Other health problems

My Cat Is Throwing Up Undigested Food But Acting Normal

Lucia Scimone
By Lucia Scimone. February 20, 2024
My Cat Is Throwing Up Undigested Food But Acting Normal

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If your cat is vomiting undigested food, many of us would assume it is a sign of a digestive health problem. This can make us confused when we observe them acting normal afterwards with no other evident symptoms. If they are sufficiently unwell to throw up their food, we would expect them to have other problems. In many cases, other signs of gastrointestinal disorder will present. These will depend on the cause and other factors, especially the overall health of the feline. While physical causes are common, it is also possible that psychological issues are responsible.

In this AnimalWised article, we investigate why my cat is throwing up undigested food, but acting normal. When a cat throws up whole pieces of kibble or wet food, we need to examine their diet, eating habits and any possible underlying medical conditions. If vomiting persists for more than 24 hours, you will need to seek veterinary advice.

You may also be interested in: My Cat is Not Eating and Throwing Up


  1. Why does my cat vomit undigested food?
  2. My cat is throwing up undigested food but is acting normal
  3. Should I worry if my cat throws up undigested food?
  4. What to do if a cat vomits undigested food

Why does my cat vomit undigested food?

Before we look at the specifics of why a cat vomits undigested food, but acts normal, we can look at the general reasons why cats throw up their food. These causes can be due to a variety of issues, whether due to a health problem, poor hygiene in their environment, psychological stressors or problems with the level of care with which they are provided.

The fact that the food is undigested is important. Often gastrointestinal disease will cause vomiting after the food has been at least partially digested. When the food exits the feline's mouth whole, it means they have been unable to digest the food for a certain reason. These reasons include the following:

  • Rapid ingestion: some cats will eat their food too quickly, especially if they have food anxiety. This can occur because the cat believes they will not be fed again, so they eat quickly to ensure nutrition in the moment. It can also occur because other animals in the home take their food, so they eat before this can happen. Such fast eating means they don't chew and will vomit because the food won't go down.

  • Gastric sensitivity: gastric sensitivity means there is a problem with the stomach. When there is an imbalance in the stomach, agitation of the gastric mucosa or other issues, it means food can be expelled rapidly. Especially when it is whole, the food can be vomited up almost immediately because of the stomach's reaction.

  • Dental problems: if the cat has a problem with their teeth, it can make chewing difficult or very uncomfortable. This means they are unable to chew their food and will swallow it whole. This can overload their stomach and cause them to throw it up. It is also possible they will not be able to swallow such large pieces of food, so they come back up after ingestion.

  • Inadequate diet: a diet that is not appropriate for the cat's needs or of a sufficient low-quality food could cause digestive difficulties and vomiting of undigested food.

  • Gastrointestinal disorders: various pathologies can lead to damage to the gastric or intestinal mucosa. While a problem such as colitis will cause inflammation further down the GI tract, it can still mean the cat throws up undigested food because of the overall effect it has on their organism.

  • Intestinal parasites: infestations with worms or other intestinal parasites can damage digestive tissues. This causes malfunctioning and can result in vomiting undigested food.

  • Intestinal obstruction: in more severe cases, an intestinal obstruction can mean food cannot pass through to the rest of their digestive system for excretion. This causes a backlog and prevents the digestion of food. When the obstruction is present for a certain amount of time, it can result in vomiting undigested food.

  • Food allergies: some cats may develop food allergies or intolerances that cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and regurgitation of whole pieces of food.

  • Stress: when there are stressors in a cat's environment, the impact can manifest in various ways. While often leading to behavioral problems, they can also result in physical symptoms such as being unable to keep their food down.

As we can see, there are various reasons why cats throw up their food. We will need to look at concurrent symptoms so we can provide this information to a veterinarian for a diagnosis. In the next section we look in more detail at the reasons why a cat is vomiting, but acting normal afterwards.

My cat is throwing up undigested food but is acting normal

Not all of the reasons why a cat vomits undigested food will have the same symptoms. When the cat otherwise acts normal after throwing up, it suggests some causes are more likely than others.

For example, if a cat has a parasitical infestation which is causing them to vomit, there will likely be other concurrent signs. This is because the overall effect of this problem on the organism of the cat. Their coat will likely lose its shine, they will become lethargic and will have other digestive issues such as diarrhea in cats.

Similar systemic problems such as infections or gastrointestinal disease will likely mean the cat does not appear fine. If they are acting normal, the reasons are more likely to be due to the following:

  • Dental problems: although dental issues can prevent the cat from eating and even cause pain when doing so, it does not mean there will be other symptoms. While they will otherwise act normal, they will eventually suffer malnutrition if they are unable to eat for a prolonged period of time.

