Why Does My Cat’s Vomit Smell Like Poop?

As pet owners, we always strive to keep our furry friends healthy and happy. However, it’s not uncommon for cats to experience occasional health issues that require our attention. One concerning situation is when your cat’s vomit smells like poop. This could be a sign of an intestinal blockage, a serious condition that warrants immediate veterinary attention. In this blog, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for intestinal blockages in cats, providing you with valuable information to help you navigate this situation with your beloved feline companion.

Understanding Intestinal Blockages:

Intestinal blockages occur when a foreign object or material obstructs your cat’s digestive tract. These blockages prevent the normal flow of food, fluids, and waste through the intestines, leading to various distressing symptoms. If left untreated, an intestinal blockage can result in severe complications, such as tissue damage, infection, or even death.

Common Causes

HairballsFrequent vomitingHairball remedies or laxativesRegular grooming and brushing
Foreign objectsVomiting, loss of appetiteSurgical removalKeep small objects out of reach
String ingestionVomiting, diarrheaSurgery to remove the stringKeep strings and thread inaccessible
TumorsVomiting, weight lossSurgery, chemotherapyRegular check-ups and early detection
Intestinal parasitesVomiting, bloatingDeworming medicationClean litter box and food/water bowls

 Diagnostic Methods for Intestinal Blockages in Cats

Diagnostic MethodDescriptionBenefitsLimitations
X-rayUses radiographs to identify blockagesQuick and non-invasiveCannot always identify soft or small blockages
UltrasoundUses sound waves to visualize the intestinesCan detect soft or small blockagesLimited visibility in obese cats
EndoscopyInserts a flexible tube with a cameraCan remove some blockages and obtain samplesCannot reach all areas of the intestines
Barium contrast studyAdministers a contrast agent and X-raysIdentifies the location of the blockageMay require sedation or anesthesia
Exploratory laparotomySurgical exploration of the abdomenCan directly visualize and remove blockagesInvasive and requires anesthesia

 Signs and Symptoms

SymptomDescriptionPossible Cause
VomitingForceful expulsion of stomach contentsHairballs, foreign objects, string ingestion
DiarrheaLoose, watery stoolString ingestion, intestinal parasites
Loss of appetiteRefusal to eat or reduced food intakeHairballs, foreign objects, tumors
Abdominal painDiscomfort or tenderness in the abdominal areaHairballs, foreign objects, tumors
Weight lossUnintentional decrease in body weightTumors, intestinal parasites

Common Causes of Intestinal Blockages:

1. Ingested Foreign Objects:

Cats are curious creatures that love to explore their surroundings. They may accidentally swallow small objects, such as toys, hair ties, string, or even bones, which can cause blockages.

2. Hairballs:

Cats are meticulous groomers and often ingest loose fur during their grooming routine. While small amounts of fur usually pass through the digestive system without issue, larger hairballs can accumulate and cause blockages.

3. Dietary Indiscretions:

Cats have a reputation for being finicky eaters, but some may be tempted to consume items they shouldn’t, such as plastic bags, rubber bands, or other non-food items. These foreign materials can lead to blockages.

Symptoms of Intestinal Blockages:

1. Vomiting:

One of the first signs of an intestinal blockage is when your cat’s vomit has a foul odor resembling feces. This is due to the presence of partially digested food and waste in the blocked intestine.

2. Lack of Appetite:

Cats with intestinal blockages often lose their appetite and may refuse to eat. This could be due to the discomfort caused by the blockage.

3. Abdominal Pain:

Your cat may show signs of abdominal discomfort, such as restlessness, pacing, or vocalizing. They may also exhibit a hunched posture or become unusually sensitive when you touch their belly.

4. Constipation or Diarrhea:

The blockage can disrupt the normal bowel movements of your cat, leading to either constipation or diarrhea. Both can be accompanied by straining, discomfort, and changes in the appearance of feces.

Seeking Veterinary Care:

If you suspect that your cat has an intestinal blockage, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care promptly. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and may recommend diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or ultrasounds, to confirm the presence and location of the blockage.

Treatment Options:

The treatment for intestinal blockages depends on the severity and location of the obstruction. In mild cases, your veterinarian may attempt to induce vomiting or use medications to promote the passage of the blockage. However, more severe cases may require surgical intervention to remove the obstruction. Surgery is often the preferred option when the blockage is causing significant discomfort or when conservative treatments have failed.

Preventing Intestinal Blockages:

Prevention is always better than cure. To reduce the risk of intestinal blockages in your cat, follow these preventive measures:

1. Monitor your cat’s playtime: Keep a close eye on your cat during playtime to prevent them from ingesting small objects that could pose a choking hazard or cause a blockage.

