9 Reasons Why My Cat Can’t Keep Food Down

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9 Reasons Why My Cat Can't Keep Food Down - SweetieKitty

Last updated: January 16, 2020

What goes in must stay in, right? That’s a no-brainer, you’d say, and you’d be right, yes? Well – yes, most of the time, but these are cats we’re talking about, and they don’t always do what they’re supposed to.  (In fact, they don’t do it most of the time!) But why should cats vomit constantly? Are they just being little brats and trying to get your attention? Of course not! They’re trying to tell you something much more serious. They’re not being awkward – they’re being sick! Read on to find out why my cat can’t keep food down, and is vomiting constantly.

Foreign Bodies


If your cat vomits once and then normal duties are resumed, you can rest assured it’s nothing serious. Your cat is a clean and fastidious little chap who always wants to look his best, so he is constantly grooming himself to make sure that every hair on his svelte pelt is just so. Not a hair out of place in fact. An unfortunate side effect of this is hairballs, little concentrated balls of spare fur that are usually passed during defecation. They can also be vomited out but occasionally they can get stuck and cause constipation and other life-threatening side-effects. If you see your cat retching, trying to vomit but bringing nothing up, then chances are he’s got a hairball or two.

Little Things

Watch out for that skein of wool, catnip mouse, ball or any other small thing that can get down his throat but has difficulty getting out again! Mine loves to play with bottle tops if I accidentally drop one on the floor, and it’s just the right size to be swallowed whole and cause a problem.

Be very careful if your kids play with marbles! These can cause really severe problems if your cat can’t vomit them out.

All of these can cause serious blockages and can be life-threatening. Most of the time your moggy can deal with them himself, but it’s best to see SuperVet if you’re in doubt!


You know what a fussy little critter your cat can be, so don’t even THINK about changing his kibble from Acme Premium Kibble for the Discerning Cat to El Cheapo Kibble which was on a half-price special. He may sniff it and turn away (if you’re lucky!) or he may eat some and let his stomach do the rest, and have fun cleaning that off the carpet!

9 Reasons Why My Cat Can't Keep Food Down - Sick Cat - SweetieKittyFood Intolerance

Food intolerance means that your cat can’t absorb or use the food he’s eating, so there is no nutritional value at all in it. There are a lot of symptoms for this condition, so as well as frequent puking, look out for flatulence, diarrhea, lack of appetite and a general “poor-me” look. There may also be a lot of scratching and weight loss. Poor kitty. Straight to the vet, please!


When your cat eats grass, it’s not because it’s slowly morphing into a cow, but because he needs it for his digestion. Cats can’t digest grass very well, so it acts as an emetic, and when vomited out it brings with it hairballs, internal parasites and, if your cat is a hunter like mine, even bones and feathers! Grass acts as roughage and helps moggy pass regular bowel movements too, as well as giving him an excellent source of folic acid, which helps increase blood oxygen. If he’s eating too much and vomiting too often, however, it may mean a vitamin deficiency, so you may need to see – you guessed it – the vet!


There are TRILLIONS of pesky little viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites just waiting to colonize your cat’s tummy, and any or all of them could be responsible for poor kitty’s pitiable state.  

Bacterial infection

Campylobacter is a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause vomiting, fever and diarrhea that can last for months. It is transmitted by being exposed to the feces of other infected cats or by contaminated food and water.  

Salmonella – well, this particular disease is a really nasty piece of work – take it from one who’s had it, since it can also be passed onto humans! As well as vomiting, other common symptoms are fever,  lethargy, diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration, a fast heart rate and skin disease. It can even lead to blood poisoning, so beware! Vet-wards you go!

Gastroenteritis is a general name for an inflamed stomach and intestines. It can refer to anything and everything, whether it be bacteria, viruses, parasites, or reactions to medications or new foods. It often involves abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhea and vomiting, so if any of these is happening to your moggy – don’t hesitate! (You know what’s coming, don’t you?) VET!!!


Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and all sorts of sneaky one-celled things are a real problem in cats, but can be prevented if some basic rules of hygiene are followed. The litter box must be cleaned regularly with a mild bleach solution, and it must not be used by too many cats. Don’t give kitty raw meat (no matter how much he loves it!) and try to get rid of rodents, ticks and fleas, which give the little pests a home from home while they’re waiting to settle down on your little moggy!

9 Reasons Why My Cat Can't Keep Food Down - Tired Cat - SweetieKittyKidney Disease

Cats are particularly prone to kidney disease. In fact, over 30% of all cats will suffer from it at some time in their life. It is mainly a disease of old age, however, and its symptoms, apart from vomiting, are increased thirst, loss of weight, frequent urination and decreased appetite. This is a chronic and irreversible condition, although, with correct treatment, medication and care, moggy can still live to be a charming little aristocrat for years to come!


The side effects from certain medications, such as those for anxiety in cats, can result in vomiting, diarrhea and seizures, as well as neurological difficulties. There may be addiction problems with certain drugs, and side-effects from two drugs counteracting each other. If your vet has prescribed medications that affect your cat in this way, go and see him again. After all, he’s a human, not a cat, and there’s only room for perfection in one species!

The Last Word

So if your kitty is puking copiously all over your bed, Persian rug, favorite armchair or even in the bathtub maybe it’s time you got him seen to by the guy who knows everything. There’s nothing more distressing to a cat parent than knowing their little sweetheart is sick, but as always, love is the best medicine!