Gack attack!
April 5, 2006 10:33 AM   Subscribe

How does a cat choose where to gack?

Being typical cats, mine gack up hairballs from time to time. Do they gack on the linoleum? the tile bathroom? in their litterbox? No.

They gack on the rug, not the flooring 2 inches away, on the rug. They gack in my shoe, not next to it, in it. They gack on my books, not next to them, on them--precisely aimed such that the goopy spetum slathers onto the pages so that the book expands like a Playboy found in the woods.

How can a cat undergoing such violent convulsions have the presence of mind to aim its gack?
posted by GarageWine to Pets & Animals (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Because it's your fault!
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2006


I've always heard that cats will look for somewhere safe and comfortable when in that sort of situation. Maybe the smells are comforting, or it's a safe comfy place?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2006


mine is the same way: right on the edge of the carpet, or maybe half on and half off. i'm always on the alert for the attractive pre-gack noises, so i can hustle him onto the floor.

sorry i don't have any answers...
posted by cgs at 10:47 AM on April 5, 2006


Maybe it's a confirmation bias? You don't notice/remember so strongly when it's in an inoffensive place, or someplace easy to clean.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2006


I think they want you to notice in case there is something wrong with them - maybe the gacking is unpleasant for them and they want to make sure you check it out.
posted by rainbaby at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2006


Maybe they do it to get your attention.
Maybe this is how they know it will get cleaned up faster.

Maybe they are trying to ask you for help: "Meow, please get us some hairball medication, meow! We hate gacking, meow!"
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 10:58 AM on April 5, 2006


My cats do the same thing. I think it's all because cats are total jerks.
posted by sluggo at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


Mine always make a beeline for the carpet, too. Maybe it has something to do with it being more fun to watch the ensuing fuss. Or the carpet feels more like a place where you could scrape stuff on top of the mess to hide the evidence?
posted by fish tick at 11:06 AM on April 5, 2006


They puke where they are, which is frequently on some soft, comfortable rug, not some cold, hard, but easy-to-clean surface. And a rug, unlike easy-to-clean surfaces, holds a lot of hard-to-clean hair and dust that might trigger a sudden gack gack gack gack glehhhhgh... gack gack gack gack glehhhhgh...
posted by pracowity at 11:07 AM on April 5, 2006


Chasing my wife's cats in an attempt to pick them up and move them to a 'safe surface' generally results in a vomit trail as they attempt to run away from me while puking.

Nowadays, I just plug my ears when I hear it start and hope that they're not on the couch.
posted by unixrat at 11:17 AM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


When we heard our cat doing it in the night, my family would tacitly declare an unofficial sleeping-in contest.
posted by jon_kill at 11:22 AM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


When I hear that prelude to a puke noise from one of our cats, I have to run so I can beat the dog there, or she cleans it up for me. Eeew. If it's hairballs, I suggest a hairball formula food. I have 2 long-haired cats, and since I've been feeding them Science Diet Hairball Control, they gack no more. That doesn't answer your question though. - I think sluggo was on the money with that answer.
posted by Alpenglow at 11:31 AM on April 5, 2006


My cats do this, but my dog used to do it, too (not with hairballs, of course). She would even go so far as to walk from wherever she was (often on the linoleum or other easily-cleaned surface), while doing the preliminary heaves, over to the rug.

Which is to say, I have no idea why they do this, but that it seems to be a cross-species phenomenon.
posted by CiaoMela at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2006


When I hear that prelude to a puke noise from one of our cats, I have to run so I can beat the dog there, or she cleans it up for me.

Why would you do this? Let the do eat it! Let the dog eat it!

Somehow in my household, which contains three cats, it has become my duty to clean up all cat deposits. I'm not sure how that one was decided, but my wife won't lift a finger to do it. She's more than happy to wake me from a deep sleep to have me clean up a mess, though. And our cats, too, try to target rugs and books and the like. I have one cat who will vomit on my side of the bed at least once a month, right on the sheets. I wish I had a dog to clean it up for me...

This is the Best Thread Ever.
posted by jdroth at 11:42 AM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you have the time to intervene, rather than moving the poor gacking cat just slide a piece of newspaper or something under the line of fire.
posted by Nelson at 11:46 AM on April 5, 2006


I'm pretty sure the equation for my cats is:

Location of Cat = Gack Here
posted by o2b at 11:49 AM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Mine are usually a bit kinder; they almost always head towards the bathroom where we keep their litterbox and gack on the tile floor. Poor babies.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2006


Our cat goes out of his way to do it on the carpet. Seriously. We can put him on the linoleum and he'll try his damnedest to move back to the carpet even while hacking up a lung.

Maybe it is a comfort thing.
posted by lyam at 11:52 AM on April 5, 2006


We have a bulemic cat who binges and purges. . anywhere she pleases. . usually on some croche something or other.

It's in order to make us feel how uniquely miserable her life is. We have no idea how to manage it other than to clean up the partially digested kibble wherever it lands.
posted by Danf at 11:57 AM on April 5, 2006


My cat always did it in the exact same spot--right where the hallway came from the bedrooms to exit into the living room. As this was one of the most high-traffic parts of the house, I can only assume she did it there to make sure we'd notice it.
posted by LionIndex at 12:03 PM on April 5, 2006


We have 3 cats, and one of them has more issues with throwing up hairballs than the other two (All are domestic shorthairs). Luckily, he has an early warning system. He starts making vocalizations about 15 seconds before he starts to "prime the pump," such as it is. Often it provides enough time to pick him up and scurry him in a bathroom for the main event (although he some times finds his way onto the little cheap bathroom rugs).
posted by jeversol at 12:07 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


What a hoot!

