Why Is My Cat Throwing Up White Foam?

Here's when to contact your vet.

It’s the sound that sends shivers down every cat parent’s spine — the sound of a cat gagging and getting ready to puke. Sometimes they’re regurgitating food. Other times they’re hacking up a hairball.

But why is your cat throwing up white foam? Is this an immediate cause for concern, or is it just normal cat behavior?

We reached out to a vet to learn more about what white, foamy throw-up means and when it signifies a trip to the vet is needed ASAP.

Why is your cat throwing up white foam?

Luckily, if your cat only occasionally throws up white foam, you likely have nothing to worry about.

“Cats can vomit for multiple reasons and may not always indicate an illness,” Dr. Callie Harris, a vet who works with Purina, told The Dodo. “For example, [vomiting white foam may occur] if they eat too quickly, hack up a hairball from personal grooming or if they’re active on an empty stomach.”

You can cut down on hairballs by grooming your cat regularly (especially if she has long fur) and making sure you’re feeding your cat the appropriate amount of food and at the same time every day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, an automatic cat feeder may come in handy.

As long as your cat isn’t vomiting regularly (like after eating or on a daily basis) and is eating and acting normally, then she’s probably dealing with something minor. Of course, contact your vet if you have any questions or concerns.

When to see a vet

However, if your cat is throwing up white foam chronically, then this could point to a more serious affliction.

Gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal blockage, pancreatitis, diabetes, kidney and liver disease, hyperthyroidism, and parasites can also be the root cause of your cat throwing up white foam. She also may be allergic to her food or ingesting something she shouldn’t be.

Pay close attention to any other symptoms that may be present along with your cat throwing up. If your cat also displays signs of lethargy, diarrhea or refusing to eat or drink, you should contact your vet immediately.

“It’s always possible that something else is going on,” Dr. Harris said. “In almost every case, if your cat is vomiting, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about it so you can rule out any serious issues.”

Can vomiting be treated at home?

No. Occasional and chronic vomiting cannot be treated with any over-the-counter medications.

Your vet may give your cat an anti-nausea medication or a prescription food depending on her diagnosis. But again, consult your vet if reoccurring vomiting is an issue.

If your cat only throws up white foam every once in a while, then you can make some simple changes to her daily schedule to help her feel better. Make sure you keep an eye on how frequently she throws up and if there are any more symptoms involved — and always contact your vet if any concerns arise.