What Does It Mean if a Cat Is Throwing Up Clear Liquid?

Mychelle Blake
cat sitting on table at vet clinic

While vomiting is normal for cats, frequent vomit, as well as the type of vomit, is always a cause for concern. Cats may vomit clear liquid, which can indicate a variety of medical issues.

Cat Vomit Appearance

Clear liquid vomit can look exactly as the name implies. It is either a clear liquid or sometimes white foam. You can distinguish this vomit from other types because of the color and because there are no solid items in it such as cat food, fur, or hair.

Hairballs

A very common reason for clear liquid vomit is hairballs. When your cat has a hairball and vomits up clear liquid, this is his body's way of getting the hairball out of the stomach. Some gastric liquids may precede the actual hairball coming up. The best way to treat hairballs is to groom your cat regularly to remove excess fur and increase his fiber intake. If you notice your cat repeatedly vomiting clear liquid without producing any hairballs, then the reason is likely something else, and a vet visit is warranted.

Indigestion

Cats can vomit foam for a number of stomach upset reasons:

  • Eating too quickly or too much can lead to clear vomit. In this case use a slow feeder to keep him from eating too fast and give him several small meals during the day instead of fewer and larger ones.
  • Changing his type of food can also cause upset and clear vomit if you did not make the change was gradual enough.
  • Even not eating enough can make a cat vomit white foam because the cat is hungry and her stomach is producing too much acid. If no food enters the stomach, the acid will irritate your cat's stomach enough to cause vomiting.
  • More serious stomach conditions that involve clear or foamy white vomit include gastroenteritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Your veterinarian may prescribe a specific diet for these conditions and further medications if necessary.
  • Another form of indigestion that leads to clear vomit is if the cat is experiencing a loss of appetite or nausea due to serious diseases such as cancer, kidney disease, and diabetes.

Poison and Foreign Objects

Ingesting toxins or inedible items can cause clear liquid and foamy vomit.

  • If you're aware of what your cat has eaten, and you know it's poisonous, take your cat to the veterinarian right away. You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center Hotline to open a case while on your way to the veterinarian's office. Toxins are treated by giving the cat an antidote if the poison is known and one exists. Otherwise. your veterinarian may attempt to get the cat to vomit or pump his stomach and give him activated charcoal and IV fluids.
  • Objects can cause stomach blockages and may require surgery to remove. Your veterinarian may do x-rays to determine where the object is and discuss treatment options with you.

Hyperthyroidism

Clear vomit may also indicate your cat has hyperthyroidism. This condition tends to happen in cats 12 or older although it can sometimes occur in younger cats. Along with the vomiting, you may see symptoms such as weight loss accompanied by excessive eating and thirst, as well as hyperactivity, diarrhea, and losing hair. Treatment may involve radioactive iodine therapy, surgery, and antithyroid pills.

Caring for Your Vomiting Cat

While one of the most common causes for clear liquid or foamy vomit is hairballs, it may indicate your cat has a more serious condition. Always monitor your cat and contact a veterinarian right away if your cat does not produce any hairballs, and the vomiting continues.

What Does It Mean if a Cat Is Throwing Up Clear Liquid?