Why is your cat throwing up clear liquid?


Naturally, it can be alarming anytime you have a cat vomiting. This is especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as dilated pupils, fatigue, or a change in their eating habits. Naturally, this indicates a more severe issue with your cat’s health. But, if the cat vomit is a mostly clear liquid, do you go straight to the worst-case scenario in your head and assume they’re sick? Fortunately, this isn’t always the case. 

Sometimes cat vomit can be clear for a variety of non-harmful reasons. It’s essential to know those reasons, what symptoms to watch out for, and when to take your cat to the vet. So let’s talk about what non-fatal situations can cause your cat to throw up clear liquid and when you should start to worry. 

Reasons Your Cat is Throwing Up Clear Liquid


Unless you have a hairless cat, chances are your cat will experience a hairball at least once in its lifetime. This is because cats groom themselves for a collective 1-2 hours on average each day, and while most of that hair is in minimal amounts and moves through their digestive process quickly, sometimes it can collect in the stomach in the shape of a ball. 

When a cat is coughing up a hairball, it may also throw up some clear liquid along with it. This cat vomit is most likely just fluid from their stomach that followed the hairball when they threw up. This alone isn’t a threatening symptom. If your cat is getting hairballs regularly and throwing them up due to digestive issues, it may be time to take them to a vet and explore other options that will make them more comfortable. This could look like a specific food, medications, or haircut. 

Cat throwing up clear liquid: hairball

If hairballs seem to be the source of your cat vomiting, there are cat foods on the market that are made explicitly with hairballs in mind. Switching up your cat’s diet may help them break down hairballs easier when they do form and stop them from throwing up. Fantastic cat food to try would be Purina Pro Plan Indoor Hairball Management Shredded Blend Turkey & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food. 

Product Recommendation:

Purina Pro Plan Indoor Hairball Management Shredded Blend Turkey & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food. 

Crunchy cat food kibble and meaty, shredded pieces come together for a cat-tastic mealtime experience sure to bring your good girl running to her dish.

The high protein cat food starts with real turkey as the first ingredient and is full of wholesome nutrition for your active cat.

Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics, this indoor cat food helps support your pal’s digestive and immune health.The high protein cat food starts with real turkey as the first ingredient and is full of wholesome nutrition for your active cat.

Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics, this indoor cat food helps support your pal’s digestive and immune health.

This cat food is loved by cats and cat lovers! It has natural prebiotic fiber that helps your cat’s digestive system and assists in breaking down both food and hairballs. When the hair your cat has ingested from their grooming habits ends up as a hairball in their stomach, this can help them pass them in a litter box naturally as opposed to your cat vomiting them up on your floor, couch, or shoes; a win for cats and cat owners alike. 

In addition to feeding your cat a hairball helping food, another way you can minimize the likelihood of hairballs is by routinely grooming your cat. Especially cats with long or thick hair may benefit from regular brushings to help thin out any hair they would otherwise be licking and ingesting with their grooming habits. 

Food and Water 

Sometimes, your cat may throw up liquid due to changes in its eating and drinking routine. This can happen if you change up their diet without easing them into it, and they get an upset stomach as a result. This can also occur if they often eat or drink too much too quickly, throwing up whatever they immediately ingested. On the opposite end of that, if your cat hasn’t eaten lately and is eating a large meal, they may agitate their stomach and throw up a clear liquid that is just stomach acid. 

If you need to change their diet, perhaps to accommodate an influx of hairballs or other health issues, it’s essential to do so gradually. Rapid changes to your cat’s diet can make them throw up clear liquid along with any food they just ate.

Cat throwing up clear liquid: Cat drinking water

An excellent way to ease your cat into a new food is to split the fresh food with the old food in a 1:3 ratio of new food to old food. If your cat handles that well, divide the food half and half the following week, a 3:1 fresh food to old food ratio after that, and finally a full serving size of the new food. 

Gradually changing your cat’s food over a few weeks will give their digestive system time to adjust to breaking down a new food and hopefully reduce the risk of stomach aches and throwing up clear liquid. 

