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Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Clear Liquid?

Every cat owner knows the signs and sounds of a cat who is about to vomit. Some cats even signal they need help by coming to find you and meowing with a distinct ‘no, no, no’ sound before throwing up at your feet.

Not all cat vomit has substance; sometimes it is see-through and watery. So, why do cats throw up clear liquid?

Your cat is throwing up clear liquid because it is vomiting on an empty stomach. This is a sign that your cat has already vomited elsewhere or has not eaten yet still feels the need to throw up. The colorless fluid expelled is referred to as gastric juices.

A tabby cat hunched on autumn leaves, throwing up clear liquid.

As well as consisting of gastric juices, clear liquid vomit from a cat can be water. Cats can also throw up clear liquid after drinking too quickly, if they have indigestion because of a missed meal, because of a trapped hairball, or when they have gastritis due to dietary indiscretion or disease.

Vomiting, including vomiting of clear liquid, is quite a common occurrence in cats. This is because cats can vomit for a number of reasons ranging from dangerous causes such as poisoning to more innocuous causes like eating too quickly.

If a cat throws up more than once a month, it is best to take it to the vet to be examined for an underlying condition.

Cats Throw Up Clear Liquid When They Drink Too Fast

When cats drink too much water at a time, they may vomit clear liquid. In this case, the clear liquid is simply the water they have just ingested.

Over-distention of the stomach can trigger the vomiting reflex, causing your cat to throw up water shortly after drinking it.

If your cat has a tendency to drink lots of water after eating, they may regurgitate their food as well. In this case, they might be drinking too much because the food is too dry, so you could try giving them a mixture of wet and dry food.

Your cat should always have access to water. If they are without water for a few hours, they may become very thirsty and drink too much too quickly when they do get water.

If you are going out, always make sure that there is more than one water bowl available for your cat. A large pet drinking fountain is the ideal solution.

We recommend the iPettie Tritone. It’s ceramic and easy to clean, has a very quiet pump and if there’s a power cut or the pump fails, your cat can still drink water from the bowl section. Here’s a link to see further information on Amazon.

Place water bowls in different locations around your home. You should also check your cat’s water throughout the day or as soon as you return home.

If your cat is drinking lots of water for no apparent reason, its increased thirst could be the result of a medical condition, and you should take them to see a vet. Kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, and hyperthyroidism can all cause increased thirst. 

Cats Throw Up Clear Liquid When They Eat Too Quickly

Ginger cat eating its dinner too quickly.

Cats who eat their food too fast or too quickly can also throw up clear liquid containing distinct pieces of undigested food. Cats don’t chew kibble or wet meat chunks; they swallow them whole, so you will clearly notice these in its vomit.

The clear fluid of these vomits can be mainly water if your cat drinks straight after eating, thereby distending their stomach further.

The clear fluid can also be gastric fluids. When a cat is eating, its digestive tract prepares to deal with the incoming food.

One of these preparations is to increase gastric juice production to facilitate digestion. Therefore, there are more gastric juices in the stomach as a cat eats.

To stop your cat from eating too fast, you can invest in a puzzle bowl, or you feed them on a cookie sheet or from an ice cube tray.

This will slow down their rate of eating, allowing their gastric juices and stomach to keep pace with the intake of food and also preventing cats from overeating as their brains have time to register their stomachs are full before too much food can be consumed.  

Cats might overeat if they get too hungry. If your cat tends to gorge and then vomit up chunks in clear fluid, you can try feeding them smaller meals more often and leave a small bowl of kibble out for them overnight so that they are not extremely hungry in the morning.

Another reason for cats to eat too quickly is competition. If you have multiple cats who are all guzzlers, then you might need to try feeding them in different areas to minimize the need to eat too quickly.

Cats Throw Up Clear Liquid When They Have Indigestion

When cats get very hungry, such as when they miss a meal, there may be a build-up of gastric juices in their stomach, which irritate the stomach lining and can cause indigestion.

Indigestion can lead to vomiting up of clear liquid. This vomit might also be a mixture of clear fluid and white foam.

To avoid indigestion, make sure that your cat gets fed at regular times. You can also try putting out a bowl of kibble at night, so they can snack when they are up and active at dusk and dawn.

If your cat seems to be battling with indigestion frequently, and this is unrelated to missed meals, take your cat to see a vet. They may have a chronic acid condition that requires medical treatment.

Cats Throw Up Clear Liquid When They Have Gastritis

Gastritis occurs when the lining of your cat’s stomach becomes inflamed. There are many different causes of gastritis in cats, including (but not limited to):

  • Constipation.
  • Dietary indiscretion. This is when your cat eats things that it should not be eating, and it causes gastric upset.
  • Food allergies. You may notice your cat vomits after you give them one particular flavor of wet food. They seem to eat it happily, but then they vomit or regurgitate it along with the clear liquid. Your cat may be allergic to this food, and you should try to identify which food it is and cut it out of their diet.
  • Fungal, viral, and bacterial infections.
  • Medication such as corticosteroids, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories. Although this may seem odd, anti-inflammatories that are used to treat muscular inflammation can cause inflammation in the stomach.
  • Parasites.
  • Spoiled food.
  • Stress.
  • Toxins or poisons.
  • Tumors.
Light ginger cat chewing at a plant which could make it vomit clear liquid.

Cats Throw Up Clear Liquid When They Have A Hairball

Ingesting hair is part of your cat’s everyday life. Meticulous cleaners, cats will groom themselves multiple times a day, using their rough tongues to dislodge loose hairs, which are then swallowed.

This hair generally passes through a cat’s digestive tract with no issues. Occasionally, however, it does not and can build up in the stomach, to form a hairball.

Cats often vomit up hairballs surrounded by clear liquid. Sometimes they throw up clear liquid before a hairball is expelled. Occasionally, it takes a cat few attempts to finally bring up a hairball.

If your cat is regularly throwing up hairballs, or if the process seems painful and distressing, you should take your cat to a vet. Frequent brushing of your cat’s coat will help to minimize the chances of a hairball forming.  

Should I Be Worried If My Cat Throws Up Clear Fluid?

If your cat throws up clear fluid once every few months, then it is unlikely to indicate anything is seriously wrong with your cat’s health.

Cats have sensitive stomachs. If they miss a meal, eat or drink too fast, or eat something that they shouldn’t, such as a poisonous plant or an insect, they might vomit up clear fluid in response. Two consecutive vomiting episodes from these reasons are not uncommon.

If your cat is vomiting up clear fluid a few times a month, then book a consultation with your vet to get them checked out for an underlying disease or condition.

If your cat is throwing up clear fluid acutely, i.e., if they can’t stop throwing up clear liquid, or they are displaying other signs of illness such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy, then take them to the vet urgently.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Clear Liquid? Conclusion

Cats occasionally vomit for seemingly no reason. Such vomiting is unlikely to be a cause for concern. Of course, you should take notices of what occurs at the same time as the emesis episode to ensure there are no signs of anything sinister.

If a cat vomits clear liquid frequently, you should try making adjustments to their eating and drinking routines in case gorging or excessive drinking is the cause. If making such changes doesn’t resolve this issue, take your cat to the vet.

Cats can also vomit up clear liquid due to indigestion resulting from missed meals, gastritis, and hairballs.

When your cat throws up clear liquid, it can be quite alarming. However, to a certain extent, this kind of vomiting is typical in a cat. If any vomiting persists for more than 1 day or presents acutely, take your cat to see a vet as soon as possible.

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