My cat is dumb and barfs a lot

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Oliver and Nelly.
I have a new cat, Oliver. He is a turd. He is like a cat version of one of Zoolander’s friends; super pretty and dumb as a rock.

He and I have been negotiating his troublesome eating habits. He often gets so excited about whatever I’ve just fed him that if I don’t sit with him and force him to take digestion breaks every 30 seconds, he just HORFs down food and then HORKs it back up again — which is especially nasty now that I’ve begun feeding my cats organ meats for some meals. Re-barfed ground-up cow livers. MMMM.

Most of the time, sitting with O is no problem. But some days I do need to leave the house and I don’t have time to babysit my idiot cat.

How can I slow down his frenzied eating so I don’t have to napkin up so much cat barf?

I look forward to your help. -Scott

Comments on My cat is dumb and barfs a lot

  1. I’m not an expert by any means, but I’m thinking that he’s wolfing his food down too fast to digest it properly, so you could try feeding him a little bit at a time. Like, a little meat chunk here, take a minute, a few kibble bits there, take a minute, etc. It might give his stomach some time to chill.

  2. My cats have this problem too. I spread the food out with a spoon or something so there aren’t too many chunks they can really scarf down, and then mix it with some broth, so there’s a lot of liquid. This makes it harder for them to eat quickly, too. You can even microwave the food for a couple seconds – if it’s hot, the cat won’t want a ton of it in his mouth at once. I also use very wide, flat dishes instead of a bowl – lets me spread out the food into a thinner layer.
    Hope this helps!

  3. I can offer two suggestions. FIrst we had to put our cats on kibble for Siamese cats because one of my cats tends to be very pukey. Siamese cat food is design for cats that puke a lot. Second a friend of mine used this trick for a cat that ate too fast and it work well for her, put a golf ball in the middle of the dish, it forces the cat to slow down. Good luck.

    • Wow I never knew Siamese cats puke a lot. The cat I have had for 13 years is half siamese and pukes ALL THE TIME. In all these years noone ever told me it could be due to her breed. You may have just changed my life.

      • One day my husband cleaned up after our cat four times in about two hours, he started researching a solution to the pukey problem. He discovered that Siamese cat food works well for a lot of cats. It has certainly worked well for us. There is still the occasional mess to clean up but way less often than before.

    • Whoa, I had no idea about Siamese cats either! One of my cats is half Siamese, and quite the puker. She has gotten much better since we started feeding her smaller quantities a few times a day, and adding water to her food (so she’s forced to lap slowly, rather than wolf it down quickly), but once every few weeks, for no apparent reason, it all comes back up the hatch. I always thought it was due to her anxious disposition–had no idea it was a breed thing!

    • That’s interesting! Of my two cats, the non-Siamese is the one who barfs.
      Every once in a while, she gets so excited about her food that she eats until she pukes, and eats some more. It’s like she’s a Roman kitteh who needs her vomitorium.
      When she’s really going at the food, I find that if I can get her away from it for about a half hour, with play or petting, she’s less likely to puke after she goes back to her bowl.

  4. Tiny Timber yaks after dinner too. Our other cat, Jack, can keep it down, but he eats like a starved dog. So I put racquetballs in my cats’ food bowl. Compared to the bowl size it forces the cats to slow down and work at getting those tasty, tasty morsels. So most of dinnertime is nuzzling the ball around the bowl then chewing. This works best with dry food, though!

  5. Welcome to the wonderful world of limited cat feeding. I’m not sure it’s a behavior that you’ll ever be able to cure. Often, it’s a built-in O GOD SOMEONES GOING TO TAKE MY FOOD reflex. If he’s fed near another cat, try feeding him separately, somewhere else.

    Trick: put a heavy ball in his dish. He’ll have to eat around the ball. They even sell dishes like this, with obstacles built in. Alternately, put the pieces in separate cups of muffin tins. Anything to force him to move around to eat and make access to the food a tiny bit trickier.

    • Feeding them separately could help them slow down, so they don’t think they are competing for food and thus must eat ALL THE FOOD right now.
      I’ve also had luck with switching their food bowl to a less-used room, so they don’t just snack when they come to hang out with us people.

  6. Maybe you could try this feeding special cat feeding station that forces cats to take longer to eat:

    It’s for fat cats, but it could also do the trick for Dumb Oliver. πŸ˜‰

    • Or a feed ball, which is also supposed to be for helping cats lose weight, but also works at just slowing the eating process. But it only works on kibble, not wet food.

      • A feed-ball (like this one: has worked WONDERS for our pukey cat. She’s also very, very lazy, so instead of batting it around playfully, she spends minutes examining the exact orientation of the ball & holes to figure out how to poke it JUST ENOUGH to get some food to fall out. Bonus: it keeps her busy for HOURS and exhausts her mentally, so we make sure to use it whenever we’re going out for the evening, or if I need to sit and work for a while without a kitty demanding tons of attention.

