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Cat Throwing up Clear Liquid: Why and What to Do?

What does it mean when you see your cat throwing up clear liquid? What is wrong and what should you do? It can send most cats’ parents into a frenzy, but it’s not always a horrible omen. If your cat is facing chronic vomiting, it could be serious but let us not forget that vomiting is a pretty common behavior in cats.

Cat vomiting clear liquid | Challenges

The joys of having a cat in the family are enormous and generally serve to help us keep life and its challenges at bay.

Loving cats means watching their health and behavior carefully for signs of illness or injury. When your cat throws up clear liquid, they probably won’t tell you why.

Do they also have abdominal pain? Hard to tell!

Cats are very stoic. That’s probably because in the wild a cat cannot afford to appear weak or unable to defend itself. To appear vulnerable could mean a death sentence, so they hide their symptoms well.

This instinct to conceal symptoms can make the doctoring duties of cat lovers much more difficult.

If you notice your cat has thrown up, you are going to have to investigate a little in order to find out the cause.

Cat Throwing up Clear Liquid: Why and What to Do? | Fluffy Kitty

Why Would a Cat Throw up Clear Liquid?

There are a whole wagon-load of reasons that your kitty might vomit. They range from a simple case of hairball to cancer. If your cat is vomiting clear liquid your first job is to observe the behavior, and take a look at the vomit.

If the vomit contains undigested cat food/kibbles, for example, you know the problem is likely different from the clear liquid, or the foamy liquid vomit. Just as you would for your human child, you need to pay attention to when this behavior happens, how often it occurs, and how your kitty’s current behavior is compared to their usual sunny self.

The Most Common Reason: Hairball

If the cat’s vomit is clear and they seem otherwise happy, the most likely cause is a hairball.

Hairballs happen when during the grooming process, hair gets stuck on their rough tongue and then makes its way to their stomach where it accumulates. Eventually, the mass of hair just has to be ejected. When this happens, your cat will often vomit clear liquid (gastric juices) first, followed a short time later by the offending hairball.

If the vomiting does not stop and/or becomes more frequent without the appearance of the hairball, please take your kitty to a veterinarian. It may be nothing serious, but why take that chance?

Cat food that was no good

One reason is that you’ve recently switched up your cat’s food. Even changing from one brand of cat food to another can cause this upset, which is why it’s recommended to gradually incorporate new changes into your pet’s regular meal over the course of 5–7 days (it’s also smart as to detect a potential food allergy).

Another reason your cat is vomiting a clear liquid could be due to a change in feeding time. Cats love regularity; a sharp 9am feeding time to a 12pm feeding time could cause tummy upset. This could lead to cats feeling like they need to scarf down their food because they’re now unsure when their next mealtime will be.

In other words, cats don’t like unpredictability when it comes to when they’ll be fed, causing them to hoard food, or eat it too quickly. A gluttonous cat will vomit up their food just as quickly as it ate it. Sometimes, this “purge” can lead to several sessions of vomiting; first the food, and then the clear liquid that follows.

Finally, a cat who constantly (or at least regularly) throws up clear liquid could be suffering from indigestion due to gastrointestinal upset. If ever your cat’s vomiting behavior is persistent and doesn’t improve within 24–48 hours, you should take your cat to the vet.

Thyroid Problems

A cat throwing up clear liquid could signal thyroid problems. Thyroid problems in cats are difficult to pinpoint. The problems develop when cats secrete too much of the thyroid hormone, resulting in symptoms such as oily skin, greasy hair, acne in the facial area, excessive salivation, and/or cats vomiting clear liquid.

In this instance, you should go to the vet. There, your vet will prescribe medications and diet changes to solve thyroid imbalances.

Poison Can Cause Your Cat to Throw up Clear Liquid

Sometimes, cats get exposed to things they shouldn’t, but it’s important to know that accidental poisoning can result in your cat throwing up clear liquid.

There are lots and lots of toxins out there in the world that can harm your kitty which could result in your cat vomiting clear liquid. A walk across the garage floor where spilled antifreeze could result in paws covered in this very toxic substance. Your cat, being fastidious, will lick their paws clean and, well, who knows what happens after that if you’re not paying attention.

Example: Cat Throwing up Clear Liquid: Why and What to Do? | Fluffy Kitty

Other symptoms of poisoning in cats may include increased thirst, diarrhea, confusion, lethargy, seizures, or coma. Of course, if your cat displays symptoms like these, take them to the veterinarian at once. It’s important to treat or remove the toxic substance as soon as possible.

Swallowing Foreign Objects Can Lead to Cat Throwing up Clear Liquid

Unlike puppies, cats aren’t usually prone to eating the remote or swallowing rocks, but their penchant for string or yarn can get them into big trouble, especially in their intestinal tract.

To swallow thread might seem like just an annoying habit, but it can also be a deadly one if the thread becomes tangled around intestinal loops. One of those wire bread ties can quickly perforate tender innards, causing severe infections or even death.

Ingesting “toys” that are not digestible can often block intestines or create other serious problems which require surgical intervention. Your first clue may be the cat throwing up clear liquid.

Example: Cat Throwing up Clear Liquid: Why and What to Do? | Fluffy Kitty

A cat vomiting clear liquid might well have swallowed something that they cannot pass through her digestive system and, as in the hairball scenario, their body is attempting to eject it. Pet parents are wise to keep a very close eye on the toys that kitty plays with. Something as innocuous as a wire ornament hanger from the family Christmas tree can become a deadly diversion.

In order to protect cats from their own habit of hiding symptoms of illness from the world, we must be ever watchful for changes in our feline’s behavior. Pet parents must be very good detectives. We do this by being good observers of our cat’s behavior in happy times so that we can spot a problem quickly if something goes wrong.

It Could Be Cancer

Could a cat throwing up clear liquids mean cancer? Unfortunately, even if it is not the most likely reason, it might.

We never like to use the word “cancer” and “pet” in the same sentence. Come to think of it, we don’t like using the “c-word” at all, but this devastating disease in cats, as well as in humans, is treatable (with early detection).

Symptoms of cancer in cats can be difficult to spot since the disease can be anywhere in the body. If the cancer is located in the kitty’s stomach, the cat throwing up clear liquid would be expected. Sometimes a brain tumor can cause a cat to vomit as well. Other symptoms of cancer in cats include poor appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomit that includes blood.

Depending upon where the tumor is located, chemotherapy may be recommended.

Example: Cat Throwing up Clear Liquid: Why and What to Do? | Fluffy Kitty

Other Possible Causes

There are so many reasons why your cat would be throwing up clear fluid. Here are a few others :

  • A parasite (fairly easy to prevent with a regular Vet check-up)
  • Other metabolic disorders (diabetes, kidney disease)
  • An older cat (as your cat ages, it may become harder to process his food as he may have a more sensitive stomach).

Final Thoughts: Cat Vomiting Clear Liquid

You will probably always be concerned when your pet throws up. It signals something, but kitty almost never tells us what that something is. Like human babies, kittens don’t come with instruction manuals. Hopefully, these tips will give you a bit of comfort now that you know the many things that a cat throwing up clear liquid can mean.

If you still have not figured out the underlying cause of your cat’s vomiting, and the problem does not stop within a day or two, we highly recommend a visit to your vet. They will be able to run some tests and get your cat back on its paws in no time.