cat puke
February 10, 2005 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Is cat puke just a fact of life? [+]

My beast is around 6 or 7 (she was a young stray but not a kitten when I got her 5 years ago).

I feed her Avoderm once a day, and I brush her coat a few times a week. She still pukes from time to time - maybe as much as once a week. This isn't the end of the world, but we have recently moved in with a roommate, and reducing the likelihood is therefore quite desirable. Any advice?

Can cats be trained to puke in the litterbox, for instance? When I hear her making the high pitched whine-meow that usually precedes the action, I try to transfer her, but I think she is too overcome by the abdominal spasms to take this on as a habit...
posted by mdn to Pets & Animals (48 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One day my kitty jumped up onto my coffee table, looked at me with her big, soulful yellow eyes, and without so much as a spasm or a *hack* threw up all over the damn thing.

Yeah, it's pretty much a fact of life. I have two cats and it doesn't matter which one it is, or whether it's wet food or dry food, some days/weeks are just pukier that others.

I'd try keeping some old newspapers in strategic spots. You'd probably have more luck getting those to the cat than getting the cat to the litter box.
posted by Cyrano at 11:05 AM on February 10, 2005

Seems to be a fact of life.

It could be food allergies. It could be too much fur ingested.

I keep old magazines or newspapers around. Instead of moving the convulsing cat, just slip the papers under his face. There's generally a few good hacks before anything comes up, so I usually have time. Usually.
posted by mealy-mouthed at 11:06 AM on February 10, 2005

Yes, it is a fact of life. Especially as they get older.

You just have to have some newspaper or paper towels handy to put underneath her.

This little guy (with the yellow soft-bristle attachment and some Simple Green) comes in handy cleaning up the carpet spots.

Once she's about 8 or 9, have your vet run a complete suite of "senior" tests to check her kidney function and whatnot.
posted by matildaben at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2005

i've pretty much taken it as a fact with mine (she's around 12). I do take measures (brushing, better food, etc.) and I'm sure there's more I can do, but I've pretty much given up. I just sigh and go for the paper towels...

If you can train a cat, or any animal for that matter, to puke in a specified place, you'd probably be a millionaire from selling your "Teach Your Cat to Puke Responsibly" book.

Good luck.
posted by hellbient at 11:10 AM on February 10, 2005

Does it happen right after she eats? If she's eating too quickly, I've heard that raising her bowl a few inches will help prevent the speedy chow-down that usually precedes my cat's occasional barfcapades.

I tried that for a few days, but my cat kept pulling the bowl off of the book I was putting it on, spilling kibble all over the place, and batting many pieces all around the kitchen floor in some kind of entertaining edible hockey game. So I gave up.
posted by kittyb at 11:12 AM on February 10, 2005

We have had much less puking since we gave the kids a Pet Fountain (Drinkwell, PetMate). Increased water consumption seems to help with this (and other chronic illnesses/conditions/reactions).
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:12 AM on February 10, 2005


We have a cat. He pukes once every three days, at least. Sometimes more. He's done it his whole life. We've taken him to vets so many times. Nothing wrong. Dude just pukes. And then walks off like, hey, no problem. Pile of puke.

Actually, he is my fiancee's cat from before me, so whenever he pukes I call him your cat.

So yes.
posted by xmutex at 11:14 AM on February 10, 2005

It just seems to be part of the feline physiology-- they puke. Mother lions regurgitate food from kills for their weaned cubs. Housecats throw up balls of fur and they vomit food if they eat too fast.

And every pet cat does it. (Yes, yes someone reading this has a cat that never pukes, opens combinations locks and reads The New Yorker.) My parents have five, and cleaning up vomit is a multiple times per week occurance. We have one, and I cleaned partially digested Iams from under the bed yesterday.

