Bazzy Bazzy Why Ya Barfing? What is my cat actually throwing up?
July 29, 2013 6:19 PM   Subscribe

One of my cats is barfing up some clear liquid. What is it? More cat barf details below for the non-squeamish.

My cat Baz, who's about 8 years old, has now barfed twice in two days (that I'm around to see) a bunch of mostly clear or slightly hazy liquid. Yesterday's was a little... thick (sort of snot-like) and today it was more watery. In both cases, he's just been sitting on the ottoman, makes a short "aaaacckkk" sound and out it comes. In other words, not the usual "hurghhurghhurgh" crouched build up of other kinds of cat barfing. Baz makes that aaaaccckkk noise a lot but until recently I'd never seen anything come out. Possibly it did but since it was clear I just didn't see it.

He doesn't seem disturbed. In fact, yesterday before I could get a paper towel on it he LICKED UP the mucus he just barfed out. I was faster today. He's never tried to re-eat his other barfs (a few times a year he scarfs'n'barfs and there are some hairball barfs maybe once a month). He seems completely unperturbed by it, he was purring before and started right back purring again. And he's eating and peeing and pooping and playing perfectly normally so I'm not concerned enough to run to the vet but I am curious: what is be actually barfing up?!

One thought: he has allergies as do I and in the last few days mine have been really out of control. He sneezes sometimes and so I've wondered: could this be snot he's accidentally swallowed? Or like mucus from his lungs?

Requisite photo of cat (not pictured: barfing. You're welcome). And with his brother, star of previous AskMe cat questions.
posted by marylynn to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When my cat was throwing up black biomatter I drove myself crazy searching Google for "cat vomit black". So here's "cat vomit clear".
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:31 PM on July 29, 2013

Oooh handsome Bazzy!
Now. I work in a vet's office. My answer is to ask his Doctor.
Gak! I know, who wants to hear that? "Nobody!", I know!

Here's the thing: Does he eat/drink/pee/poop/act normal outside of these episodes?
If yes, you are *usually* safe to just "watch/monitor" this for a day or so.
But: If he is off his feed/sleeping a lot/not the same/etc take him in to see his vet as soon as you can.
That's the real answer every time.
Also: to answer your question, no idea what he's barfing ... allergies usually don't show up in cats as vomiting and then if it is it's severe and you would see other obvious signs of distress and usually not as sneezing in any case (sneezing is another problem)
If he acts weird (scary weird/different than himself) at all take him in tonight.
posted by bebrave! at 6:44 PM on July 29, 2013

I'm not a vet but I am a crazy cat lady. The clear vomit is probably because he's got an incipient hairball stuck. Have you noticed if he's sort of constipated? It would like like normal poop but sort of shrivelled. If so, give him some fish oil or something like that and he should pass it. He could also have a food allergy.

Sneezing is commonly related to feline rhinotrachaetis, meaning he's probably a carrier and may be actively shedding the virus. It's just a thing cats get but sort of gross. My Siamese is a carrier and every once in a while gets all stuffed up with it.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:07 PM on July 29, 2013

Whenever our pets yak up clear stuff, it's generally a sign of an annoying yet non-imminently-lethal issue (hairball, ate too much grass, stress, etc). IANAV, of course.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:11 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, sounds like you're going to get a hair ball for your birthday (assuming your birthday is today or tomorrow).
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:17 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does your cat barf soon before mealtimes, like, when her/his tummy is empty? This was the case with my cat. Vet suggested it's due to her empty tum, too much acid production on an empty stomach, something like that. He suggested feeding some treats between meals. It does help.
posted by Pleased_As_Punch at 7:37 PM on July 29, 2013

Yeah, you're going to be cleaning up a hairball real soon now. If you don't find it by tomorrow, get some hairball remedy (basically salmon-flavored Vaseline) and put a glob of it on the back of one of his paws. That'll lube up the works a bit and help him get it out.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:59 PM on July 29, 2013

Response by poster: Oh boy, looks like I'm getting a present! As he's perfectly fine in other respects - eating, pooping and such, I'm not so concerned. If I don't get a hairball soon I'll see about giving him something to move it along.

Extra barf story, as a reward: I was pretty sure the other cat NEVER groomed himself, as in a year I've NEVER seen it once and yet he looks really sleek and shiny so Baz is clearly on the job. And then about a month ago, Otto actually coughed up a hairball in front of me and he looked SO surprised and so WTF IS GOING ON!?!?! meanwhile, AS he's barfing it up, Baz goes over and starts to groom him. And by groom him, I mean lick his butt. FYI: Cats can be extra surprised!
posted by marylynn at 8:13 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think the flavored goo is called Petromalt.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2013

Sounds like a hairball.

Petromalt. A good hair brush (the furminator is getting good reviews). And vacuum so they don't lick up previously shedhair.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:10 AM on July 31, 2013

My cat started doing this around the time he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. He also was more irritable in general. Hope your situation resolves.
posted by analog at 5:53 PM on August 1, 2013

Response by poster: After watching this for a while and trying, to no avail, the Petromalt, I finally realized last week that he wasn't actually vomiting - he was COUGHING it up. I could tell because he'd just eaten about a minute before it, made the hacking sound and out came a bunch of clear mucus. If he's been vomiting there would have been food in it for sure.

So last night we went off to the vet with this additional info. Previous vets have suspected for some time that he has asthma and so that's the path we're pursuing now. We'd treated him a lot over the last couple of years for upper respiratory infections but they never seemed to get any better. If it's asthma that explains a lot of it. And he's otherwise really healthy and not sick or lethargic or anything. So unlikely to be just an acute thing. I should hear from the radiologist about the chest xrays they did tomorrow.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions!
posted by marylynn at 1:55 PM on August 29, 2013

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