  • Upper digestive tract obstruction: if a cat has an intestinal obstruction, it can cause serious problems such as abdominal pain or the build up of fecal matter. If the obstruction is closer to the mouth, they won't be able to eat properly, but they might otherwise act normally. For example, a hairball might cause them to throw up undigested food. If it persists, you will like see the cat coughing and gagging to try to remove the foreign body.

  • Food anxiety: if the cat is eating too fast due to food anxiety, they might act normal when it is not feeding time. However, continued stress can manifest in various physical or behavioral problems in the cat.
  • Mild gastrointestinal disorders: if the gastric issues in the cat are mild, they may vomit undigested food, but not show any other symptoms. Only when the disorder is prolonged or very acute might other symptoms present.

  • Inadequate diet: if the cat doesn't lie the food or it is otherwise inappropriate for the animal, the cat may vomit it up, but otherwise be unharmed. This can be the case if the cat has a mild intolerance to certain ingredients.

Should I worry if my cat throws up undigested food?

Although the cat may be acting normal after vomiting up undigested food, it doesn't mean they are well. Some of the problems we have described can be completely asymptomatic for a long period, but damage is being carried out during this time. For this reason, we share some general guidelines to consider if your cat throws up undigested food:

  • Frequency: whether it is wet food or kibble, we do not necessarily need to be worried if a cat throws up undigested food occasionally. Especially if they do not show any other symptoms of illness, it could be mild form of digestive upset which does not need remedied. Only if the vomiting persists or becomes more frequent might we need to worry.

  • Persistence: if vomiting persists for more than 24 to 48 hours or if your cat shows other signs of discomfort or illness, it is best to go to the vet. Persistent vomiting may indicate underlying problems that require proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Behavioral changes: if your cat vomits whole kibble and shows behavioral changes such as lethargy, loss of appetite, changes in thirst or urinary frequency, it is important to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. These symptoms could indicate a more serious health problem.

  • Weight loss: even if the underlying cause is not life threatening, being unable to keep food down will eventually be a serious health issue. If the problem persists enough to result in the cat losing weight, we will need to remedy it as soon as possible.

  • Other symptoms: when other signs of gastrointestinal discomfort accompany the vomiting of undigested food, the cat will need a diagnosis. Symptoms such as diarrhea can be fairly common. If we see the presence of blood in the vomit, they have breathing difficulties or we observe signs of pain in the cat, they may be experiencing a veterinary medical emergency.

We also need to consider any changes we may have made to the cat's care. For example, if we have changed their diet, we may need to change back. If we are at all unsure about what to feed our cat, we should consult a veterinarian. They can assess their specific needs and ensure they are met. For example, certain health problems will require an amended diet.

My Cat Is Throwing Up Undigested Food But Acting Normal - Should I worry if my cat throws up undigested food?

What to do if a cat vomits undigested food

As we have stated above, we cannot ignore our cat if they regularly vomit undigested food, even if they are otherwise acting normal. We will need to rule out the possibility of an underlying health problem. This will require speaking to a veterinarian for an accurate evaluation and diagnosis. Generally speaking, you will need to consider the following if your cat vomits undigested food:

  • Consult your veterinarian: if your cat vomits undigested food persistently, frequently or is accompanied by other worrying symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy or behavioral changes, it is essential to consult your veterinarian. Only a professional can diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

  • Change their bowl: if your cat eats too quickly, try using special bowls designed to slow down food consumption. These bowls have textured surfaces which requires the cat to work harder to extract the food so they can eat it. Depending on the design, they may only work with dry kibble.

  • Change their feed: you may want to consider changing your cat's diet. Some cats may have food intolerances or adverse reactions to specific ingredients. It is best to talk to your veterinary nutritionist for advice on how to choose a diet appropriate to your cat's needs. An example of this may be buying food which is specially designed for cats with sensitive stomachs.

  • Smaller and more frequent meals: divide the cat's total daily food intake into smaller portions. While they will still need to eat the same amount of food, you can increase the frequency of meals so they do not overload their stomach at one time. This can also helps for cats obsessed with food since they will have less opportunity to become anxious between feedings.

  • Control access to food: limit your cat's access to food, especially if you have multiple cats in the same home. This can prevent them from eating too quickly or stealing food from each other.

  • Rule out dental problems or intestinal parasites: make sure your cat does not have any dental problems that could cause pain when chewing. Your veterinarian may recommend a visit to a feline dentist. In the case of intestinal parasites, the veterinarian will do a stool analysis to rule them out. We should ensure we carry out a suitable deworming schedule for cats to best prevent infestation.

Remember that these are only general suggestions and that veterinary advice is essential for a complete evaluation of your cat. Persistent vomiting of undigested food in cats may be a symptom of more serious health problems that require professional attention.

Since we need to tailor our cat's diet to their specific needs, you can take a look at our video below on how often kittens, adult cats and senior cats should eat:

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Is Throwing Up Undigested Food But Acting Normal, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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My Cat Is Throwing Up Undigested Food But Acting Normal