Besides cancer, intestinal blockages seem to be the biggest killer of old cats. So I think their system is just supposed to send a lot of stuff out the front end.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:18 AM on February 10, 2005

One of my cats has puked only once or twice in four years. The other one pukes once a week, or any time she eats anything unusual at all, including cat treats.

So I would say it's possible to get a non-puking cat. I'm not giving up mine though.
posted by agropyron at 11:18 AM on February 10, 2005

Before the skeptics jump in, I should revise my statement: My wife and I have only WITNESSED one cat puke once or twice in four years. He may do it surreptitiously, and we blame the one that's always puking. But still, he's pretty good at keeping things down.
posted by agropyron at 11:20 AM on February 10, 2005

And then walks off like, hey, no problem. Pile of puke.

You're lucky. Mine try to eat it.
posted by Cyrano at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2005

agropyron: We have two cats, and one often eats the other's vomit. This could well be going on with yours.
posted by xmutex at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2005

My favourite is when my cat pukes on the carpet, but right next to the easy-to-clean kitchen tiles. We guess that she likes to be nice and comfy, with a warm carpet under her, when she's ill. Sigh.

My cat pukes about once a week, but shows absolutely no ill effects (and is totally disassociated from the puke). She eats and drinks well otherwise, so I don't worry too much. If your cat seems healthy, I wouldn't worry.
posted by livii at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2005

Feh. I feel a little... pukey... after reading all the comments.
posted by Specklet at 11:32 AM on February 10, 2005

Perhaps I am committing a grave Metafilter sin (or several) here, but what the hell. Here's a cartoon my wife drew:

Yes, it's just a fact of life.
posted by jdroth at 11:39 AM on February 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

My cat did this, we took him to the vet, and we found out he had minor, common digestive problems. We switched his food to Hill's Prescription Diet, feline i/d and the puking stopped.

He still puked occasionally in the morning, so we started feeding him in the evening; bile apparently can build up over night on an empty stomach.

He only pukes now when he's been out drinkin' and whorin'.
posted by Loser at 11:43 AM on February 10, 2005

you'd probably be a millionaire from selling your "Teach Your Cat to Puke Responsibly" book.

hah. I guess I was hoping someone already was...

If she's eating too quickly, I've heard that raising her bowl a few inches will help prevent the speedy chow-down that usually precedes my cat's occasional barfcapades.

barfcapades, that's good too. I haven't specifically noticed if it tends to happen after she eats, but it seems fairly likely. Maybe I'll try that, though I can certainly imagine the little beauty similarly entertaining herself if I try balancing bowls on top of things. Maybe I'll see if there are one piece raised bowls, though...

If your cat seems healthy, I wouldn't worry.

Yes, she seems to be doing well, so I'm not really worried. I just feel bad because I had to clean my new roommate's couch cover the other day, and I'd like to reduce chances of her (my roommate) coming home to such gifts in the future... The creature is dear enough to me that I don't mind all that much, but I don't want it to be a stress on a living situation. Although this thread is giving a rather fatalistic account of the options, so...
posted by mdn at 11:45 AM on February 10, 2005

kittyb: barfcapades.

posted by netsirk at 11:48 AM on February 10, 2005

Cute cartoon, would be simpler than finding cat-puke colored carpeting, that's for sure.

One of our cats pukes if you look at him sideways, the other almost never.

The house we own now has carpeting throughout the upstairs and in the living room, and I'm just hoping I can afford to replace all of it with hardwood, even if it's one room at a time, just to get beyond the gack stains.
posted by briank at 11:48 AM on February 10, 2005

We have brother and sister kitties, now 3. Sister may have puked once. Brother pukes every couple of weeks; mainly, he insists on eating plants (e.g. the Christmas tree) no matter how many times they make him puke.

I guess the only advice I have here is,
1) inspect puke for mystery objects (like pine needles), and
2) if eating too fast seems to be the problem, then serve in several, smaller portions.

