My cat (approximately 16 years old, short hair, no specific breed, indoor cat) has been vomiting pretty much every day (sometimes multiple times) for almost a month.

She had a scare with her kidneys about 2 years ago (elevated results of urea and creatinine) and has had blood tests regularly since, but her levels fell and have been good ever since.

Her brother passed away a few years ago from stomach cancer, and he showed similar symptoms in the beginning, but when we've taken her to the vets they've done X-ray and ultrasound and, other than a slight thickening of the stomach lining, couldn't see any lumps or anything out of the ordinary. She has also had blood tests and everything looks fine, very good kidney results, no sign of liver issues, no sign of diabetes.

She's been on antacids and laxatives from the vet (as much as we can get in her, she's not good with medications and gets very distressed) but they don't seem to be having any effect. When she's been in to the vets they sometimes give her an anti-nausea injection which stops her being ill for a few days, and then it starts up again. She's also had antibiotics, dewormer, B12 and a steroid injection at various times. Any improvement is only temporary for a few days and then she starts vomiting again.

She's a fussy eater and she gets dry food (Purina One, various flavours), tuna and white fish. Also, occasionally ham. She won't eat much else. She gets sick mostly in the morning and we suspected Bilious Vomiting Syndrome, but she already has food down through the day and gets other regular food throughout the day too, including late at night and that hasn't improved anything.

Most days she might be sick once (and it tends to be thick and dark brown, occasionally with food in or clumps of hair but mostly liquid), but sometimes it's two or three times. She's otherwise eating fine, drinking and urinating a normal amount and pooing regularly (not sure the laxative is making any difference).

The vets seem to be a bit stumped and just keep telling us to give her the laxatives / antacid, but there's obviously something else going on.

The only major change recently is that we were giving her a glycosamine and mineral supplement for arthritis, which we were mixing with milk to get her to take it as it was the only way to guarantee she'd take it all. We ran out of the first course a couple of weeks before she started getting sick and didn't get any more before she got ill, so it's been about six weeks since she had the supplement or any milk.

We're really worried but don't know what else to do. Everything is also complicated by the fact we're in the UK and the country is on lockdown because of the coronavirus, so while the vet is still open it's not easy to get an appointment.

We're waiting on a stronger antacid from the vets and we're going to try to give her exclusively white fish for a few days to see if diet is contributing (but it's the same diet she's been on for years).

Any ideas what it could be or what we could try next? The fact she seems to be in good health (particularly for her age) is what's confusing us as all the things we've seen that fit have a list of other symptoms that she just hasn't got.

  • 2
    "brother had stomach cancer...similar symptoms...thickening of the stomach lining". Thickening of the stomach can be a sign of cancer. Cancers that grow inside the layers of the stomach wall are hard to diagnose, even in humans. If she's like humans with stomach cancer, the lack of stomach motility probably makes it hard for her to tell how much she can eat. Try controlling her portions carefully. Apr 7, 2020 at 4:04

5 Answers 5


NEVER GIVE YOUR CAT MILK. Cats and all other adult mammals are unable to digest lactose, it makes them and many of us ill.

The negative effect of giving milk is most likely stronger than the positive effect of glucosamine and the mineral supplement.

As Elmy say in her answer, if the vomit is dark it might be internal bleeding so you will need to take your cat to the vet for diagnosing and getting treatment of this.

Giving white fish is a good idea and you can use the juice from the white fish and mix glucosamine and mineral supplement into this; to get the juice out of the white fish, you need to do as follows:

Use one of your smallest pots add the white fish (it is best if it has been frozen), add a couple of spoons of water and slowly heat until the water boils. Use a fork to split up the fish so it gets heated evenly; use little heat, you need to keep the water/juice.

You can use a strainer to remove the juice or you can use the fish and juice as it is; cool it down and mix in the glucosamine and minerals hopefully your cat will eat it.

As others mention in the comments, giving only white fish over time is not good, and it will lead to lack of essential nutrients, so you need to go back to normal food after two days even if your cat manages to keep the food down.

  • Yeah, we're really regretting it now... Not sure whether it's anything to do with the current situation or not but it's definitely possible. She loves it and has had small amounts in the past as a treat (or to give her medicine in) but we'd never given her it regularly in as much quantity until now. We're not giving her the supplement again until she is feeling better (if even then) but we will try that if we do, thanks for the tip. Apr 6, 2020 at 7:24
  • If you insist on giving your cat milk, try Lactaid brand milk -- its lactose has already been broken down into more digestible sugars.
    – Doktor J
    Apr 7, 2020 at 18:53
  • Cat-sip is also a version of milk that is safe for cats to consume.
    – ribs2spare
    Dec 8, 2021 at 19:48

First of all, I would pack some of the vomit up and send it to a vet for analysis. Speak to your vet to arrange a swift and efficient handover.

