I’m totally losing it

This cat. This cat is killing me. She’s usually pretty good — I got up this morning, gave her a little time, fed her her wet food (she’s very eager for her twice daily serving of wet food, but she also has a bowl of dry food always available), and then she trotted into my office to jump up on the windowsill and demand that I open the blinds, which I did. She curled up there to watch the world go by.

Then the retching began.

I jumped up to shoo her out of my carpeted office. If she throws up on the kitchen tile, it’s an easy cleanup…but on carpet, oh god no. She jumped down and ran off, and I hear that awful “huck, huck, eeewcchh” noise from under the futon. So I slide the futon away, and what do I see? A lovecraftian nightmare.

Apparently, for the last few months, she has been crawling under the futon when I’m not around and vomiting everywhere. There were slimy fresh puddles and caked dried piles. There was filth and cat hair clinging to everything. I’d show you a photo, but you might react as I did: I actually screamed. I started weeping. It’s all just too much.

Now I’ve got to scrub the most revolting floor I’ve ever seen today, and further, I’ve got to move all the furniture in the house to see if she has other treasure troves.

At least it clarifies one thing: I will never ever adopt another cat. It might be because this monster outlives me, but there is no way I’ll ever be persuaded to take responsibility for another mammal. Repugnant, sneaky, nasty creatures. Spiders are a much more dignified and elegant gentleman’s companion.


  1. jpjackson says

    But a spider will never come when you call or play fetch with you the way a cat wi….. Oh, right. Never mind.

  2. says

    If she’s barfing like that, something is wrong. Have you asked your vet? I had a cat who had the same problem years ago. Turns out she was lactose intolerant. I started reading the labels on the food I was feeding her and avoiding lactose and the problem went away.

  3. anxionnat says

    Calm down, PZ. Then call the vet. There’s definitely something wrong, either physical or behavioral. You need professional help to figure out what that something might be–and that professional help comes from a vet. Whether you get along with the cat that you currently share space with is immaterial.

  4. Bruce Fuentes says

    Our beloved family dog is 13 and starting to slow down a lot. When he is gone we are done. I have had dogs most of my life. For me the hardest part will be saying goodbye, but as he gets older he has a need for constant attention and is showing some signs of dementia. Our boys 13 and 10 want another dog after Max passes. Is not going to happen. I am 58 now so if a new dog lives 13 or so years I will be over 70 and the boys will be long gone from the house. Nope. Done.

  5. says


    She’s on a specific diet now. Only other possibility is tranquilizers, because she has other problems, too.

    Now, of course, I can’t take her to a vet for something as trivial as puking, which she’s been doing for years. Also I can’t because my car is dead, not that I have any opportunity to use it, nor can I take it to a mechanic.

  6. says

    PZ you might not even have to take her to a vet. Your vet may be able to diagnose the problem over the phone. Think of it as a project during the quarantine. “Hello Doctor Veterinarian. I need to fix my cat. Can you help me?”.

  7. says

    Please stop telling me to take her to a vet. We have tried.

    Unfortunately, this cat has such deep behavioral problems that vet visits are nightmares. She hates and fears other people. When we took her in for a routine rabies vaccination, it took chain mail gloves and three of us holding her down to get it done. When we have visitors, which rarely happened even before the pandemic, she has to be locked in our bedroom so that no one gets hurt. It was a major concern when our baby granddaughter came to visit, because this cat would claw her at the first opportunity.

    This is a black cat, which are often abused, and a rescue cat with an unknown history. I suspect she was tortured as a kitten. Even now she has weird phobias — for instance, turning on a faucet will send her scrambling from the room (no, we’ve never sprayed her with water from a faucet). She also has episodes where she turns into a snarling ball of fury, clawing and biting at herself.

    This is a fucked-up cat with deep anxiety issues. We try to deal with her patiently and with affection when she’s calm, but taking her out of the house to see other people she’s uncomfortable with is another kind of torture.

  8. anxionnat says

    There are such people as animal behaviorists. I’d suggest you look into one. There may not be such a person in Morris, but my guess is that you could find someone on line. Or your vet could make a referral. You wouldn’t tell a young person who was having hallucinations and behaving weirdly that they were hopeless, would you? She’s your responsibility, whether you like it or not.

  9. says

    You think I haven’t heard of animal behaviorists?

    We have accepted the responsibility of caring for a fucked-up cat for many years now. Do you also expect the parents of severely disturbed children to suck it up and be saints 100% of the time?

  10. anxionnat says

    As a physically disabled person, and as the sister of several disabled kids, I know for a fact (1) that my parents weren’t saints, and (2) when they were out of their depths, they looked for outside help. They didn’t try to do it all themselves. You’ve got a cat with a problem that is either physical or behavioral. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. All I was suggesting was that you look for help.