My parents have a cat that pukes essentially every morning, after breakfast. So things can be worse.
posted by Aknaton at 11:49 AM on February 10, 2005

Having just lost an elderly, puky longhair to cancer, I'd like to mention the fact that if the puke STINKS to high heaven, something is likely very wrong. I don't mean like "what's that smell" I mean, "if it isn't cleaned up soon, I'm puking too." That's when I knew it was serious. You might want to try new foods out, some (usually more expensive) kinds are designed to be easy on the digestive system.
posted by scratch at 11:55 AM on February 10, 2005

My favorite cat-puke related debacle was the curling ribbon. we had to pull the damned stuff out of Ginger's throat or she'd just keep puking. Of course, it was even more inconvenient and yuck when it came out the other end.....

I've never had a non-puking cat. Not once. If you have one, please breed it.
posted by u.n. owen at 11:56 AM on February 10, 2005

My cat eats like a dog, which means he practically inhales his food. If he's really hungry at feeding time he gets his food in small portions, otherwise he'll barf before he's made it across the room. At one point I fed him large, chunky kibble to force him to chew his food.

The puking used to be quite frequent, and after tests it turned out that he had beginning kidney problems (and a broken tooth that required surgery, he must have loved me for that big kibble). We switched to Outrageously Expensive Veterinary Diet kibble which will put me in the poorhouse before long, but there's considerably less puking (once every couple of months instead of three times a week) and his kidney levels are back to normal. Worth every cent.
posted by hannala at 12:09 PM on February 10, 2005

My big guy was a regular puker until about a week ago. I changed his food to the Purina hairball prevention stuff. Hasn't puked since. Of course, maybe it'll still happen. Like I said, it's only been a week.

(Problem is, he loves this new food so much that he's become a serious beggar. Shhhh -- don't tell him it's medicinal.)

Also, for those puke-on-the-carpet occasions, I've found that Resolve carpet cleaner works really well. Get the foamy kind.

And now back to our program....
posted by mudpuppie at 12:11 PM on February 10, 2005

My cat would upchuck every two days or so until I switched to Purina One Special Care for sensitive systems as his dry food. It's been about 9 months and he hasn't puked (at least that I know of) since.
posted by boymilo at 12:16 PM on February 10, 2005

My favorite cat-puke related debacle was the curling ribbon. we had to pull the damned stuff out of Ginger's throat or she'd just keep puking.

One of the cats I grew up with ate a piece of string that had been used to lift a chicken out of a roasting pan. He threw up like mad for days before we had to take him to the vet and have it surgically removed (we had no clue until the vet told us the cause.) A friend of mine's cat at some Christmas tree tinsel and puked his guts out and ultimately had to be put down. I find bits of rubber band in puke every now and then. So, reducing the number of things lying around that could be puke inducers probably wouldn't hurt either.
posted by Cyrano at 12:27 PM on February 10, 2005

this is weird. i've been the owner of probably 7 or 8 cats in my life on this earth, and none have experienced this chronic vomit of which you all speak? most of them spent a lot of time outdoors though, perhaps this is where all the action was taking place.
posted by glenwood at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2005

From what I found healthy cats puke for two reasons

1. hairballs
2. eating food too fast.

For #1, all you can do is try to limit the hair, frequent brushings seem to help. Not only does it get rid of extra hair, it makes them less likely to shed. Lucky these aren't so bad for me, as there are no chunks and just a little bit of liquid.

For #2 I'll share my experience.

I have two cats that used to eat an equal mix of dry and wet cat food. But after one of my cats had a second bout of FLUTD i had to switch them to all wet food. While all the causes for FLUTD are not known (vets call those causes Idiopathic,) vets are pretty sure that dry food causes more crystals in the urine.