To do this, clean an empty, airtight food container like a small glass jar or Tupperware container. If the container doesn't melt at boiling temperature, rinse it with boiling water to sterilize it (don't forget the lid). Next time your cat vomits, run boiling water over a table spoon and scoop the vomit into the sterilized container. This allows your vet to see if there are things like blood or bacteria present in your cat's stomach.

Apart from that, experimenting with different foods sounds like a good idea. Keep her on one (and only one) type / flavor for 2 weeks and see if things improve. A "sensitive" food might be a good idea.

Please be aware that I'm not a vet. Everything that follows is pure speculation.

To be honest, from your description it sounds like it's not the food causing the problem. Thick, dark brown or black vomit indicates blood somewhere in the upper digestive tract. If the vet cannot find anything in her stomach, it might be in her esophagus instead. Or it might be a leaky vein instead of cancer, so it doesn't show up on an X-ray. We have means to cauterize problematic blood vessels in humans, but I don't know if such a treatment is even possible in a cat.

  • Thanks. I did wonder about getting a sample but the vets have never suggested it, I will next time we speak to them and see what they say. I don't think it's blood, I don't think it's dark enough for that (but I'm not sure), I'll suggest it to the vets though. I don't think it is food that is the issue either but it seems worth a try at this point. Apr 6, 2020 at 7:22
  • 1
    @adaliabooks Trying a Limited Ingredient Diet in conjunction with the recommendation to stick to a single food would be helpful, too. What jumped out at me is the wide range of foods being fed; cats can have sensitivities to specific proteins, and so many are being offered here. The food offered for this suggestion should be simple, with ONE protein source.
    – Allison C
    Apr 6, 2020 at 14:30
  • @AllisonC that's what we're trying now, just limit her to plain white fish and see how that goes for a while. Apr 6, 2020 at 18:27
  • 2
    @adaliabooks I'd strongly recommend against that. Plain white fish isn't properly nutritionally balanced for your cat, and feeding only that could cause additional problems. Use a proper LID food designed for cats, using a basic protein.
    – Allison C
    Apr 6, 2020 at 18:59
  • @AllisonC the problem is that wet cat food has always made her I'll anyway (if she will even eat it). We're going to try some of the special sensitive stuff but she's so fussy I'm not sure she'll eat it... Apr 7, 2020 at 6:53

Food sensitivity is worth ruling out; I found out the expensive way with my cat (also a picky eater who lived on tuna food and was fed white fish daily as a youngster).

After 11 years eating Felix tuna "chunks in jelly" (and Hill's t/d bites), having rejected other brands and other Felix types and flavours, he started, well, blowing chunks - once a month at first, once a fortnight, once a week... until after 8 months of this it became daily, then more than. I was mashing all his wet food so he could absorb it to the maximum and thank god he didn't lose weight. Apart from the vomiting he was his usual mad self.

He had an expensive ultrasound and bloodwork done which revealed a very slight thickening in the small intestine (non-cancerous they said) but nothing else suspicious. The vet had suggested hypoallergenic food at some point which was disgusting and expensive, and he wouldn't touch it. By this time I wasn't thinking clearly about what to do; the vet described the daily vomiting as 'mild' which was beyond frustrating, whilst advising that if it didn't improve the next step would be a laparotomy, slit from belly to throat to investigate.

Eventually my brain kicked in and I tried him with the chicken flavour of the Felix chunks in jelly and the vomiting cleared up overnight, but on a few occasions I could see he was uncomfortable - sitting up licking his lips when he'd been fast asleep, which had been the prelude to the vomiting - and so put him on chicken Felix "as good as it gets". Well, that was it, no more puking except when he bolts his food - touch wood, 13th birthday in a few month's time.

Just wish I'd thought earlier to just try different normal food, wasted nearly a year of his life. Don't know if it's tuna per se he can't tolerate or something in that Felix recipe; for the sake of the carpets I haven't done full testing.

I wish you the best and hope you find a solution for your poor cat soon.


You statement "other than a slight thickening of the stomach lining" sounds like my cat although in her case I was told intestines rather than stomach. She has vomited every couple days for most of her life on every food I've tried, even canned. She started losing weight because it got so bad a few months ago and the vet prescribed oral steroids to put on her food in the morning. She has been doing incredibly well both with keeping food down and has gained the weight back on a pretty low once a day maintenance dose. You might ask the vet if they think that's a reasonable option. I free feed dry food but put the steroid liquid on a portion of canned food in the mornings to make sure she gets it.

  • Interesting, we'll definitely suggest it if the diet restrictions don't help at all. Her brother was on steroids for years after his cancer operation and they definitely helped. Apr 6, 2020 at 18:25

A scan of the cat may indicate a blockage, so the food does not reach the stomach and overflows each day. In our cat (about that age — and she was miserable) there seemed to be no reasonable solution

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