Kitten vomiting is not rare with most cats vomiting occasionally. Some adults will vomit 2x to 3x a week without appearing to be sick. Cats tend to vomit more than other pets. It can even be at will and for no clear reason. It is even natural with an adult vomiting digested food for the kitten.
If a kitten vomits once or twice, but is otherwise acting normally, it is not an emergency. If vomiting is proceeded by retching and the vomit contains hair, then it is a hairball that can be ignored.
When It Is An Emergency
If the kitten is vomiting blood or if vomiting persists for several hiurs, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, appetite loss, a distended abdomen, or if the cat is listless, then it could be due to several conditions which require immediate attention from a veterinarian.
Symptoms can worsen in several hours.
Cases requiring emergency treatment include:
- Urinary tract obstruction (in males)
- Eating objects such as ribbon, tinsel, thread, string
- Peritonitis (inflammation of membranes in the abdominal cavity)
If the vomiting goes on for too long or if it is accompanied by diarrhea, a kitten will quickly become dehydrated, causing an electrolyte imbalance. The key sign is a kitten that starts to act lethargic. If any kitten or cat acts lethargic from vomiting or diarrhea, be sure to seek emergency help from a veterinarian.
When a kitten throws up suddenly or has a diarrhea attack, but is otherwise fine, see if you can figure out if something was eaten such as a houseplant. A similar reaction can occur when the diet was changed. It is also possible that a kitten got into a human medication that was left unguarded.
Linear objects such as ribbon or thread can also cause a kitten to vomit. These objects can be life threatening for a kitten so seek medical attention.
An allergic reaction to food not encountered before can cause a cat to vomit.
If your kitten was outdoors and then suffered from vomiting and/or diarrhea, keep the kitten indoors for a few days. This way you can observe the kitten and you can keep her away from whatever caused the problem.
Signs Before Kitting Vomiting
Before vomiting kittens may show other signs such as:
- food avoidance
- yowling from pain.
These are all symptoms of some type of intestinal irritation from something the kitten ate.
The same irritation can cause diarrhea.
A kitten vomits when the muscles contract in the abdominal wall and stomach. This creates pressure which builds up in the abdomen. Going on at the same time is a relaxing of the lower esophageal sphincter. Anything in the stomach moves up the esophagus and through the mouth. As the kitten vomits it extends the neck and sounds like it is gagging.
Video: How Cats and Kittens Appear When VomitingVideo Demonstrating How Cats and Kittens Vomit
In most cases a kitten will vomit from eating something that is shouldn't such as grass or hair. This irritates the stomach causing the kitten to vomit. Other common causes include:
- eating too fast (frequently happens from multiple kittens eat from the same pan or bowl, causing them to eat too fast.) To prevent this problem give kittens smaller meals or separate the kittens during feeding time.
- intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms)
- giardia (causes vomiting and severe diarrhea)
- coccidia (causes vomiting, blood and mucus in the stool)
Occasional to Sudden (Acute) Vomiting
This type of vomiting in kittens is caused by long roundworms which you can see in the vomit. Other worms that can cause vomiting in kittens are hookworms and tapeworms.
Symptoms in addition to vomiting are the cat possibly appearing to be potbellied or having diarrhea.
Other possible symptoms of include:
- appetite loss
- blood or mucus in stool
If hookworms are the cause, the stool will be very black and possibly streaked with blood.
Tapeworms look like small pieces of rice around the kitten's anus. They are caused by eating infected fleas.
See a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and for medication. Bring a stool sample to the veterinarian for examination.
Sudden Acute) to Sporadic Vomiting
This type of kitten vomiting is caused by something the kitten ate such as a houseplant or fabric which causes intestinal irritation. Outdoor cats might try and eat a small animal.
- Lethargy or Tiredness (in some cases)
- Diarrhea or Stools can be normal
Follow our advice for treating kitten vomiting at home. If vomiting continues for more than a day or if the kitten is lethargic (acts tired), see a veterinarian for a diagnosis. May involve medications and an x-ray to identify and to discover the location of the foreign object.
Frequent Sudden Vomiting
In this case a kitten may of eaten something that is causing a problem. This includes:
- other foreign body
The kitten may act depressed with no stool or diarrhea due to some type of blockage in the intestines. The foreign object might of caused intestinal damage.
Emergency treatment is needed. Take your kitten for emergency care which will require an x-ray and possibly surgery to remove the object.
Kitten Blood in Vomit
Blood can appear in kitten vomit as clots or flecks. It is often accompanied by dark stools. There may also be signs of weariness caused by anemia (deficiency of red blood cells).
Causes of blood in kitten vomit include:
- gastric ulcer
- gastric tumor
- gastric foreign body
- ingestion of rat poison
- ingestion of medications
See a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will conduct tests and possibly perform an endoscopy to view the intestinal tract.
A throwing up kitten may be normal if it only occurs 1x to 3x per week in cases where everything else such as appetite and weight is normal (no presence of weight loss). In this case try changing your kittens diet to see if it some of type of food reaction.
Vomiting and Lethargic Behavior with Diarrhea
If a kitten is throwing up suffers from these three symptoms, then it could be due to viral or bacterial infection. it can also be caused by IBD (inflammatory bowel disease.)
See your veterinarian for tests.
Vomiting with Fever (Panleukopenia)
Vomiting with fever in young cats could be a cane of panleukopenia (also called feline infectious enteritis or feline distemper). It is the leading cause of death in kittens.
Panleukopenia is a highly contagious virus that is contracted when in contact with other animals. Signs of illness appear 10 days after exposure and include fever (up to 105F/40.5C) apathy and appetite loss.
Kitten vomit will be frequent and appear to have a yellow color. Kittens may vomit immediately after drinking water. Stools might also be yellow or streaked with blook.
Kittens can get Panleukopenia before or right after being born. The mortality rate of this illness is 90%. Recovering kittens may suffer from brain damage and act wobbly and look uncoordinated when walking. Bacterial infections can also take hold, which can also cause the kitten to die.
Panleukopenia in kittens is diagnosed by a white blood cell test.
If you suspect Panleukopenia see a veterinarian as soon as possible since survival depends on early treatment. A veterinarian will provide fluid replacement, nutrition and antibiotics.
Home Treatment for a Vomiting Kitten
Call a veterinarian before you treat a young kitten. Witholding food, something you would do for 24 hours in a vomiting cat, can cause harm to a kitten since she may develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.)
The veterinarian will advise if is ok to reduce the amount of food so that the digestive tract can rest. Also ask about water since this is usually reduced to small drinks every few hours.
Both food and water are eventually provided at normal levels.
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Where To Next?
Identifying and Caring for a Sick Kitten
What Causes Cats and Kittens to Vomit