2. Secure trash bins: Ensure that your cat cannot access the

garbage bins or dispose of potentially hazardous items, such as food wrappers or plastic packaging.

3. Regular grooming: Brushing your cat regularly can help minimize the amount of loose fur they ingest, reducing the formation of hairballs.

4. Choose safe toys: When selecting toys for your cat, opt for those specifically designed for feline use, ensuring they are made from non-toxic materials and do not have small parts that can be easily swallowed.

Complications of Intestinal Blockages:

If left untreated, intestinal blockages can lead to severe complications and pose a significant threat to your cat’s health. Some possible complications include:

1. Tissue Damage: The pressure exerted by the blockage can cause damage to the intestinal walls, leading to inflammation, ulcers, or even perforation. This can result in a condition called peritonitis, which is a life-threatening infection of the abdominal cavity.

2. Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance: Persistent vomiting and reduced fluid intake due to the blockage can lead to dehydration. Additionally, electrolyte imbalances can occur, disrupting the normal functioning of vital organs.

3. Intestinal Stricture: In some cases, the presence of a long-standing blockage can lead to the formation of scar tissue, causing a narrowing of the intestinal passage. This condition is known as an intestinal stricture, which can lead to chronic digestive issues and recurrent blockages.

Post-Surgical Care:

If your cat requires surgery to remove an intestinal blockage, post-operative care is essential for their recovery. Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions, but here are some general guidelines:

1. Medications:

Your cat may be prescribed pain medication, antibiotics, or medications to promote healing. Follow the prescribed dosage and administer them as directed.

2. Restricted Activity:

Your cat will need to rest and avoid excessive physical activity during the recovery period. Provide them with a quiet, comfortable space to relax and heal.

3. Feeding and Hydration:

Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet or temporarily restrict food intake to aid in the healing process. Ensure your cat has access to fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration.

4. Incision Care:

Monitor the surgical incision site for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. Keep the area clean and follow any specific care instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups:

After recovering from an intestinal blockage, it’s crucial to schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your cat. These routine visits allow your veterinarian to assess their overall health, monitor any potential complications, and address any concerns or questions you may have.

Remember, as a responsible cat owner, your vigilance and proactive approach play a vital role in maintaining your cat’s well-being. If you notice any abnormal signs or symptoms, including a foul-smelling vomit, contact your veterinarian promptly for professional guidance and assistance.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

1. Can an intestinal blockage resolve on its own?

In some cases, small blockages may pass through the digestive system without intervention. However, it is not advisable to wait for this to happen. It is crucial to seek veterinary care promptly, as intestinal blockages can lead to serious complications that require medical attention.

2. How can I prevent my cat from swallowing foreign objects?

To prevent your cat from swallowing foreign objects, keep small items out of their reach. Store household items such as hair ties, rubber bands, and small toys in secure containers or cabinets. Additionally, supervise your cat during playtime and ensure they have access to safe, cat-friendly toys.

3. Can hairballs cause intestinal blockages?

While hairballs are a common issue in cats, they typically pass through the digestive system without causing blockages. However, larger hairballs can accumulate over time and potentially lead to blockages. Regular grooming and hairball prevention techniques, such as using hairball control diets or oral hairball remedies, can help reduce the risk.

4. Are there any home remedies for treating intestinal blockages in cats?

It is not recommended to attempt home remedies for treating intestinal blockages in cats. Prompt veterinary care is essential to properly diagnose and treat the condition. Professional intervention, such as inducing vomiting or surgical removal of the blockage, may be necessary depending on the severity and location of the obstruction.

5. Are certain cat breeds more prone to intestinal blockages?

While intestinal blockages can occur in cats of any breed, some cats may have a higher propensity for swallowing objects or experiencing gastrointestinal issues. For example, cats with a strong tendency to chew or play with objects may be more prone to blockages. However, every cat should be monitored and provided with a safe environment to minimize the risk of blockages.

Remember, if you have any concerns or notice any unusual symptoms in your cat, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for proper evaluation and guidance.


If your cat’s vomit smells like poop, it’s essential to recognize it as a potential sign of an intestinal blockage. Early detection and prompt veterinary care can prevent complications and ensure your cat’s well-being. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you are better equipped to address this concerning issue. Remember, a healthy and happy cat begins with your attentive care and proactive measures to keep them safe.


Why Does My Cat's Vomit Smell Like Poop? Understanding Intestinal Blockages in Cats

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