Now my one cat, who used to occasionally puke up all his food right after eating (usually if i had been a little remiss in feeding them,) started puking up every meal as soon as i switched to all wet food. I tried to feed him in small amounts, but I really couldn't do more than 3 times a day and he would still puke. Now I am reduced to holding the cat from behind with my hands around his chest to allow him only one bite at a time and to make sure he actually swallows it before going back for more. I'm going to try raising the bowl as was suggested in this thread, but I'm pretty sure he will be the type to knock it over unless i gerry rig some sort of contraption. I can guess this as I now have to tape my water fountain drinking fountain lid on, otherwise he rips it off and steals the filter for play time. I don't understand but i can predict his behavior.

But for now I am reduced to being my cats personal eating assistant. The alternative is a skinny cat and me picking up undigested cat food puke every day. I thought I was supposed to have more benefits for being higher on the evolutionary chain. I have no pride left.
posted by lips at 12:43 PM on February 10, 2005

Gastrointestinal lubricants such as Petromalt will greatly reduce vomiting from both swallowed fur and food-bolting, as it allows undigestible matter to pass through the cat and out the non-mouth end. Hartz also markets a hairball remedy; like Petromalt, I believe it's mostly petroleum. In a pinch you can give a cat a pea-sized bit of Vaseline (surprisingly, most of them WILL eat it.)
posted by cirocco at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2005

A couple of days ago, my cat wandered into the lounge, puked up what appeared to be a bairly digested slug onto the carpet, and then walked straight back out of the door. I'm pretty sure there is no medical reason why do this, and that they are in fact just fucking with us.
posted by chill at 1:40 PM on February 10, 2005

What about feeding them a touch of vaseline?
A friend told me that was the homebrew hairball cure. I tried it once, and he enjoyed it, and his hacking and spewing ceased for a couple days. Yeah/Nay?
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:50 PM on February 10, 2005

Missed that on preview. My cat quite devoured his initial sampling of vaseline. But he also likes muffins and sweet potato...
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:53 PM on February 10, 2005

I inherited a cat six months ago that has yet to puke; there are no other cats in the house, so I think I would notice if he did. I'll second Glenwood's suggestion: my cat also spent the first 7 years of his life outside (which make for a lot of crying at the door), so perhaps that has something to do with it. Also, he refuses to eat any food except Purina Cat Chow.
posted by j3s at 2:02 PM on February 10, 2005

We've got a puker, and two puke eaters so it kind of works out in the end.
posted by jennyb at 2:10 PM on February 10, 2005

That nauseated me and I posted it.

The puker is otherwise healthy and she basically just vomits up what looks like little piles of damp dry food.* The one time she went puke-crazy it turns out she had swallowed a rubber band. This warranted an emergency trip to the vet for re-hydration and a laxative to get the remaining rubber band pieces out of her intestines.

So yes, fact of life, unless there is an obvious change in her vomiting habits in which case call a vet.

*We don't really leave the puke around for the other cats to eat--that's grosser than cleaning up cat vomit. But I won't say I haven't thought about it.
posted by jennyb at 2:16 PM on February 10, 2005

I'm pretty sure there is no medical reason why do this, and that they are in fact just fucking with us.

I just want you guys to know that I have laughed out loud several times reading this thread. And I have a long and colorful (ahem) history with cat puke, so know that I'm laughing with you, not at you.
posted by matildaben at 2:17 PM on February 10, 2005

No mention of breed of cat. Siamese cats are chewers. And swallowers. And then pukers.

Things I have found in Siamese cat puke:


-straw from a hula skirt

-the rubber nubbie things on the end of a doorstop

-human hair

-gnarled hand from a barbie doll

So then the answer is yes.
posted by madandal at 2:29 PM on February 10, 2005

Petromalt is just vaseline with flavorings, so vaseline is fine.

I find that petroleum-based palliatives and hairball formula food are really just designed to make sure the hairballs get out. There's less puking because the hairballs themselves are evacuated on the first try, but there's still some puking. Which is still far better than a blockage.

