How to Make a Cat Throw Up

Gray striped American Shorthair cat laying down and looking at camera.

 Pakin Songmor / Getty Images

Cats can sometimes eat things they shouldn't. Besides household chemicals, common foods, houseplants, and even the contents of your sewing box may all be something your cat tries to eat at some point. While some human food and houseplants are safe for cats to nibble on, many can be toxic. Knowing how to make your cat vomit up what they ate as well as when not to make them vomit can be a key tactic in at-home first aid.

At Home Methods

A common method to make your dog vomit is to administer 3 percent hydrogen peroxide orally at a dosage of about 1 tsp per five to 10 pounds of body weight, but is peroxide safe for cats? While not inherently toxic, giving your cat peroxide, either a pure solution or one diluted with water, may cause more inflammation in your cat's mouth, esophagus, and/or stomach. Peroxide also tends to be less effective in cats than in dogs, so you could be struggling to get the peroxide down and causing extra inflammation without any of the payout.

Other sources may recommend giving your cat a solution of salt water. This has it's own pitfalls, though. Renal (kidney) dysfunction is a common disease process seen in cats, especially elderly ones. Additionally, toxic items, like all lily plants, poinsettias, tulips, and hydrangeas can cause acute renal failure. Part of the job of the kidneys is to filter out the salt in your cat's bloodstream, so adding to that by way of salt water may exacerbate an underlying issue.

Veterinary Methods

Truly, the safest way to make your cat vomit is to have your vet do it. There is an injection your vet can give your cat to induce vomiting called Xylazine. It should be noted that this is a different medication than the one your vet will give your dog to induce vomiting. Within a few minutes of receiving the Xylazine, your cat should start vomiting. Once it is clear there is nothing more that your cat can bring up, there is another medication your vet can give that reverses the effects of the Xylazine. Veterinarians tend to induce vomiting far less frequently in cats than in dogs, though, so ask them if they have this medication in the hospital in case of an emergency so that you can plan ahead.

When Not to Induce Vomiting

If you suspect your cat has gotten into something they shouldn't have, making them vomit might actually might cause more harm than good. There are certain instances when making your cat is not recommended. If it has been more than two or three hours since you suspect your cat ate a toxin, making them vomit won't bring any of it back up anymore as it has likely moved past the stomach.

If your cat has ingest caustic materials, such as bleach, drain cleaner, or petroleum based products you should not make them vomit it back up. By doing so you could cause chemical burns on your cat's esophagus and could even cause your cat to breathe in (or aspirate) the caustic materials. If you suspect your cat at a sewing needle or sewing thread, you also do not want to make them throw up. The needle could puncture the esophagus or mouth on the way back up. Sewing thread has a nasty habit of getting partly stuck in a cat's intestines, allowing the rest of the thread to cut through the rest of the intestines. If you suspect your cat ate thread, making them vomit could potentially cause the thread to cut through your cat's esophagus.

Other times you should not induce vomiting in your cat include if they are already vomiting, if they are weak or unconscious, if your cat has a history of seizures or other neurological conditions, if your cat has a heart condition, or if your cat has had recent abdominal surgery.

Warning

Cats with shorter snouts (such as Persians) should also not be made to vomit as there is an increased risk for aspiration (breathing in) of the stomach contents. If your cat aspirates on her vomit, she can come down with something called aspiration pneumonia.

By and large, dogs definitely are the main offender when it comes to getting into toxins and things they shouldn't be, but that doesn't mean cats don't get into their fair share of mischief either. If you suspect your cat has gotten into something that can harm them, contact your vet immediately. They can advise you on what steps you should take and can make your cat safely vomit if that is the best course of action.