Regurgitation in Cats

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a huge cat lover. I put up with a lot from these furry four-legged purr machines, but the one thing that drives me crazy is the frequent up-chucking. Yuck. I think almost every one of my cats has puked at one time or another. And I’ve had a lot of cats. One time, I had 14, mostly kittens from a failed attempt at breeding polydactyls (extra toes), but we won’t get into that.

Anyway, apparently a cat’s digestive tract is susceptible to regurgitation – evacuating the stomach quickly after consumption. Cat’s also frequently cough up hairballs, but I’m talking about that disgusting process of scarfing down their food and then promptly vomiting it back up, usually on or under the furniture. I think they really enjoy finding the most difficult locations to puke up their dinner, but I digress. Over the years I’ve found out that some degree of regurgitation is actually a normal, albeit annoying, action in cats. It’s most likely to protect them from ingesting poison or spoiled food.

Some cats, I’ve noticed, are more ‘delicate’ than others. Right now I have three cats and while they all seem to enjoy the occasional regurgitation session, only one does it after practically every single meal. It seems to have gotten worse as he gets older.

What to do

Unfortunately, since regurgitating food is a normal practice in cats, there really isn’t too much to do, but I have found a few semi-successful methods. But I should clarify something first.

There’s a condition known as megaesophagus that causes cats to regurgitate very shortly after meals.

There’s a type of nerve damage where the food sits in the esophagus, the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach, until the cat pukes it up. This can be a very serious condition because the cat can be prevented from getting the nutrition it needs. If this is suspected, the kitty should be taken to the vet for testing. I’ve read that treatment can include medications or feeding a liquid, high-nutrition diet, sometimes elevating the food so the cat has to stand up, allowing the food to drain easily into the stomach. That said, I don’t believe any of my cats have this condition because they’ve all been to the vet over the years and have had tons blood tests.

So, to help with my cats regurgitation, I feed all of them smaller meals several times a day. I used to give them a large meal in the morning and then again at night, but that makes them gulp the food since they’re hungry. So, if it’s manageable, feed breakfast, lunch, and dinner in smaller portions. I’ve had some success with this, although there is still some regurgitation going on. For some reason, if I give the cats, especially Mr. Sensitive, wet canned food and then dry kibble, he’ll throw up right away. If he gets just a small portion of wet food, he’s mostly okay. So, I now use kibble as a sort of snack, in between the wet food meals. This also keeps the cats with something in their bellies so they won’t gulp their food quite as fast at each meal.

Sometimes it’s trial and error to find a food that’s right for your cat, especially if they do have some sort of dietary need. I’ve used probably every brand imaginable, but settled on a grocery store brand with gravy. My cats don’t like the paté varieties. Even though it’s just a grocery store brand, my cats do very well on it. I’ve tried them on the expensive pet store brands and even the special brands available only through a vet, but the most palatable and one of the cheapest (which is also important to me since I have three cats) also appears to produce the least amount of regurgitation. Maybe I’m just lucky, but so far so good.


Like I just said above, regurgitation can be caused by a disease, especially if it happens more than a couple times a month. If that cat has a problem like mesoesophagus, it will likely start losing weight, the coat will lose its shine, etc., so watching your cat carefully will give you some indication of its health.

Other than a condition like megaesophagus, occasional regurgitation is normal and can actually be beneficial to get rid of toxins. I think most pet owners know their pets well enough to know when there’s something wrong. I know I do. I can tell by my pet’s expression or how they act whether or not they’re sick.

Thankfully all of my babies are well, but regardless, I still have to race for the paper towels once in a while. But it’s a task I’m willing to do for the companionship and love of my kitties.

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3 Responses

  1. Dena Harris
    | Reply

    Excessive throwing up can also be a sign up hyperthyroidism. Our cat Lucy was just diagnosed and it was the constant barfing that tipped us off.

  2. CB
    | Reply

    My cat had been regurgitating her dry and wet food three to four times a week for most of the past year. Her vet said my cat’s health was good and she was still maintaining her weight. The vet suggested that I give my cat a very small dosage of Pepcid. I didn’t want to do that and Googled for anyone having the same problem and arriving at a different solution. What I found and tried, AND it worked is the following: a few cat owners indicated that when they fed their cats dry or wet food that didn’t have corn or wheat gluten in it nor meat by-products, their cats no longer regurgitated their food. I have been feeding my cat such foods for the past six weeks, and she has not regurgitated once during that time. Furthermore, she is now loving her meals, and comes running when served.

    Give this a try, and I hope it works!

  3. Maria Arroyave
    | Reply

    My cat Floyd regurgitates at least 6 out of 10 of his meals. The vet had me change his diet from Fancy Feast to Innova (expensive!). This has helped a little. After regurgitating, he wants more food and I give him a little more. He hardly ever regurgitates the second time. He doesn’t show any other symptoms of bad health, although he does appear a little on the thin side. I p0robaby should take him to the vet again, but when I took him the first time, I ended up with a bill close to $100 for the vet just to feel him and recommend a change in diet. He mentioned something about irritable bowel syndrome, but did not say anything more about this. Floyd doesn’t seem too bothered by regurgitating his food, but it worried me and I feel bad for him. He does enjoy eating and does not appear at all nauseated.

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