Cat Eats Own Puke
December 17, 2006 9:20 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my cat to stop eating her own puke?

For a long while I suspected Lolita of eating her own puke. I'd hear her barf and then I wouldn't see any barf on the floor. This morning I woke up and there was a puddle of puke outside my door. I went to shower and I came back and she was hovering over it, smacking her lips in delight and the puke was gone. What's going on? Is my cat a freak?
posted by adrober to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
My cats sometimes ate their own puke. My dog was more of an aficionado. Especially if the puke contained undigested cat food.

I don't think there's any way to cure them of the habit--you just have to get to the puke before they do.
posted by schroedinger at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2006

Is my cat a freak?

All cats are freaks. My cats do this from time to time.
posted by birdherder at 9:29 AM on December 17, 2006

Wow! How can I train my cats to eat their own puke? It's better than me having to clean it up, or accidentally stepping in it.
posted by kimdog at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2006

Honestly, I understand the question, but I don’t see the problem. It’s biblically endorsed! (At least for dogs.)
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2006

I think I know what your cat might be eating its own puke...Cats often throw up when they gobble down their food quickly. If the food is barely digested, why wouldn't your cat eat it (again)? I think the only solution is to be faster than your cat.
posted by typewriter at 9:52 AM on December 17, 2006

Cats are less likely to do this than dogs, but it is perfectly normal behavior. I'm with kimdog -- I wish I could train my cats to clean up their own puke.

This only applies to regurgitated food, BTW, not hairballs.
posted by briank at 9:57 AM on December 17, 2006

i've always viewed this as a digestive method for the cat. the vomit from recently eaten cat food appears to have a lot of cat digestive chemicals that break it down a bit after a while. then the cat can eat some predigested food that's easier on it's stomach.

for dogs, however, they appear to also be fond of what we call around here 'cat treats.' hence the baby gate guarding the litterbox. alas one of the cats is old, so he occasionally gifts the dogs in other places.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 10:06 AM on December 17, 2006

I think the real question here is: "Why do you care that your cat eats its puke?".

Holding animals to human standards of behavior is just silly.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:20 AM on December 17, 2006

Get to the puke before your cat does. That'd be the only way to stop them from eating it. Yes, this is normal.
posted by desuetude at 10:43 AM on December 17, 2006

Well, geez, I can't offer suggestions to help the OP but I can see why they'd be disgusted. Do you not contemplate your pet eating its puke before licking you?
posted by schroedinger at 11:11 AM on December 17, 2006

Do you not contemplate your pet eating its puke before licking you?

Good God, if I contemplated what my cats had been doing with their mouths before they approached me, I'd run for the hills and let them have the house. If you think eating puke is the only gross thing cats do, you haven't spent much time observing the little fellows. Note: when you can't see their head and one leg is way up in the air at a weird angle, they're not practicing yoga.

I join with those who don't see this as a problem, and in fact wish my cat (the pukin' one) would adopt this solution rather than just nosing over it a little and then walking away philosophically.
posted by languagehat at 11:31 AM on December 17, 2006 [5 favorites]

In my household, the generally accepted practice is to listen for signs of puking and rush to the scene before it happens. I don't really care if the cat eats its own puke, but I try to toss it outside before it pukes on the carpet.
posted by muddgirl at 11:46 AM on December 17, 2006

many dogs and cats eat their own vomit; they must find it tasty or perhaps it has good nutritional value. it doesn't seem to be dangerous or harmful (except perhaps to disgusted human observers).

the bigger question is, how frequently is your cat vomiting? if this happens more than once or twice a month your pet might have a medical problem.
posted by jjsonp at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2006

Why does the cat puke? Suggest going to some high quality food. Princess gets Nutro Natural Choice, eats less, poops less, better coat after switching from supermarket food. Never pukes (As far as I know ;-)). Sorry for the non answer post.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:32 PM on December 17, 2006

You could prevent her from puking, or at least lessen it. My twin kitties used to puke way too much, but our vet couldn't find anything wrong with them. In one of his newspaper columns, Dr. Michael Fox recommended putting golf balls on top of cats' dry food to prevent them from gulping it. I have mine in a frisbee covered in about 17 golf balls. They have to nose around them and can just eat a few pieces at a time. This has reduced their puking to about 1/3 of what it was and they no longer puke all over the house (like on my bed.) Mostly they puke right by the food bowl, which is much easier to deal with.

I don't worry about it when they eat it, either.
posted by found dog one eye at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2006

My cat used to vomit quite a lot. The vet told me that cats will sometimes eat as much as they can as quickly as they can, retreat to somewhere a bit safer and regurgitate the food for later consumption.

This is supposedly to carry food away from the source without having to carry it in the mouth, and would be used in situations where a cat might come across a large dead thing it can't possible move, and wants to clear off before other predators arrive.

So, it's not bad for them, it's just horrifying to us because we are used to vomit being the result of illness.

To stop my cat puking we would feed him a teaspoon of food, wait 5 minutes, give him a bit more, until the quantity was gone. This worked very well, but was time consuming.
posted by tomble at 3:37 PM on December 17, 2006

It seems highly cat specific, to me.

I have one bulemic puss of three, the dwindling residue of a population of seven. None of the rest did it.

( Further evidence that there is no god or that he is vengeful, this cat is both my favorite and the youngest. )

Years ago, I had one that slept on the satellite dish receiver and routinely puked INSIDE it, leading me to one of the more delicate cleaning projects I have performed in my professional career.

I'd say try a food change, as Ferrari328 recommends, and whose advice I am going to take.

I will mention that since I moved a month ago and have sequestered the cats inside for the winter, I have seen a marked decrease in puke events. This is a significant reduction and none of them had grass in them... hmmmm.

Is your kitty an inside/outside critter and is there grass in the ejecta?
posted by FauxScot at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2006

I have multiple cats and they eat each others puke. They're 12 and in great health otherwise (the puking is often related to giving them biscuits or them eating too fast). So another vote for don't worry about it.
posted by shelleycat at 6:50 PM on December 17, 2006

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