Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Yellow Liquid?

Causes of Vomiting Yellow Liquid in Cats

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

A cat throwing up yellow-colored liquid may be an indication of numerous illnesses from indigestion to kidney disease. Yellow-colored liquid is usually consisted of stomach acids and bile, which is often projected because the stomach is empty and its lining is being irritated.

It can be quite scary if your cat is vomiting, especially if you don't know why. Although cats are known to vomit occasionally, it is not considered normal if it happens regularly. Cat vomit often appears foamy and white, clear, brown, pink, or yellow.

Why Do Cats Vomit Yellow Liquid?

Yellow-colored vomit is typically made up of stomach acids and bile. Stomach acids are produced in the stomach lining to aid in digestion. Bile is a fluid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It enters the duodenum (located just past the stomach) to further assist with digestion.

When cats vomit yellow liquid, it's often because the stomach is empty. The acids irritate the stomach lining and cause the cat to vomit. This explains why some cats may vomit when they are especially hungry. However, there are many diseases that cause cats to vomit, so don't dismiss your cat's yellow vomit. In addition, yellow liquid may not only be stomach acid and bile; it could be that your cat ate something yellow in color and is unable to properly digest it.

There are numerous illnesses that can cause a cat to vomit yellow liquid. The following are just some of these:

  • Gastritis (inflammation of the GI tract)
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction (sometimes caused by ingestion of a foreign body)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cholangiohepatitis (liver/gallbladder inflammation)
  • Dietary indiscretion (eating a food that cannot be tolerated by the cat's GI system)
  • Toxin exposure
  • Various types of cancer

What to Do if Your Cat Is Throwing Up Yellow Liquid

If your cat vomits yellow liquid one time and there are no other signs of illness, then it may not be a cause for concern. Watch your cat closely for a day or two to make sure he is eating, drinking, and behaving normally. If your cat stops eating, becomes lethargic, or continues to vomit, contact your veterinarian for advice. Your vet may recommend changing the feeding schedule, feeding a bland diet, or coming in for an exam. If vomiting becomes frequent or your cat appears to be in distress, bring him to the nearest open veterinarian as soon as possible.

Treatment for Vomiting in Cats

If your cat needs veterinary medical attention for vomiting, your vet may recommend diagnostic testing to determine the cause of the vomiting. Potential tests include blood chemistry, complete blood count, electrolytes, thyroid levels, urinalysis, radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound, and more. There are some basic treatments that offer supportive care for vomiting, but additional treatment recommendations may be made depending on the test results.

Supportive veterinary care for vomiting in cats includes anti-nausea medications, subcutaneous or intravenous fluids to restore and maintain hydration, and a bland diet to ease digestion. Some cats can be treated on an outpatient basis, meaning the vet will administer some treatments in the clinic, then possibly send you home with medications to give your cat. Other cats with more severe illness may need to be admitted to the hospital for 24-hour care.

Some cats recover quickly while others need more time. This generally depends on the underlying cause of the vomiting as well as the cat's overall condition. Your vet is the best source for advice when it comes to your specific cat.

How to Prevent Vomiting in Cats

You may or may not be able to prevent vomiting in your cat. Sometimes illnesses occur with no known cause. However, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risks.

  • Bring your cat to the vet for routine wellness check-ups at least once every year (or more if recommended by your vet)
  • Feed a high-quality diet that is rich in meat-based protein and has an AAFCO statement on the label verifying that it is balanced and complete
  • Keep objects that may become foreign bodies out of reach of your cat. This includes strings, ribbons, hair ties, and anything else small and appealing to cats that could be ingested.
  • Keep plants, chemicals, human food, and any other potential toxins out of reach.

Remember to contact your veterinarian in the early signs of illness; delaying can only make things worse. When in doubt, head to the nearest open vet office.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.