        I’ve also noticed that ours is so motivated to be around people that just staying out of her feeding area is enough to prevent her from gobbling everything up at once, if she’s getting wet food or just a bowl of kibble. I don’t announce the feeding time (I used to actually call “breakfast” or “dinner” – yes, I anthropomorphize), I just put the food down and walk away. She’ll eat what she needs, and goes back for smaller feedings, but won’t take the time to sit down and eat it all at once because she gets lonely.

        • I use these for both of my cats, one is fat and pukey the other is always bored. It solved both problems! The bored one leaps all over the kitchen to roll the balls and the fat one follows behind snarfing up the food! They both get enough to eat (I had to monitor for a few days to be sure!), they get more entertainment and I clean up a lot less puke. Mine don’t get wet food, but the last cat I had did, and I used the spread it thinly on a plate trick with him!

    • I got the cheaper version of this sort of thing, which is a feeding ball. The cats have to bat it around and it dispenses 1 or 2 kibbles at a time. 1 of my cats is really pukey and the feeding ball does help, but it also makes my cats angry.

  7. I’ll second the suggestion of feeding the cats in separate areas. But also, there are several bowl options on the market designed to slow down eating. It’s a common problem in dogs, so most of the bowls are dog-sized, but I’m sure you could find one that works. Spread the food thin in one of those and make him lap it up instead of scarfing it up. Here’s a pretty good selection of those bowls:

  8. Our vet suggested a “diet”. You only allow the cat to have LITERALLY a flouride cup of food a day. Its a measly amount. Tiny. But if we give our cats half the cup at least twice a day, they don’t barf. Now to keep them away from the human food (because for our VERY active cats, it does NOT work. So I feed them two flouride cups a day and feeding time is over in mere seconds)

  9. It’s my understanding that cats do better when they’re able to graze. So, we just put a small bowl out and fill it and she’s able to eat a few bites here and there so there’s not a “omg FOOD” reflex kicking in. Have you tried feeding her that way, instead of set meal times?

    This isn’t fool proof, and sometimes she eats too fast and barfs, but it’s kind of rare now. Good luck!

    • When we first got our cat we allowed him to graze, thinking that he’d eat normally. Turns out he scarfs his food down like it’s going to disappear. Three years later he hasn’t changed. At least he doesn’t usually puke it up.

        • My cat is like this… we figured it was because she was a stray for so long, she developed the habit of eat-food-now-or-it-won’t-be-there-next-time, and it just never disappeared. We also think she might have equated food with love, since she got food from us, then food & love from us, and then got a home from us, plus food and love….soo….yeeeah. She might have issues. But we love her anyways.

    • I second this! My cat used to eat really fast and always seem hungry (and wake me up or bother me around meal time), so our vet said it’s best for them to free feed (always have food left out) so they can eat when they are hungry instead of feeling like they have to gobble it down real fast because they are starving or worried it will not be there later. Since my cat will literally eat everything we put out, we had to modify the free-feed with an automatic feeder + feeding toy. His food comes out automatically at set times of day (little bits multiple times a day), and then he has the option to play for his food in the toy which promotes some exercise and since only a piece or two comes out at a time, takes much longer to eat.

    • We free feed, but still have one cat who MUST be watched while she eats, so it’s not like it even matters. She then eats fast, and lately has taken to throwing up once a week or so. We may have to try a golf ball like someone mentioned.

    • actually it isn’t better for cats to graze from everything I’ve learned. They are carnivores, and as such are more suited to eating within a short period of time then going without. of course, dumb oliver up there is maybe taking the short period of time recommendation a little too seriously… but especially for fat kitties, grazing is bad πŸ™

      • My cats at the moment have to free feed. I give them a set amount in the morning and it lasts all day. One of my younger girls will let me know if they eat a bit more that day, and I’ll put a small handful in if the bowls are empty. I tried doing two different feedings, one in the morning and one at night, but my big guy just will not eat more than a few mouthfuls at a time. I couldn’t even feed him wet food with out leftovers before I got my two girls.

  10. Feeders on timers are good for this when you’re not home. ( I use Petmate Le Bistro Programmable Feeder for my bunny when we go out overnight. ) Something like a five day feeder with a little bit in each compartment sounds like it would work.

    There is also the treat ball option if he would play with it. It forces him to actually take breaks because only a little falls out at a time.

  11. Have you tried putting a rock in the bowl? My in-law’s cat had this problem and the vet recommended putting a medium-sized rock in the bowl on top of the food. The cat had to move the rock around in order to get to everything and it slowed him down enough. Of course, they used dry food so it was less messy. But it’s a thought.

