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Cat Vomit Color Chart: Identifying the Meaning of Different Colors

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats sometimes throw up. It’s simply a fact of life. Usually, you’d just clean it up and move on with your day, but the truth is you should be checking what color your cat’s vomit is. It’s gross, we know. But the color of your pet’s vomit could be telling you something important about their health.

If you’ve never paid close attention to the color of your cat’s vomit before, you should know what color it could be and what each means. Below is a handy cat vomit color chart that will tell you just that. With this information, you’ll be able to tell when you have a feline emergency on your hands or if your cat only has an upset stomach but is ultimately fine. Keep reading!

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Importance of Checking the Color of Cat Vomit

Your cat throwing up every once in a while likely isn’t a huge deal. But vomiting can be a sign that your pet is suffering from a severe illness or chronic condition you aren’t aware of—illnesses that could include:

  • Viral infections
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Parasites
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Neurological disorders
  • Obstruction in the bowel

Checking the color of your cat’s vomit can help determine if something serious is going on, as can the frequency of your cat’s vomiting (felines shouldn’t be throwing up each day, for example, so that’s absolutely a sign that something is amiss!) and other symptoms. And if something is wrong, you’ll likely see other signs too, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or weight loss.

If you’re regularly checking the color of your cat’s vomit and looking for the other signs that your pet could have an illness, you’ll be able to get them to the vet more quickly—and a quicker vet visit means a better chance of your favorite feline pal getting well.

Cat Vomit Color Chart

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock
Vomit Color Meaning
Clear vomit Clear vomit is your pet throwing up water, usually because they drank too much. And while that doesn’t seem like a big deal, there are underlying conditions such as diabetes that can make your pet thirstier than usual. So, a vet visit wouldn’t hurt if this continues.
White foam White foam means the lining of the small intestines or stomach is inflamed and irritated but there is nothing in the stomach to vomit. Monitor for other signs of illness.
Yellow vomit Yellow cat vomit indicates bile, which occurs when your pet has an empty stomach. Yellow vomit shouldn’t be too concerning unless your pet is also acting off in other ways.
Blood in vomit Blood in cat vomit can be an indication that there is either an ulceration in the body or a clotting abnormality (caused by toxins or illness). Or, if your cat has vomited repeatedly, the blood could be from an irritated esophagus or stomach. This kind of vomit means a vet visit is in order.
Green vomit Green cat vomit is usually this color because it is mixed with bile (common if your pet throws up on an empty stomach). Another reason could be that your cat consumed plant material. This shouldn’t be concerning unless your pet is exhibiting signs of illness.
Brown vomit Most likely, brown cat vomit is the color it is because your cat’s food is brown and it ate too fast. However, it could also indicate traces of blood (especially if it looks similar to coffee grounds and is a darker brown). If you believe blood is in your cat’s vomit, take it to the vet.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Cat parents tend to have plenty of questions about their pets throwing up. Here are just a few.

How Are Acute and Chronic Vomiting Different?

These two words indicate the onset and duration of vomiting. Acute vomiting is the type that comes on suddenly and usually only for a day or two. Chronic vomiting is that which occurs over an ongoing time frame, maybe daily or every few days. Both types of vomiting can be cause for concern, especially if it usually comes with other symptoms such as lethargy or appetite loss and can indicate an illness or disease.

bengal cat and vet
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

Should I See My Vet if My Cat Vomits?

If you think you see blood in your cat’s vomit or your cat is seeming to be in pain or otherwise unwell you should call your veterinary surgery for advice and an appointment. Likewise, if your cat throws up several times in a day or once a day for multiple days, you should talk to your vet. Other reasons to see your vet when your cat vomits include your cat having other symptoms of being sick, being on medications, or your pet having already been diagnosed with an illness such as diabetes.

How Will My Vet Treat My Cat’s Vomiting?

How your pet’s vomiting is treated depends greatly on the underlying causes. If it’s something like diabetes or IBD that’s causing your cat to throw up, then medication will be key. But if it’s something with your cat’s food making them vomit, it would require switching to a different kind of food. Some patients just need bland food and time, others will need blood tests, fluids, and imaging diagnostics.

What’s the Difference Between Vomit and a Hairball?

Hairballs and vomit are two entirely different things; your biggest clue you’re looking at a hairball will be by the shape. Hairballs tend to be long and thin (sort of a cigar shape). While some bile may be hacked up with a hairball, most of what’s on your floor will be hair with some food. Vomit, on the other hand, might have a bit of hair in it but will be made up mostly of fluids.

What Should I Do to Help My Cat When It’s Vomiting?

cat is being checked by a vet
Image Credit: Maria Sbytova, Shutterstock

The best thing you can do for your cat if it’s throwing up is to take note of other symptoms and severity and take it to the vet if needed. It’s unfortunate, but there’s not much that can be done to help your kitty at home when it comes to vomiting, as there aren’t really medications you can give it. One thing you can do is to not give your pet food or water for several hours after it throws up.

But you can do a few things to help prevent your pet from throwing up in the first place.

  • Try to slow your cat’s eating, as eating too quickly can result in vomit.
  • Keep poisonous items far away from your pet (and keep in mind some things could be toxic to the cat that you wouldn’t suspect, such as certain plants or foods).
  • Keep up with regular deworming and vaccinations.

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Final Thoughts

It’s never fun when your feline friend is throwing up, but by knowing what the color of your pet’s vomit means, you can determine whether something is seriously wrong or if the vomiting is a fluke. Other things to watch out for when your cat is vomiting are how often it’s vomited and whether any other symptoms of illness are present, such as loss of appetite or lethargy. If you feel like something is wrong with your cat, you’ll want to visit your vet for testing and treatment. You can also try to prevent your pet from throwing up by ensuring their food isn’t upsetting their stomach and they aren’t eating too quickly.

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Featured Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

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