For a while, one of my cats was going through a phase of puking on the foot of my bed, on my feet, once every two weeks. I'm so glad that's over.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:33 PM on February 10, 2005

We had a part Maine Coon that we would give a teaspoonful of vegetable oil to once a month. This greatly reduced hairball induced retching.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:53 PM on February 10, 2005

In the spirit of sharing:

When our daughter was about 5 (?) months old (big enough to sit up, not big enough to crawl) whenever we needed our hands free, we would sit her on a blanket with a bunch of toys in easy reach, and she would be content for a few minutes. Early one morning (early enough to still be dark out) we did this usual routine of putting in the pile of toys so we could stumble around the kitchen to make breakfast. Then we heard this distinctive humming sound she always made when she was eating something. What could she be eating? I went into the living room to check on the situation, digging my finger in her mouth to see what she had found.

Ew. Cat food.

So I proceeded to dig the kitty kibbles out of her mouth telling her "Yucky!" and wondering where did she get cat food? (She couldn't yet crawl, remember). Then I saw the neat little pile of wet cat kibbles on the blanket in front of her. And slowly, horribly it dawned on me. My lovely angel child was eating cat puke!

I don't think her Dad has ever forgiven the cats for that one.
posted by raedyn at 3:04 PM on February 10, 2005

My cat puked on my Xbox yesterday. That took guts.
posted by deshead at 3:36 PM on February 10, 2005

I love the smell of cat puke in the morning. It smells like...victuals. Actually, that lovely cat puking sound is almost a morning ritual with my's practically the alarm clock around here. And then there's that wonderful warm squishiness between the toes on the way to the bathroom in the dark. But the vet says she's fine, and she seems just fine, so I guess it's just a fact of cat life. (and raedyn...ooooomf!)
posted by airgirl at 4:06 PM on February 10, 2005

Great, you guys are making me wonder. We've had our kitty for three months and he hasn't puked once.

That we've found.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:10 PM on February 10, 2005

All you Petromalt/Vaseline advocates -- what's your secret? My puker won't go near it. He seems to know when I have it hidden behind my back and subsequently proceeds to hide under furniture.

I know one of the tricks is to spread it on their fur so that they'll be compelled to clean it off, but he's even got around this one. No matter where I put the stuff, he figures out how to wipe it off on the couch.

Any pointers, let me know....
posted by mudpuppie at 4:52 PM on February 10, 2005

mudpuppie: that is so kitty LOVES petromalt. he knows what the tube is and where i keep it and when i go to get it he runs and rubs my legs! i saw another brand--hertz i think?--that has salmon flavor and malt flavor. Maybe try a different flavor than Petromalt and your kitty might love it. Good Luck!
posted by rio at 9:18 PM on February 10, 2005

No mention of breed of cat.

I don't think she's anything in particular, though my roommate commented that she might be the product of a streetwalkin' mama and a high class out of town tom, 'cause she's got a little street and a little princess... I'd call her a calico except a)the white is only in the "tuxedo" pattern, ie, booties, front, chest, neck, tip of nose; b) instead of orange & black, it's peach and grey; c) instead of splotches, it's in what on dogs is called a "brindle" pattern. Her hair is normal length, though, not like a siamese.
posted by mdn at 6:56 AM on February 11, 2005

^ not to suggest "calico" would be a breed! just describing her...
posted by mdn at 6:58 AM on February 11, 2005

Well, this is duly answered, so: Cuidado!

Our mouseycat is affectionately known as pukeycat, mostly because she gorges. It's definitely not comfortable for her, so we try to find food that she handles well -- the winner was Felidae wet, although Hill's Prescription i/d was good for a while too. (Our guys have to have Hill's t/d dental food for dry.) Rasha on the other hand is entirely a plants-and-hairballs puker, and I figure that's just the way he is.

So since you're stuck with it you need to clean it up. We've got hardwood now so it's not a big deal, but on carpet we had ok luck with Nature's Miracle Just for Cats.
posted by mendel at 7:33 AM on February 11, 2005

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