How to Clean Up Cat Vomit

icon July 2, 2024

Cats, while endearing and lovable, sometimes exhibit behaviors that can be alarming or distressing to their owners. Vomiting is one such behavior that, while common, can cause concern. This comprehensive guide will not only delve into how to clean up cat vomit effectively but also explore the reasons why cats vomit, when it is normal, what to do after a cat throws up, how to settle a cat's stomach after vomiting, and what concerning cat vomit looks like.

How to Clean Up Cat Vomit

Cleaning up cat vomit quickly and efficiently is crucial to prevent stains and odors from setting in. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

1. Gather Supplies:
Before you start, gather all necessary supplies. You’ll need paper towels, a plastic bag, a scrub brush, carpet cleaner or enzyme cleaner, gloves, and possibly a steam cleaner for stubborn stains.

2. Remove Solid Matter:
Using a paper towel or plastic scoop, carefully remove any solid matter from the vomit. Place it in a plastic bag for disposal. Be gentle to avoid pushing the vomit further into the carpet or fabric.

3. Blot the Area:
Blot the area with paper towels to absorb as much liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing, as this can spread the stain and push it deeper into the carpet fibers.

4. Apply Cleaner:
Spray the affected area with a carpet cleaner or enzyme cleaner specifically designed for pet stains. Enzyme cleaners are particularly effective as they break down the proteins in the vomit, neutralizing odors and preventing stains.

5. Scrub and Blot:
Using a scrub brush, gently scrub the area to work the cleaner into the carpet. Blot the area again with paper towels to lift the cleaner and remaining liquid.

6. Rinse and Dry:
If using a steam cleaner, go over the area with plain water to rinse out any remaining cleaner. Allow the area to air dry, or use a fan to speed up the process.

7. Deodorize:
Once the area is dry, sprinkle a bit of baking soda over the spot to deodorize. Vacuum it up after 15-20 minutes.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

Cats vomit for various reasons, and understanding the cause can help determine whether it’s a minor issue or a sign of a more serious problem. Here are some common reasons why cats throw up:

1. Cat Throwing Up Clear Liquid

→ Hydration Issues: Clear liquid vomit often indicates that the cat is throwing up water or stomach secretions. This can happen if the cat has consumed a large amount of water quickly or on an empty stomach.

Hairballs: Cats groom themselves frequently and can ingest a lot of hair. Sometimes, this hair can accumulate and be vomited as clear liquid if it’s not fully formed into a hairball.

Gastrointestinal Irritation: Clear liquid vomit can also indicate gastrointestinal irritation or an empty stomach. If the cat’s stomach is irritated, it might produce excess gastric juices that are then vomited up.

2. Cat Throwing Up Food

→ Eating Too Quickly: Cats that eat too fast can regurgitate undigested food shortly after eating. This is often because the food hasn’t had time to reach the stomach.

→ Dietary Sensitivities: Certain foods might not agree with your cat, causing them to vomit soon after eating. Switching to a different food or checking for allergies can help identify the issue.

→ Infections or Illness: Gastrointestinal infections or systemic illnesses can cause vomiting. If the cat vomits food regularly, it might be a sign of an underlying health problem that needs veterinary attention.

Is It Normal for Cats to Throw Up?

An occasional vomit is not unusual for cats and can happen for benign reasons such as eating too quickly or mild gastrointestinal upset. However, frequent vomiting is not normal and should be investigated. Here’s a breakdown of when vomiting is considered normal and when it’s not:

1. Normal Vomiting:

  • Hairballs: Cats vomit hairballs occasionally due to their grooming habits.
  • Dietary Changes: A sudden change in diet can cause temporary vomiting as the cat’s digestive system adjusts.
  • Mild Irritation: Minor gastrointestinal irritation or eating something unusual can lead to occasional vomiting.

2. Abnormal Vomiting:

  • Frequency: Vomiting more than once or twice a month is not normal and warrants veterinary attention.
  • Symptoms: Vomiting accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, weight loss, or changes in appetite is concerning.
  • Persistent Vomiting: Continuous vomiting over a few days is a sign of a serious issue that needs immediate veterinary care.

What to Do After a Cat Throws Up?

After your cat throws up, it’s important to take certain steps to ensure their health and comfort. Here’s what you should do:

1. Clean Up Promptly:
Follow the steps outlined above to clean up the vomit and prevent stains and odors.

2. Monitor Your Cat:
Keep an eye on your cat for any additional vomiting or signs of illness. Note the frequency and appearance of the vomit.

3. Check for Dehydration:
Ensure your cat is drinking water. Dehydration can occur quickly if vomiting is frequent. Check for signs such as dry gums, lethargy, and decreased skin elasticity.

4. Adjust Feeding:
Offer smaller, more frequent meals to help settle your cat’s stomach. Avoid feeding them immediately after they’ve vomited.

5. Remove Potential Irritants:
If you suspect the vomit is due to something your cat ingested, remove the potential irritants from their environment.

How Do You Settle a Cat's Stomach After Vomiting?

Settling a cat’s stomach after vomiting involves dietary adjustments and providing a calm environment. Here’s how you can help:

1. Offer Bland Food:
Provide easily digestible food such as boiled chicken or a specially formulated bland diet for cats. This can help soothe their stomach.

2. Hydration:
Ensure your cat stays hydrated by offering water or electrolyte solutions designed for pets. You can also offer wet food to increase their water intake.

3. Smaller Meals:
Feed smaller, more frequent meals to prevent the stomach from becoming overwhelmed.

4. Quiet Environment:
Keep your cat in a quiet, stress-free environment. Stress can exacerbate gastrointestinal issues.

5. Consult Your Vet:
If your cat continues to vomit or shows other signs of illness, consult your veterinarian. They might recommend medications to settle the stomach.

What Does Concerning Cat Vomit Look Like?

Certain characteristics of vomit can indicate more serious health issues that require immediate veterinary attention.

Here’s what to look out for:

1. Blood:
Vomit that contains blood, which may appear as red streaks or resemble coffee grounds, indicates internal bleeding and needs urgent veterinary care.

2. Bile:
Green or yellow vomit (bile) can indicate a problem with the liver or gallbladder.

3. Frequent Vomiting:
If your cat vomits frequently, regardless of the vomit’s appearance, it’s a cause for concern.

4. Undigested Food:
Persistent vomiting of undigested food can signal a gastrointestinal blockage or severe digestive issue.

5. Foul Odor: 
Vomit with a particularly foul odor might indicate a serious gastrointestinal infection or other severe condition.


Cleaning up cat vomit is an essential skill for any cat owner, but understanding why your cat is vomiting and when it’s a cause for concern is equally important. By following the steps outlined for cleaning, monitoring your cat’s health, and knowing how to manage their stomach issues, you can ensure your feline friend stays healthy and comfortable. Always consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about your cat’s vomiting or if they exhibit signs of a more serious health issue. With proper care and attention, you can help your cat recover quickly and prevent future episodes.

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