  11. sparks says

    Hello my friend PZ:
    I’ve kept cats, dogs, most of my life and it never turns out well in that I outlive them all. Had one kitty, Andi, who ended badly because of the same sort of symptoms. She’d eat and drink, but just couldn’t keep anything down. She started losing weight, and turned into a heat fiend: She was cold all the time, couldn’t get close enough to a source of heat. Finally, she stopped using the litter box. She’d pee on the floor right in front of the box, but not in it. It was a living hell for both of us.

    Hated it like I hate Teh Dumbth but it had to be done. Took her to the vet. It was her last ride in the car. And she actually liked riding in the car with me, which is to say the least, unusual but not unheard of for a cat. An Xray showed lots of bright white spots all centered around her GI tract. Cancer.

    Shit happens. It’s the price of being alive. But, she adopted me and for 13 years I took good care of her and she of me. And it gets very little better than that.

    Love them while you have them, and then help them go when it becomes humane to do so. And then go and adopt more, because Sky Daddy knows there are lots of them that need good homes like yours.

  12. cartomancer says

    Cats are much more regurgitative creatures than dogs. While there are medical conditions that induce additional vomiting, much of it is a perfectly normal response to hair building up in their stomachs from grooming. Also over-eating. Our cat retches up a lot more when we give her too many treats – which is often, because we’re a soft touch and she takes advantage something rotten. Cut down the food intake to sensible levels and she stops for the most part. The vet tells us it’s nothing to worry about. I suspect that since yours has both regular feedings of wet food and dry whenever she likes, she is able to gorge and hence needs to deal with it by throwing up.

    All our cats have been a bit like that. Our previous one was worse because she had longer hair and shed it a lot.

  13. says

    One time our cat was sitting next to me on the arm of my recliner when she started retching. I didn’t want her to vomit on the chair or the rug, so I made a tactical decision to place one hand on her back and one hand in front of her mouth. You haven’t lived until you have held a handful of warm cat vomit. Mission accomplished!

  14. davidc1 says

    Yeah ,you are not the only one who s pissed off with cats .Misha ,i had him for fours years ,he was struggling to pass water over the weekend ,two times i found a little dribble of bloody urine in the bathroom basin .
    He would not touch his wet food this morning ,not even a treat .Took him to the vet ,they are not letting people inside ,you phone them up when you are outside and they come and get your pet .
    Anyway ,she came out with bad news ,his bladder was rock hard and he was in a lot of pain .
    He has suffered from bouts of cystitis ever since i first got him .She said it would cost thousands to treat him ,and there was a chance it would only come back .Tried the cat insurance bastards ,no because it was an underlying condition ,bastards ,did i tell you they were bastards .So ,i had to sign for them to put him to sleep ,didn’t want to say goodbye to him ,little bastard had scratched me on Saturday .Ungrateful bastard that he was ,all the money i had spent on him .Plus it was only last week that Callie had to be put to sleep ,more money wasted .

    As you can see my British stiff upper lip is starting to tremble a tad ,and i am trying to deal with it with black humour ,like wot them Monty Python lot did at Graham Chapman’s eulogy ,not really working .Think i will bait some RWNJ’s on faceache .

  15. HidariMak says

    My parents used to have an indoor cat with a preferred puking location. The largest mat they had in their house had tassels at the long ends of it. And whenever this cat started doing its pre-puke routine, she’d always do her best to position her vomit in the one hardest area to clean it out of.

  16. says

    At our house (fondly referred to as the ‘house of hair’ or the ‘mad house’ said with the voice and intonation of a wildly screaming Charleston Heston a la POTA) after a bout of yacking (we have 3 cats) one of us will turn to the other and state in a solemn and serious voice ‘to live (ponderous pause) a cat must barf’ then we nod to each other, rip off the ceremonial paper towel and commence the wiping.

  17. says

    I’m sorry PZ.
    I’ve never had a cat, but whenever I hear cat owners talk they seem to me like stubborn toddlers who never grow up. I’m sure your’e doing your best, I know you’ve written a lot about the saga of Evil Cat and all the things you and Mary have done for her.

  18. robertlfoster says

    Try getting a prescription for the antiemetic Cerenia (moropitant citrate, 24 mg). It’s for dogs but that’s what our vet prescribes for our ‘well vomiting cat.’ It actually works quite well. He instructed us to cut the pill in half. We administer it with a pet piller. She’s a rather docile, well socialized creature so my wife and I can do it without too much difficulty. But from the info. you’ve given about your feline that may not be an option. You could try sticking it in a Greenie. That may work for a while until the cat decides to hell with Greenies.

  19. numerobis says

    My cats regurgitated frequently most of their lives; a few months ago I stopped listening to the vet’s advice of giving them a meal 2-3 times a day (which also didn’t work since one would eat both portions and the other would go hungry), and started feeding them a tiny bit at a time — half a dozen kibble at a time. They regurgitate much less often, the fat cat lost weight, the skinny cat gained weight.

    But it’s not zero and yes, I occasionally find horrors.

  20. hemidactylus says

    Well my dog’s favorite hobby of bark-bombing me sporadically between 2-4am suddenly doesn’t seem that annoying anymore. Could be much worse. I feel fortunate.