We had a cat that was into projectile vomiting. Five minutes before we were supposed to show our house the first time, she went into the living room & shot a 10 ft. trail.

The cats we have now prefer to play hide & seek - under a table, behind a sofa. You don't just clean it up. You have to find it first. I'd say there's a certain amusement factor there.
posted by clarkstonian at 12:22 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Spontaneity is the golden rule for my cat - wherever she is, she voms. I've come home to some nice vertical ones baked down the sides of radiators when she was sitting on a window ledge and just leaned over.

Though for some reason she only vomits when she sees suitcases or other large bags. I assume she's scared of being lonesome.
posted by penguin pie at 12:25 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Rugs: I think cats like to dig in to brace themselves while gacking, and can do this more easily on a rug than a hard floor.
posted by zadcat at 12:33 PM on April 5, 2006


We have rug and textile only gacking cat as well.

I can't stand it, don't know how to fix it (other than I got rid of some of our rugs because I prefer looking at the hardwood floor and now aim more closely for the hamper when throwing my clothes in), but I feel so much less alone now.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:34 PM on April 5, 2006


My apartment consists of roughy equal areas carpeted and non-carpeted floors. My cat never coughed up hairballs, but occasionally eats too fast and then coughs her cookies a few minutes later. It's only been on the carpet once. The food being in the non-carpeted area might have something to do with this.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:36 PM on April 5, 2006


My older cat has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which pretty much means daily horkage. I've managed to train him to aim for these washable cotton throw rugs that I purchased precisely for this purpose. When he was younger and first started the daily horking, I would listen for the Special Meow and then The Pump, and upon hearing those, would rush over, grab him and place him over one of the throw rugs.

I've just dropped some serious coin on having the wall-to-wall carpet pulled up and laminate flooring put down throughout the apartment. Now, it's just a quick cleanup with a damp rag. Sheer bliss!

For those areas that have to be carpeted, I've purchased carpet tiles which can be rinsed clean.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 12:56 PM on April 5, 2006


My cats will turn away if I try to slide a piece of paper or towel or anything in the path of their yarkage.

My most evil cat pukes on the bed roughly every 10 days - only on the bed, only at night, only where there are body parts underneath. When I hear her gearing up to let fly, if I put her on the floor she gets back on the bed immediately. Sometimes I just hold her out over the crappy area rug and hope she'll fire in the right direction.

We recently replaced the top sheet with duveted quilts, and I guess she was so upset about not being able to vomit all the way through to the mattress pad (via my feet) that she threw up on the dog the night before last.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:27 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


We had a cat that was into projectile vomiting. Five minutes before we were supposed to show our house the first time, she went into the living room & shot a 10 ft. trail.

It would be worth cleaning that up just to have seen such a spectacle.

One of my cats will crawl backwards as she yaks, thus spreading the vomitus as widely as possible. On the carpet of course, every single time.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:31 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is the Best Thread Ever.

Word. This needs to be side-barred.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2006


My most evil cat pukes on the bed roughly every 10 days - only on the bed, only at night, only where there are body parts underneath.

Gross cat story one-upmanship:

The way we learned that one of our cats had a urinary tract infection was that for several nights in a row, he would jump on top of the bed while we were sleeping, walk on top of me, and piss all over my chest.

You can bet we diagnosed that problem pretty darn fast...
posted by jdroth at 1:33 PM on April 5, 2006


We recently replaced the top sheet with duveted quilts, and I guess she was so upset about not being able to vomit all the way through to the mattress pad (via my feet) that she threw up on the dog the night before last.

This made me laugh until my stomach hurt.

My little cat is now developing a vomiting problem. After he throws up, there's a one- or two-second pause where he stares at the puke. Then he does that sideways, arched-back jump that cats do when started by something and runs away.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:47 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


I have the ultimate cleaning system. One cat pukes, the other one eats the puke. A win-win situation.

Of course, the loser was me when the puker hurled on my iPod. No kidding. Killed it, too.
posted by soulbarn at 3:26 PM on April 5, 2006


As a few others have said, my cat will walk from wherever he is to the only room in the house with carpet when he feels the urge to barf. Every ... single ... time. He can be on the far end of the house when he starts the process, but by the time anything is coming out, he's in the den on the carpet.

Our solution for the time being is to try to get something under the puking end of the cat before it happens (not always successful) or to just clean it as well as we can and wait patiently for the day we can extend the wooden flooring in the rest of the house into the den. Poor cat won't know where to barf then. Maybe we'll have to get him a puking rug or something.
posted by Orb at 3:39 PM on April 5, 2006


I've always assumed that cats choose soft/absorbent places to puke to minimize splashback. If you're that close to the ground, and already feeling icky, a face full 'o' puke is the last thing you want.

I had a cat who liked to barf on hot radiators...mmm...pukecakes!
posted by biscotti at 3:57 PM on April 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


re: cat bulemia - my puker only barfs after he eats some of my hanging plants, and it happens immediately. but he goes to great lengths to reach the plant... so:
1. is his tiny cat brain too small to connect the dots between tasty plant chomping and vomiting?
2. he wants to vomit, so tries to reach the plant.
posted by cgs at 11:45 AM on April 6, 2006


My cat is far sweeter than y'all's... If she's on the bed when she feels a hairball coming on, she goes the the edge of the bed and pukes over the side. Usually still hard on the sheets (she doesn't get good distance) but more fun than having it in the middle so I can roll over on it.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:07 PM on April 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


« Older Dirt cheap NY   |   Caffeine-free == sketchy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.