How To Induce Vomiting In Cats
Normally, the last thing any owner wants is for their precious feline to throw up. However, in some rare circumstances, getting your cat to vomit can actually be helpful.
If you know your pet has eaten something poisonous, or are worried that something they’ve ingested is causing an obstruction, inducing vomiting could be the best first aid you can give them — it can even save their life.
To help you navigate this tricky world, we’ve put together this brief guide. Below we outline how to induce vomiting in cats, when this should be done, and precautions you should take.
When To Induce Vomiting In Cats
Although it might seem counterintuitive, there are a few circumstances under which you might want to make your cat throw up:
- They have eaten something poisonous
If you have just witnessed your cat eat something you know to be toxic to them, inducing vomiting is usually a good course of action. The following substances you might find around your home or garden are poisonous to cats:
- Human medicines
- Caffeine (coffee tea, or certain sodas)
- Garlic and onion
- Grapes or raisins
- Plants such as aloe, azalea, chrysanthemum, hyacinth, and lily
- De-icing salts (note these can be licked from their paws in cold weather)
- Fertilizers or herbicides
If your cat has eaten something poisonous to them, you can expect them to show symptoms such as salivation, diarrhea, twitching or having a fit, breathing difficulties, inflammation of the skin, or collapse.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet as soon as possible. Bear in mind that unless you saw your cat ingest a toxic substance, these symptoms could be triggered by something else, and it’s not a good idea to induce vomiting.
- Your cat has swallowed something hazardous
Although not poisonous, swallowing certain items around the house can endanger your cat’s health by causing a blockage in their gastrointestinal tract. If this is the case, inducing vomiting can be a wide course of treatment—provided the ingested item won’t do further damage as it comes back up.
Dangerous items that your cat might swallow include:
- Animal bones, or bone fragments
- Dental floss, string, or yarn
- Decorations, including tinsel at Christmas
- Small toys
- Plasti packaging
If you evidence that your cat has ingested either a poisonous or hazardous item, the first thing you should do is call a qualified vet.
Based on the circumstances, they will be able to tell you whether inducing vomiting in your cat is the best course of action.
How To Make A Cat Throw Up
Before you make your cat throw up, seek the advice of your vet if at all possible. Although this was mentioned above, it bears repeating.
In some circumstances, making your cat vomit can actually do them more harm than good.
If your vet gives you the go-head to make your cat throw up, there are a couple of different methods you can try:
- Using hydrogen peroxide on cats
The most common way to induce vomiting in your cat is to give them a dose of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. When ingested, hydrogen peroxide irritates the stomach, and released oxygen foam, which triggers vomiting.
If you attempt this method, make sure you use pure hydrogen peroxide only. Do not use a household product that contains hydrogen peroxide alongside other ingredients, as these are likely to poison your pet themselves.
Administer one teaspoon per five to 10 pounds of body weight orally, and your cat should soon begin to vomit. Some veterinary experts recommend mixing the hydrogen peroxide with water so that it’s more palatable. It’s also a good idea to feed your cat a small portion of moist food before treatment, if they will eat it. The food acts as a sort of ballast, bringing up more of the toxic material.
Keep a close eye on your pet after they have vomited. You should still take them to the vet for a check up even if everything appears normal. If you induced vomiting because they swallowed a hazardous item, keep an eye out for the item in their vomit.
- Using salt to make a cat vomit
If you don’t have any hydrogen peroxide at home, another method is to use household salt (sodium chloride).
To use this method, dissolve one to three teaspoons of salt per 9 fluid ounces of water, ensuring the mixture is properly mixed so salt doesn’t accumulate at the bottom of your container.
Use a syringe to pull up some of the salt water solution. There are no exact recommended doses, but larger cats will generally require more salt water before they vomit.
Next, empty the syringe into your cat’s mouth, aiming for the throat with some pressure. If they do not vomit, repeat the process every 10 minutes. Do not give them more than three doses.
Like hydrogen peroxide, strong salt water acts to irritate your cat’s stomach, hence induce vomiting.
Even if your cat does vomit, check in with your vet as soon as possible after using this treatment.
Although inducing vomiting in your cat can be a viable and helpful treatment option, there are some cases in which you should definitely not make them vomit.
When you speak to your vet, they will tell you not to induce vomiting in these scenarios:
- Your cat ingested poison more than two hours ago: in this case, the poison will already be in their bloodstream, and a different treatment will be required.
- The substance they ingested was strongly acidic, alkaline, or otherwise caustic (eg. bleach).
- The cat is unconscious.
- The animal has a history of seizures
- The cat is a brachycephalic breed (with a short, ‘squashed in’ nose. When these cats vomit, they run the risk of choking.
- Your cat has swallowed something sharp that will hurt them if vomited. In these cases, surgery or laxatives will be recommended by your vet.