Suppose your cat eats so fast that they barely even chew their food, or similarly drinks so quickly that they hardly take a breath. In that case, it may be beneficial to portion out their full serving size of food into smaller meals throughout the day, so they are less tempted to gorge themselves on an entire amount all at once. You can also get something like the Trixie Cat Activity Feeder or the Lickimat to help your cat slow down and work a little harder for each piece of food. These are both great options depending on your cat’s diet and if they primarily eat wet or dry food. 

The Trixie Cat Activity feeder has multiple places to scatter food, so your cat has to reach around obstacles and pull the food from different compartments. This works best if you feed your dry cat food, as you can place the food around the feeder tray. Younger cats love this because it encourages play and a natural desire to search for food. 

Product Recommendation:

Trixie Cat Activity Feeder

Cats are cleaver and inquisitive animals. Channel their curiosity with TRIXIE’s 5-in-1 Activity Center. This game includes five different modules, each with a game designed to stimulate each of your cat’s five senses.


REDUCES ANXIETY, BOREDOM AND DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. LickiMat allows cats to enjoy an enriched feeding experience by picking food embedded in the surface. The whisker friendly design is perfect for fussy cats…

The Lickimat is great if you feed your wet cat food because you can spread the wet food throughout the grooves of the mat, encouraging your cat to lick out the cat food rather than gobbling up the biggest bite they can. 

Digestive Issues 

If a stomach is present, a stomach ache may happen occasionally. Cat’s get tummy troubles occasionally, just like people do, and generally, they aren’t a reason to worry. However, if your cat is throwing up clear liquid consistently, it’s almost a sure sign that something isn’t right inside of their intestinal tract. For example, they may be allergic to something in their current food, have a foreign body, or have undigested food in their stomach. 

If you have a cat vomiting up clear liquid mixed with blood or is showing other concerning symptoms such as diarrhea, a lack of appetite, or a change in their mood, it could point to digestive issues, and a trip to the vet is in order. A vet should be able to pinpoint the digestive problem and recommend food that fits your cat’s needs or medication to soothe stomach aches. 

Some cats can develop IBS or gastroenteritis, which are relatively easy to remedy with proper medical care administered or advised by a vet. Sometimes, more severe illnesses are at play, causing your cat to throw up clear liquid like cancer, thyroid issues, diabetes, or kidney disease. Typically these more severe health issues only arise in older cats. It’s essential to keep a close eye on your cat when any vomiting starts to happen so you can pick up on other symptoms; deciding when to go to the vet. 


What are symptoms that go along with throwing up clear liquid that may be of more concern? 

If the liquid is more than clear and has blood in it, that is a sign that something more severe could be going on, and you need to take your feline friend to a vet. 

Any time a cat is throwing up regularly, or more than once per week, it’s worth paying extra attention to make sure there’s not a more significant issue at hand. While rare occasions of vomiting don’t always yield immediate action, if your cat is being plagued by frequent vomit, it’s worth being worried. 

When should I call the vet when my cat is throwing up clear liquid? 

If your cat throwing up clear liquid is a one-time occurrence and their mood, dietary habits, and bathroom habits are all still the same, you most likely don’t need to rush your cat to the vet right away. 

If your cat becomes lethargic, uninterested in food, has changed to their eyes, or is throwing up daily, this could be something more severe, and a vet visit is a good idea. A vet can check them out with a routine physical exam that rules out any blockages or changes to the stomach, high temperature, or a sudden weight change. 

Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, if your cat has just thrown up clear liquid along with hair, grass, food, or water, they probably just had an upset stomach and had to get it out. However, if throwing up clear liquid is followed by other symptoms, it’s time to take things more seriously. 

Always call your vet or the closest vet if you’re traveling with your cat, and get them checked out by a professional if you have any concerns. It’s best not to take chances with such special, furry friends. 

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Katy Duncan

Katy Duncan is a writer/content creator based in the Pacific North West. When she's not busy writing captivating content for clients, she's working on her novel or spending time with her feline friend, Merlin Magoo, and her many prospering houseplants.