      • We have one like that for our pooch! It *does* actually work because they can’t get a huge mouthful in. And they’re usually referred to as speed bumps, which cracks me up!

      • I am very curious about these, I’m not sure how successful they’d be for us because if my dog-children ever get an inkling that the vessel holding their food is going to cause them grief, they just put a paw under one end and a nose under the other and flip the food onto the floor for easy access. Fat and smart. Sigh…that said, I giggled to myself while scrolling through that list imagining the looks of frustration that would develop if I tried them.

        • This sounds like a perfect situation for a feeder ball. It works with the smart aspect because it’s supposed to be a puzzle and they can’t get it all out at once and it gives them some excercise while they do it.

  12. We adopted a cat whose previous owner (an old lady with dementia) only ever fed him seven pieces of kibble at a time. So, Morris was pretty skinny when he came to us, and his stomach wasn’t used to dealing with lots of food, so he puked a lot. Once my uncle hand-fed him tiny bits of steak for ten minutes, which Morris loved but which he then barfed all over my uncle’s shoes because he was overfull and the steak was more rich than he was used to.

    Maybe until you get Oliver’s pukiness under control you should feed him something more bland than organ meat. Using one of the “slow down, pardner” methods mentioned above should help him get his pacing under control and then you can slowly re-introduce raw meat.

  13. My cat does the same thing when he eats and also when he sees me getting ready to go out anywhere (which kinda sucks when I have to leave for work). So basically I have a cat who walks around the house heaving from the time I get into the shower until I walk out of the door. My vet said that he had a slight food allergy and separation anxiety. So now we have him on blander food and kitty Xanax. And the kicker is that his name is also Oliver.

  14. my cat is eleven and still does this, much less often now and we’ve been free feeding for at least 9 years. that helped most of all but it still happened. now we have dry food down all the time and I put down about a scant 1/4 c of wet food in the morning. so he has plenty and will eat they dry food but only gets excited about the wet food and there isint enough to make him sick. I tried the golf ball thing but it didn’t work for us, I don’t remember why? it seems to me he simply stopped eating…?

  15. Am I the only one laughing hysterically and not trying to be helpful?
    Oh. I guess I am. XD

    That was seriously one of the most funny reader questions I have ever seen on this site. So well worded, I’m chortling again just thinking about HORF and HORK.
    I do however have the same issue with our two babies.
    And it is generally when we didn’t feed them on time and they go “OMG, FOOD!”

  16. My cat does this, too. I attributed it to her having come from a shelter and living a life of not knowing when her next meal might be. The only solution I’ve found is to leave food out all the time and let her graze. It works most of the time. Trouble is that she’s gotten really, really fat. Giving her small portions throughout the day makes her barf, letting her graze makes her fat. I just gave up and let her be fat and happy but I wish there was a better way.

    • Our vet recommended a food ball (as mentioned above) which worked great until our baby started crawling. She can eat whenever she wants as long as she’s willing to put in the physical effort to get the food. And it does slow her down. Except of course when we accidentally kick the ball across the dining room sending food everywhere, but I guess she still has to walk across the room for each piece.

  17. I’ve noticed that OMFG reflex is stronger in newly adopted street kitties. It took over a year for mine to chill and not have to eat her food twice. (She was all for re-eating the kibble, and I let her because it didn’t even look disgested at all.) She takes her time now, but if she gets stressed she does have an occaisional OMFG moment. I didn’t try the rock/ball in food thing, but did give her cuddles before and after she ate, tried to establish a routine, and didn’t make a big deal if she did puke. It seemed to lessen the stress she felt over food.

  18. I know with dogs, you can put heavy balls or large rocks (so they won’t accidentally eat them) in the food bowl so that they have to carefully eat around them, which slows them down. They also have special slow-feeding bowls for dogs. Also…this’ll sound gross, but sometimes my dog will horf things back up into the bowl and then eat them again (and keep them down, the second time) and I figure that’s probably fine πŸ˜› As long as they get down there somehow! But obviously that doesn’t work if he’s wandering off and horfing on the couch, or doesn’t re-eat the puke. (Gross. Gross.)

  19. Our 17-year-old tabby does this, too. Not so much the eating fast, but he definitely pukes a lot. We know it’s not health-related so we just deal with it as best we can. You asked about times when you have to leave the house and can’t sit with your cat. For those times, do you have a room with a hard or tile floor where you could isolate him? This might help with the cleaning up (easier than carpet), but wouldn’t be a good solution for times when you’d be away all day.

