Cat Throwing Up White Foam, Lethargic, Not Eating: Reasons and What to Do to Stop the Vomiting

Cat Throwing Up White Foam

It is pretty common for cats to vomit. It is a reality that most cat owners have to contend with. What if you spot your cat throwing up white foam, as opposed to food or water, though? This can scare the hell out of you and leave you with question, is she sick? Cats vomit white foam for many different reasons ranging from gastric problems to hairballs. This page highlights some of the common reasons why cats can puke a white foamy liquid along with symptoms associated with them.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up White Foam?

There is no easy, straightforward question to the question, “Why is my cat throwing up white foam?” since many possible factors may be to blame. The key to effectively honing on the cause of the problem is to pay attention to the symptoms. That way you can be able to determine if home treatment is enough or a visit to the veterinarian will be required. Here are the most common causes of cat throwing up white foam-like substance. As you will see, these are not mutually exclusive:

Running on Empty Stomach

According to, an excess of hydrochloric acid in the stomach may explain why you spot your cat throwing up white foam.

A cat release hydrochloric acid along with gastric juices and bile into the stomach in readiness for food. When food doesn’t arrive as soon as expected, the hydrochloric acid may irritate the stomach lining. As a result, your cat may vomit a white foam. The foam may also have a yellow tinge, as a result of bile, or have a white foamy liquid consistency.

Hydrochloric acid related stomach irritation, and the associated vomiting of white foam is usually seen with a change in feeding schedule. If you wish to implement this, it would help to give your feline companion a healthy snack to chew in the meantime.


Hairballs are another common reason for cat vomiting white foam. Cats get hairballs when they swallow loose hair as they groom their coat. It is hard for cats to digest the swallowed hair. As a result, it accumulates into a hairball in their digestive system.

Contrary to the popular perception, the foam from hairball-induced vomiting doesn’t necessarily have to feature any hair. Hairballs are usually very nauseating. Outdoor cats commonly eat grass to help them to induce vomiting which then brings out the nauseating hairballs. For indoor cats, however, foamy vomit may occur as a result of the hairball. If your cat is repeatedly throwing up white foam, watch out for other signs and symptoms of hairballs to determine if it is really the underlying cause of the problem. These include:

  • A hacking sound – This usually precedes the ejection of the actual hairball from the system.
  • Constipation
  • Decreased desire to eat.
  • Withdrawal – some cats may go to the extent of hiding
  • Exhaustion – the cat may appear lethargic

You should be concerned if the white foamy substance in the vomit is tinged with blood. If that is the case, take your feline companion to the vet for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Gastro-Intestinal Inflammation

Is your cat throwing up white foam and appears lethargic? This could be an indication of gastritis, a term used to refer to stomach inflammation. This can happen when your cat eats something that irritates their stomach lining.

Sometimes foreign objects such as toys. Strings, and plastics. The white foamy substance may be accompanied by blood, and sometimes bile – a yellowish substance. Some condition such as diabetes in cats can also cause gastric distress that culminate in your cat puking a shite foamy liquid.

Gastritis is usually associated with other signs and symptoms such as lack of appetite, lethargy (depression), stomachache, discomfort when picked – shown by hissing or biting – and constipation. If you suspect gastritis as the reason for cat vomiting white foamy stuff, seek veterinarian assistance promptly.

Gastritis Relief

Peppermint tea is touted to help give relief for upset stomach in cats. Steep some peppermint tea in a pot of boiling water, then strain out the leaves. Allow the tea to cool down, then give your cat a tablespoon every few hours.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Related to the previous cause of foamy vomiting in cats is a condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBW). The disease causes various stomach and gastrointestinal problems in the affected cats. Foamy vomiting occurs when unwanted cells invade the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation. Watch out for other symptoms of IBW such as weight loss, diarrhea, weakness, and appetite decline.

Adrenal Gland Disease

Adrenal gland disease is also a likely cause for kitten throwing up white foam. With this disease, cortisone production is hampered. Although it can affect both older and young cats, female kittens tend to be more commonly affected. It is marked by symptoms such as diarrhea, withdrawal (depression), muscle weakness (lethargy), and low blood sugar.


