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How To Clean Up Cat Vomit (Step by Step Guide)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat vomit on the floor

Caring for a cat can seem like you’re living with a wild animal instead of a domesticated pet. Your furniture is shredded, pieces of litter cover the floor, and your blinds are damaged from the animal’s frontal assault. Feline behavior is perplexing to humans, but most issues are only minor irritations. However, a pool of vomit saturating your couch or carpet can disrupt your otherwise happy day. Vomiting is not unusual for felines; hairballs or an upset stomach can cause your pet to spill its lunch.

Promptly cleaning the mess is critical, but what is the best method for removing the stain and smell? We’ll show you the best techniques for cleaning and sanitizing cat vomit stains.

The 4 Steps to Clean Up Cat Vomit:

Although vomiting is not strange for cats, frequent episodes are more concerning. Vomiting can cause your pet to become dehydrated, especially if the cat is not drinking enough water. If your cat vomits often, take the animal to the veterinarian immediately. It’s not pleasant, but you should also take a sample of the mess to the doctor. The vet can examine the contents for clues of the cause and look for signs of blood and unusual colors.

1. Remove the Solids

cleaning cat vomit in carpet
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

Before breaking out the heavy cleaners and equipment, remove as much solid material as possible. Be careful not to force the stain deeper into the carpet. You can use paper towels to gently lift the mess off the surface or scoop it with a shovel or plastic spatula that you do not use for cooking. When only a wet spot remains, dab it with several paper towels to absorb most of the moisture. Contact your veterinarian for a complete examination if you see anything strange in the vomit, such as blood, worms, or unusual colors.

2. Make a Homemade Cleaner

Cleaning spray
Image Credit: polina_tankilevitch, Pexels

You can find several DIY vomit cleaners online, and fortunately, most of them are cheap and effective. Dried-up material that has sat for several hours or days will likely require repeat cleanings to remove the smell and stain. ASPCA’s vomit cleaner is one of our favorite methods, and you probably have most of the supplies under your bathroom or kitchen sink. All you need is:

  • 1 tablespoon of dish detergent
  • 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon granulated salt
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of warm water

Add the granulated salt to the warm water and stir until it dissolves. Then, add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour it into a sprayer and saturate the stain with the solution. Let the liquid sit for five minutes, and then scrub with a sponge or scrub pad. Blot the area dry with paper towels. You’re almost finished, but one final step will remove any lingering odors or stains.

3. Cover the Area with Baking Soda

woman holding a jar of baking soda
Image Credit: Dragon Images, Shutterstock

Baking soda removes unwanted odors from your refrigerator, and it can do the same magic on your couch or carpet. Shake the powder on the stain and leave it for 1 to 2 hours. It should absorb the remaining moisture and look like tiny white clumps before you clean it. Vacuum the baking soda and check for any remaining odor or stain. You may have to repeat the cleaning process for heavy staining and apply another round of baking soda dusting.

4. Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

Cat looking on as human spray cleans carpet
Image By: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

The homemade formula might not eliminate the stain if the mess penetrated the carpet fibers for several days. Although it costs more than standard cleaners, an enzymatic formula is one of the best tools for cleaning pet stains. The solution consumes the odor-causing particles and removes the stain.

Most products need to sit on the carpet for a few minutes before scrubbing, but it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. After the product has had time to work, rinse it with cold water and dry with a fan or hairdryer. If the cleaner did not remove the stain, you could rent a carpet cleaner to give it a professional treatment. However, you will probably not need a carpet cleaner if you use an enzymatic cleaner repeatedly.

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Reasons Why Cats Vomit

Coughing up a hairball is a regular activity for cats, but cats that constantly struggle with hairballs may need veterinary assistance. The vet may suggest using a hairball formula pet food or increasing the number of grooming sessions. Depending on your cat’s coat type, removing loose hair with a brush at least once a week can reduce the number of hairballs. If your pet is coughing up more than hairballs, your only option for resolving the issue is visiting the doctor.

cat vomiting
Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock

Diet Problems

A cat’s stomach issues can be related to its diet. An allergy to the food can cause vomiting, and a veterinarian can prescribe a gentle diet without allergens after a full examination. Some of the most common allergens for cats include:

  • Milk
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Wheat

Consuming Plants or Foreign Objects

A cat’s curiosity often gets the animal in trouble with its pet parents and sometimes even its stomach. When a cat nibbles a plant, much of the plant fiber is not digested, and some may appear in vomit. Cats can also throw up foreign objects like wood, metal, or plastic pieces. Vomiting often removes the object and prevents further complications, but if it does not, the piece can cause an obstruction that the veterinarian must address. To keep your cat safe, you can remove all indoor plants toxic to cats and keep foreign objects like pens or pencils secure in a drawer.

orange cat eating grass
Image Credit: Piqsels


Parasites can also cause your pet to vomit. Kittens are vulnerable to worms when their mother is infected, and adults are more susceptible when they spend time outside and consume dead animals. Whether the diagnosis is roundworms, tapeworms, or hookworms, a doctor can prescribe effective medications to eliminate the tiny invaders. However, a parasitic infection must be treated early to prevent further complications.


It’s challenging to know if your pet is suffering from a bacterial or fungal issue, but vomiting is often a symptom associated with the infections. A urinary tract infection, respiratory infection, or ear infection can cause vomiting, and veterinarians can provide antibiotics and other medications to kill the infection and end the symptoms. Taking a cat in at the first signs of unusual symptoms, like frequent vomiting, can improve the odds of resolving the issue quicker.

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock


Although many medical problems causing vomiting can be resolved with medication, some are more serious and sometimes life-threatening. Chronic illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease or metabolic disorders such as kidney disease, liver failure, or hyperthyroidism can cause vomiting. Cancer is also a possibility, and only periodic trips to the veterinarian can improve a cat’s chances of receiving treatment for a condition before it’s too late.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning vomit is almost as unpleasant as cleaning the litter box, but it’s not difficult when you have effective cleaners, clean water, and plenty of towels. Your pet will throw up from time to time, but excessive vomiting must be treated as a severe condition that requires help from the doctor. Frequent vomiting occurs for many reasons, but your vet can determine the cause after an examination and several tests.

Featured Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

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