    My poor cat’s other issue is litter-box related. He will jump into the litter box, pee in there, then jump out and poop on the floor right beside the litter box. I love him so much, but sometimes I feel like punting him across the house!

    • is your litter box in an open space? If it is in an enclosed are, your cat may be getting confused by the smell and think the whole area is part of the box. We had a similar issue with our cat. One day we completely cleaned out the box, washed it out, vacuumed the surrounding carpet and left no trace of the scent. When we put the box back, there was no question where the litter smell was coming from, and she hasn’t had that problem since. Good Luck!

  20. As a feeder of a Raw diet myself i find, seperating my cats at meals helps prevent any excess guarding as well as allows each cat to eat at their own pace(ie three will eat at a fairly decent pace but our tabby takes FOREVER to eat and is a push over if someone tries to take his meal)

    another thing to try is don’t give him the raw meals fully thawed out. if it’s still cold and half frozen he won’t be able to simply swallow huge chunks. cats and dogs are designed to be able to tear and gulp food, regurgitation is a natural response of their physiology when they over estimate their abilities.

    another thing! lol i saw that you grind up the organs? if possible leave them in as big a piece as possible to make it more work.

    raw food diets are great for cats since they’re obligate carnivores and most commercial cat foods have more grains and starches than actual meat, which is what cats need more than anything. if you haven’t made the switch to full raw you might want to try a bone in meal and see how that goes (whole chicken wings/necks are a good starting point size wise) and definitely check out

    • Also feeding our cats raw food diets–many of the suggestions here, though helpful for others, are for kibble eaters and are not really suitable for wet raw food. We feed our cats together because 1) one cat is picky and slow and we want to make sure she finishes 2) sometimes she picks up the meat and runs under the bed and needs to be watched and 3) it’s faster. We spread out the food very thin in the fast eater’s bowl, put it under the cabinet so he has to scrunch down to eat it, and place a water bowl BY the food, rather than mixing water in. That way he’s distracted every few seconds and moves between the water and the food, rather than still being able to focus on one thing. It has slowed him down a lot. I also recommend giving treats between meals so he doesn’t feel starved and eat random items–we give laxatone in case the barfing is partly due to hairballs.

      • Also, how often do you feed your cat? We feed them twice a day, once before we go to work and once before bed, but you can also split the meals up to feed him right after you get to work as well.

  21. I read somewhere that if you put small bowls of food around the house, in different ares, and at different levels (like on shelves or in a nooks and crannies) use the same amount of food as you normally would, but divide it up. This stimulate’s the cat’s hunting instincts and provides ample time between ingestion for them to calm their stomach while they look for the next bowl.
    I would recommend only doing this with dry food until the cat get the hang of the game, that way you don’t stumble on a dried up bowl of week old wet food later on.
    I’ve also been considering this:
    for my cats. But I would use dry food instead of treats…

  22. Sounds like you’ve got a good grasp of kitty nutrition – now it’s time to make him work for his meal! Do you just feed the organs as supplements? What else do you feed? We feed primarily kibble, so keep that in mind.. We’ve tried a bunch of stuff to slow our food-motivated dogs down that also work for cats – you can use a cookie sheet and spread the food out so they can’t take huge bites. You can also get lots of cat or small dog toys and stuff ’em with food!

  23. One of our cats, a rescue cat, does the scarf and puke. He was a feral for a while (he also eats plastic bags and shreds and eats paper, pudding cups, or anything else he can get at). We feed him smaller amounts of food twice a day and it helps. We also watch for not leaving him alone too long. He pukes up his food if he thinks he’s been abandoned.

    But a lot of these ideas are appealing for dealing with our cats. 3 of them, all with different eating habits, make it more difficult though. Another cat I tried grazing. Until she got fat and the vet informed me she had to stop. Diet food by itself didn’t help. She had to be put on a ration. She will, however, raid any other bowl she can find which results in some interesting cat fights. Gah.

  24. I know that this is a common problem for cats and for many cats it doesn’t mean anything more serious than the fact that they freak out about food. I wanted to give a warning to everyone though. If your cat doesn’t already have a history of vomiting and they suddenly start, or if their vomit looks strange, don’t assume it’s normal. I have one cat that binges and purges like the cat in the story, but my other cat never really vomited. When the second cat started vomiting I let it go a couple of weeks to see if he would stop, but it got worse. We took him to the vet and the told us to change his diet, which we did and it solved the problem for a month. Then he started vomiting blood. It turned out that he has stomach cancer and if we hadn’t caught it he would have had just a few weeks left to live. As it is we can only prolong his life with drugs for a few months, but these next months will mean everything to us. I don’t mean to scare people into thinking their pet has cancer, because vomiting is normal for many cats. Just please pay attention to your cat’s habits and any changes because not all vomiting is normal.

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