress?
Stress can cause a cat to vomit. Usually, vomiting is not the only sign that a cat is feeling stressed or anxious.
Other indicators of cat stress include increased grooming, which might cause fur to fall out, and a cat that is hiding more often. Cats might also have diarrhea, stop eating or stop using their litterbox. Another sign of stress in cats is an increase in kitty aggression. If your cat starts swiping or hissing more, they could be feeling stressed and fearful.
How do I know if my cat has been poisoned?
A cat that has been poisoned will probably vomit at least once. However, poison can quickly cause a cat to deteriorate and stop responding. Cats, being small, can be badly affected by just a small amount of something toxic. Outdoor cats can come into contact with many different things on their adventures.
Signs that a cat has been poisoned including twitching and unusual muscle movements, breathing problems, vomiting and diarrhea. Cats might collapse if they’ve been exposed to large amounts of poison.
Rat and slug poisons are a common cause of concern for cat owners, but many other things can also poison cats when they’re exploring. These include pesticides and weed killers, antifreeze, cleaning products and paints. Some plants and flowers are harmful to cats, including daffodils, tulips and lilies. Essential oils can also poison your cat.
Look out for common household objects that may be harmful to your pet. Snowglobes contain antifreeze. Paracetamol pills are harmful even in the very smallest of doses. Chocolate is poisonous, and so are grapes, onions and raisins.
Some items that are safe for humans can be fatal for cats in small amounts, so if you notice signs of poisoning it helps to be aware where your cat has been and what they might have touched.
How do cats act when they’re sick?
A sick cat will usually show you that they’re not in their best condition. Look out for vomiting or increased salivation, as indications that something might be wrong inside your kitty’s little body. Other signs can include unusual muscle movements or twitching, loss of fur or discharge from your cat’s eyes or nose.
A sick cat might show signs of breathing trouble or might have appetite changes. They may eat or drink a lot less (or more) than is typical, especially if they have food poisoning.
Look out for behavioral changes, as well as physical clues. If your cat starts hiding more, stops using their litterbox or seems more aggressive than usual, these are other signs that your cat might be feeling unwell.
In terms of the colors of vomit, clear liquid is considered one of the safer types, but that doesn’t mean you should treat it too lightly. It’s not usually a sign of something majorly wrong as long as the vomiting is not frequent, but you do need to monitor your cat for any other symptoms.
You need to verify what caused your cat to be sick. Have they eaten anything out of the ordinary, been exposed to other animals that may have carried a virus with them, or have they any cause to be stressed or anxious?
If you don’t feel that you need to rush your cat straight to the emergency veterinarian, you should monitor them over the next day or two to see how much they’re eating and drinking. If your cat continues to vomit, is drinking much more or isn’t showing interest in food, medical attention should then be sought quickly.
If you can’t identify the reason, or if you’re concerned about your cat in any way, then get them checked by your veterinarian. It’s always better to be safe. And if they continue to vomit consistently over a few hours, definitely get them looked over as soon as possible, using an emergency vet if you need to get an appointment fast.