For some kitten, throwing up white foam is an indication of eating excessive food. Because they are typically not used to their diets, kitten often don’t know when to get off the feeding dish. As a result, they often overeat, which then manifests itself in vomiting. The nature of the vomit may range from a white foam substance to a yellow-tinged substance due to presence of bile.

Kidney Disease

According to Dr. Marie Haynes, a veterinarian based in Ottawa, Canada, puking a white foamy substance may be an early sign of kidney failure. Other symptoms to watch out for include an increased desire to drink water, difficulty urinating. If you suspect kidney problems, it is advisable to seek urgent veterinary intervention.

Cat Throwing Up White Foam and Not Eating – When to Be Concerned

Although rare, masses of hairballs can grow too large as to cause your cat frequent nausea and vomiting, not to mention intestinal blockage. This is usually a serious condition for cats. The affected cat also develops declined desire to eat. If your cat goes for 24 hours or more without eating, it is a great idea to seek the attention of your vet right away. This will help prevent a condition known as fatty liver disease, which develops when a cat goes for prolonged period of time without eating.

Other Reasons to Be Concerned About Cat Throwing Up White Foam

Other than your cat refusing for more than 24 hours – which puts her at risk of fatty liver – you will want to consider paying an urgent visit to your veterinarian in the vent of the following scenarios:

  • Your cat vomits more than a couple times per day. This is especially true if vomiting intervals are less than an hour apart.
  • The cat seems to be getting thirsty faster than usual. This could be a sign of kidney toxicity and/or failure.
  • Your cat shows difficulty urinating. This is especially true for male cats which are more predisposed to urinary tract blockage than their female counterparts.

Whatever the underlying cause for the foamy vomit, a general guideline goes: you are better safe than sorry.

References Appetite Loss, Nausea and Vomiting The Most Common Reasons Cats Throw Up…

Pet Health Network: Did Your Cat Eat Something Weird?

PetMD: Fatty Liver Disease in Cats Do Cats Vomit White Liquid Because of Hairballs?


  1. Well, I don’t drive or have lots of money, so reading this is very frustrating. I was hoping as read I would find more than peppermint tea or take him to the vet. I have a piece of peppermint I will try to desolve in boiling water. I took him to the vet and she said he was not constipated although he has had only a small amt of dry stool all week. No appetite,thirst or activity for more than a week. Just white foam except for one time. He ate a little dry food and it came back up a few seconds later, not even chewd.He sat on my lap last night and kept hissing. He didn’t try to run, bite or scratch, just low growling+hissing. I pulled a blanket over both of us and started singing softly, anything that came to mind starting with “Hush little baby don’t you cry, Moma’s gonna sing you a lullaby…”then soft Christmas carols and praise songs. He finally calmed down and fell asleep. The vet gave him a nausea shot the day before and he went right to his food and ate a good amount, but got lethargic+ irritable when it wore off.I’ll see if I can find anything about giving cat’s small amounts of tums or a little nausea med. the Dr. gave to me. First I will pray.I’ve called vet back twice, but only get recording. She drew blood and said she would call the next day, but hasn’t.That was two days ago. Thanks for the info. + God bless you all.

    • I would suggest reaching out to some cat rescue groups near you. Your cat needs medical treatment, weather you have money or not. He sounds sick. Good Luck to him.

    • Seems like your vet is not responding quickly enough to your situation. You should not be getting a recording when you need to talk to a vet NOW…I would go to another vet. It has been too long with a sick cat.

  2. My cat is throwing up a white foam. She is trying to keep the puke down but she keeps gagging. She is puking every 10-20 seconds and she has puked 10 times now I really need alot of help here. ☆★☆★

  3. My 10 year old female has the clear and foamy vomit 2 to 3 Times a day last two days. i have a new kitten in the house for about 5 days however been keeping them apart. Figured maybe the stress of that she has not been eating or drinking as normal. Scared, will take her to vet in am.

  4. My cat is 2 he’s been lethargic for 3 days, he will not eat or drink at all and has been puking up white foam. He also has not gone to the potty in 3 days. I don’t have a lot of money to take him to the vet, any advice would be appreciated

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.