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Why Did My Cat Throw Up Yellow Liquid? 7 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Sophie Herlihy

By Sophie Herlihy

a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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When your cat throws up yellow liquid, it can be scary. But don’t panic! Yellow may look very unnatural, but the color is naturally produced in the digestion process. Yellow streaks are normal in all vomit, but if your cat’s vomit is mainly yellow, there are several possible reasons why,

We’ll look at seven of the most common ones below. So, read on to find out more and hopefully get some answers about what’s wrong with your pet!

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What Causes Yellow Vomit?

You may have noticed that your cat’s vomit is yellow on occasion. You may have even guessed that it had something to do with bile. But what exactly is bile, and why does it make vomit yellow? Bile is a digestive fluid produced in the liver and injected into the gut to help break down food for digestion.

A pigment called bilirubin is what causes the yellow coloration of bile. Bilirubin and the green pigment biliverdin make feces its “famous” brown color. This biology is the same for us humans; when you vomit, you may see streaks of yellow bile.

Vomiting is a natural reaction to gastrointestinal irritation, and when the stomach contents are emptied, it naturally takes some bile with it.

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Top 7 Reasons Your Cat Threw Up Yellow Liquid

1. Empty Stomach

Many things can cause your cat to vomit yellow bile, but the most common reason is simply an empty stomach. When there’s no food in the stomach to break down, the bile becomes concentrated and irritates the lining of the stomach, causing nausea and vomiting.

This is usually seen in the morning since your cat hasn’t eaten since the night before. If your cat only vomits yellow bile occasionally and has no other signs, this is likely the cause.

Tips To Remedy:
  • Feeding them smaller meals more often throughout the day
  • Feed them as soon as you wake up in the morning
  • Consider a timed feeder so they can eat throughout the night or the day when you are away

2. Hairballs

Cats are fastidious groomers and spend much of their time licking their fur. While this keeps them clean, it also means they can swallow a lot of hair. Hair doesn’t digest well and can form into balls, or trichobezoars, in the stomach. The hairballs can cause vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite.

You’ll usually see hair in the vomit if that is the case. If your cat is vomiting yellow liquid and has long hair, a hairball is likely the cause.

Tips To Remedy:
  • Brush your cat regularly because it will help reduce the hair they ingest while grooming
  • Feed them a hairball-formulated diet
  • Regularly offer them fiber supplements or treats
  • Ensure you always have fresh, clean water available for drinking
cat vomiting
Image By: Tunatura, Shutterstock

3. Gastritis

Another common reason for yellow bile vomiting is gastrointestinal issues such as gastritis or inflammatory bowel disease. These conditions can cause the stomach to produce too much acid, which irritates the lining of the stomach and prevents the proper absorption of nutrients.

Acute gastritis in cats is typically marked by vomiting and diarrhea. In most cases, the condition resolves within 24 hours without medical intervention. However, if your cat shows signs of gastritis for longer than 24 hours, it is essential to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine whether medical care is necessary.

Chronic gastritis, however, may take much longer to resolve, if ever. Cats with chronic gastritis may experience vomiting or diarrhea off and on for weeks or even months. If your cat has chronic gastritis, your veterinarian will likely recommend a course of treatment that may include dietary changes, medications, and supplements.

Tips To Remedy:
  • See a vet
  • Change your cat’s diet
  • Restrict food during bouts of illness
  • Digestive supplements

4. Hyperthyroidism

If your cat has been vomiting more than usual and you notice their vomit is mostly yellow bile, they may have hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is common in cats and occurs when the thyroid produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. This overproduction can cause bile build-up, which in turn leads to digestive upset and vomiting.

While hyperthyroidism is generally treatable, it’s crucial to catch it early. If left untreated, it can cause liver damage, heart problems, and even death. So, if you notice your cat vomiting yellow bile, take them to the vet for a check-up.

Tips To Remedy:
  • See a vet
  • Thyroid medication
  • Surgery
  • Dietary changes

5. Acid Reflux/Indigestion

If your cat has started vomiting yellow liquid, it could be due to acid reflux. Acid reflux in cats is caused by a misalignment of the esophageal sphincter, which separates the stomach from the throat. Acid reflux may also be secondary to another internal issue, such as a hiatal hernia.

When this happens, stomach acid can flow back into the throat and mouth, causing irritation. In addition to yellow vomit, other signs of acid reflux include burping, coughing, and difficulty swallowing.

If you suspect your cat has acid reflux, you must take them to the vet for an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, various treatment options are available. With the right treatment plan, your cat can enjoy relief and live a happy and healthy life.

Tips To Remedy:
  • See a vet
  • Medication
  • Avoid trigger foods
  • Weight management
  • Surgery
vet checking bengal cat
Image By: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

6. Liver Disease

Liver disease is a common cause of yellow vomit in cats. The liver breaks down food, produces bile, and filters toxins from the blood. When the liver is diseased, it doesn’t function properly, which can lead to a build-up of toxins in the blood. This can cause a variety of signs, including yellow vomit.

Liver disease is a severe condition that requires prompt medical treatment. If you suspect your cat has liver disease, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Tips To Remedy:
  • See a vet
  • Medication
  • Dietary changes
  • Supplements
  • Lifestyle changes

7. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is another common cause of yellow vomit in cats. Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas is a small organ that helps the body break down food and absorb nutrients.

When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it doesn’t function properly, which can lead to digestive upset and vomiting. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, and in some cases, it can be life-threatening.

Tips To Remedy:
  • See a vet
  • Medication
  • Dietary changes
  • Supplements
  • Surgery


Final Thoughts

If your cat is throwing up yellow liquid, it’s essential to take them to the vet for a check-up. While some causes of yellow vomit are benign and easily treatable, others can be more serious.

By working with your veterinarian, you can determine the underlying cause of your cat’s vomiting and create a treatment plan to help them feel better and live a happy and healthy life.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

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