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How to Clean up Cat Vomit: Vet-Approved Step-by-Step Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat looking at mess on carpet while owner is spraying on the floor

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Before explaining how to clean vomit up, we would feel guilt if we did not suggest the idea of contacting your veterinarian. If your cat is vomiting, no matter the underlying cause, it can lead to bigger issues.

Below, we will discuss the difference between vomiting and regurgitation so you can know when to be concerned. Then, we will help you treat those pesky vomit stains and inform you about what might cause vomiting in cats. Before explaining how to clean vomit up, the correct thing to do would be to highlight the importance of contacting your veterinarian first. If your cat is vomiting, it means there is something going on, plus it can lead to bigger issues if left untreated.


Vomiting vs. Regurgitation

If your cat has just scarfed down an entire bowl of food, they might suddenly seem ill and hack up an entire loaf just for you. If they don’t start eating it right away, you probably are rushing to the site to clean it up.

Even though this is still a mess that requires immediate attention, this is probably regurgitation. Regurgitation can happen when your cat overeats too quickly and the food comes back up passively, not being digested and with no effort or abdominal contraction. Vomit, on the other hand, tends to be more watery, partially digested, and is preceded by nausea and retching.

Often, with regurgitation, food is still well-formed and not liquid. In either circumstance, you should consult with your veterinarian.

vet listening to a cats chest with stethoscope
Photo Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

See Your Vet

With any new changes in your cat’s health, seeing your vet is a must. Even if your cat is suffering from an upset stomach, you want to ensure you get ahead of the issue. And so, if your cat is truly vomiting and you can’t identify the underlying cause, call to make an appointment today.


How to Clean up Cat Vomit on Carpet or Fabrics

Cleaning up vomit from wood or tile will be relatively easy. All you need is paper towels and a cleaner to remove the mess. However, when vomit gets into the fibers of carpet, it can be very problematic.

Not only is cat vomit a highly unpleasant smell, but it also is incredibly difficult to remove once it adheres to a surface. So, follow these methods to remove the vomit from carpets and fabrics.

1. Use an Enzyme Spray

One of the most effective ways to clean up cat vomit is with an enzyme cleaner, but finding one that works can be challenging. How they work is through a chemical process that effectively neutralizes odors and stains. In most cases, this type of spray will work on carpets, floors, fabrics, furniture – pretty much any surface you can think of!

Not only will it clean up vomit but also drool, urine, and feces. To use it, spray it on a discreet area to make sure it doesn’t alter the color. Then, just spray it on the vomit stain and let it sit for 10 minutes, then blot it with a clean rag and let the area dry.

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2. Mix up a Powerful Cleaner Naturally

  • ¼ teaspoon powerful dish soap
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup warm water

You can put it in an old spray bottle or bowl to apply. Once you have mixed up this concoction, use an old cloth and gently blot the area. Continue to clean the cloth in between until you completely remove the stain. Then, use a paper towel to draw out the liquid in the carpet.

3. Vacuum the Area

No matter which type of cleaner you use, once the area dries completely, it’s time for the vacuum. Make a few passes across the area and remove any remnants. Once you finish up—voila! Mission accomplished.

scared cat looking at the vacuum
Photo Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

4. Wash Other Affected Materials

If your clothes or fabrics are soiled, wash them in the washing machine promptly at the hottest temperature that is safe for the clothes (check the tag inside the clothing if you’re unsure). Cat vomit can be laden with bacteria, and you want to make sure you remove the stain as well as the bacteria.


What Could Cause a Cat to Vomit

You might be wondering what in the world prompted your cat to vomit in the first place. It is important to try to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitating because they are caused by different reasons. You will also need to watch your cat closely for the severity and frequency of the vomiting, as well as for any additional signs of disease. The primary concern if your cat is vomiting and stops eating and drinking is dehydration.

If your cat continues to vomit, they start losing fluids and quickly become dehydrated and very ill. So, regardless of the underlying condition, it’s best to make an appointment with your veterinarian if your cat vomits more than once. This could signal anything from toxicity to long-term health conditions.

Some of these issues may be very temporary and easy to fix, while others will be more complicated, costly, and difficult to treat. We wanted to discuss some of the main things to look for.

1. Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites might be an easy thing to treat, but they can be quite difficult to pin down. After all, if your cat is going to the vet with extreme gastrointestinal upset, it can be a little complicated to find out worms are the only culprit.

With parasites, you can expect other signs like:
  • Dull coat
  • Diarrhea
  • Mucous in stool
  • Bloody feces
  • Appetite loss
  • Pot-bellied appearance

Luckily, if you find out that parasites are the culprit, you can get your cat treatment for them at your vet’s office or over the counter.

2. Viral or Bacterial Infection

Cats are susceptible to several bacterial and viral infections. Thanks to the introduction of vaccinations, many viral infections in cats are avoided entirely or significantly decreased.

Bacterial infections that can cause vomiting in cats include:
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • E. coli

Viral infections, like feline panleukopenia, can be a little more complicated and require hospitalization and sometimes intensive treatment. The good news is that it is usually preventable through common vaccines.

3. Toxicity

Possibly far scarier, another culprit of profuse vomiting could be toxicity of some kind. Toxicity can vary from mild to life-threatening, so prompt treatment is necessary.

Signs of toxicity in cats include:
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizures
  • Heavy breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Unsteady gait

If your cat is suffering from a food or environmental toxin, vet treatment will be necessary.

4. Hairball

It may sound simple, but hairballs sure can be the cause of some vomiting episodes. If this is the case, your cat will probably hack until they pass one of the hairballs, and then they should trot about their merry way.

Long-haired cats and excessive groomers often have more of a problem with hairballs than many others, though any cat can get them.

young cat sitting on wooden table with hairball
Photo Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

5. Constipation

That’s right. Constipation can be so bad that sometimes, it can cause your cat to vomit. If you haven’t been monitoring their bathroom habits, the litter box is a good place to check. They can tell you all sorts of things about your cat’s house, including how often they are going number two.

6. Food Allergy

Food allergies can sometimes cause cats to vomit. That shouldn’t be the first line of thought regarding a cat vomiting profusely, as you want to rule out other acute issues first.

However, a food allergy can severely impact your cat’s overall health. If they have prolonged exposure to an allergen, it can cause them to display a laundry list of signs. They can be pretty miserable.

Signs include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Overgrooming
  • Hairloss
  • Frequent skin infections
  • Dull coat
  • Lack of appetite

If you suspect an allergy in your cat, it’s best to get them in front of the vet immediately so that you can get to the root cause and begin treatment. Cats that have their allergies managed can reduce signs of illness significantly.

7. Endocrine Disease

Your cat can suffer from different hormonal disorders, such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism. These chronic problems can cause a myriad of signs that can affect various organs in your cat’s body.

Since they can impact so much of your cat’s system, side effects depend on the root cause. If vomiting is chronic, speedily get to the underlying cause so treatment can commence.

vet listening to a cats chest with a stethoscope
Image Credit: Andy Gin, Shutterstock



Spending time removing vomit from your carpets and fabrics might be pretty nasty, but it’s a manageable experience. Just a few ingredients you have on hand will combat the smell and swipe the stain.

Generally, vomiting is transient and will soon pass. Your cat might have an upset stomach, or it could also signal a bigger issue. To be safe, it’s best to get your cat to the vet so they can have a routine examination.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin

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