  21. Ridana says

    Instead of leaving out the dry food to eat on demand, try making her work for it. Take a plastic soda bottle, cut a small hole in the side just large enough for the size of the cat food bits, add the daily ration and leave it around for her (preferably not where you work). She can roll it around and figure out how to get the food out, so she’ll eat less (and hopefully feel less like chucking it back up) and get some exercise and mental stimulation at the same time. She could just be bored out of her skull like you are. If that helps at all, you could try inventing a wet-food delivery system that makes her solve puzzles or do something more than walking up to the bowl and demanding food. Both of you might enjoy that.

  22. says

    I like the idea of a puzzle feeder — so I went ahead and ordered one. We hadn’t considered her diet, because her weight is stable at a svelte 10lbs, but maybe because of her past trauma she is gorging too much when food is available. Maybe we’re dealing with the cat equivalent of a bulemic.

  23. Becky Smith says

    Cats can be such a challenge! I’ve got a scarf and barfer. Raising her dry food bowl helps some. Good luck.

  24. says

    Our two cats used to barf more when they got just two large meals, much better now with three small serves half an hour apart in the morning. One of the morning serves is a teaspoon of dry food in a box with a paw hole in it. One cat waves its paw frantically in the hole, the other flips and flips its box until it no longer disgorges food. Another serve involves rolling dry food across the wooden floor. Evening meals have been split into two serves, three hours apart. The cats are 12 and 19 years old. Oscar of my avatar pic is the oldest. Deaf, arthritic and slow but still loves food games.

  25. publicola says

    Maybe your cat is bulimic. Maybe it has body image issues. Is it being bullied on social media? Seriously, I think it’s time for the big injection. Sounds heartless, but it’s quick, painless, and after all, it’s just a cat. It’s lose the cat or your sanity–you choose.

  26. magistramarla says

    Our rescue cat is a tripod because when she was found, she was hanging in a fence at the local pool by one front leg. Our grandson, a lifeguard, called Grandma, and $1000 later, we had a three-legged cat. She doesn’t trust anyone, especially my husband, who was the one who took her to the vet to have the leg amputated.
    The two of them have a love/hate relationship. Moving from Texas to California was interesting with three cats in a Prius, but my husband was determined to bring Gigi along. Dax (15) is a wonderful traveler. Leia was frightened, but did fairly well. Gigi was terrified, but we made it to Ca with her.
    All three of them have settled in and seem to really love our new house. It has lots of big windows and they can catch the sun from morning to evening. Our little Gigi still has trust issues, but she is calmer than she used to be and seems to be very happy.
    Some cats just require more patience than others.

  27. livingdeadgrrl says

    for what it’s worth, my vet was very insistent that cat food containing fish is often the cause for vomiting.

    also, if the kibble is coming up whole, your kitty might have dental issues which need addressed. <3

  28. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Puzzle feeder is a great idea.
    We have a rescue cat as well, and she gorges on food. She’s like a dog- you leave any food outside, she’s going to eat it. I left a wrapped sandwich on the table for 3 seconds and when I turned around she was munching on it. Luckily, she doesn’t barf (about two times in almost 4 months that we’ve had her), she just shits a lot :)
    Seriously, she eats all the food ever, and then just shits it out a dozen times a day. She is tiny, has gastrointestinal issues and had spent her first months in a rescue house with more than a dozen other cats – I doubt she could get much food there. So now she eats everything immediately just in case. She has special wet food for her tummy issues, and eats regular dry food. Puzzle feeder isn’t really a necessity but will probably be our next step.
    Good luck to you and Evil Cat!

  29. antaresrichard says

    In our house, I am surrounded by eight of retching critters.
    Actually, I love them all, monster though they be!



  30. says

    Oh and some tinned cat food toxic slop was also bad for our cats digestion. Tins of human grade tuna in spring water, plus a small amount of diced lean meat replaced the preservative laced gunge that made my old kitty real sick. And it smells better.

  31. MadHatter says

    We found as our cats got older we needed to regulate their feedings more because they’d gorge and puke. Then I found that if I gave them dry food, they’d eat and puke right away. Age and whatever else was just catching up.

    I’ve been feeding them decent wet food for a few years now and while they still puke, it’s not as frequently. They also have other health conditions that relate to the puking (which they are medicated for), but nothing is going to stop that. Given how stressy and anxious your cat is that alone could cause it. But the easy fix for the moment is to take away the free-feeding bowl.

    Puzzle feeders are good but my cats worked them out pretty quick and got all the food in only slightly more time than it would’ve otherwise taken. If she does that to you, a timed feeder that gives out only small amounts of dry food can also help.

  32. stroppy says

    FWIW, the vet told me no tuna and no milk for my constantly vomiting cat. Also no grass in that case.

    Cats also have a habit of eating all kinds of harmful stuff, I had to cat-proof my house.

  33. neptis says

    Yeah, cat bulemia aka “snarf and barf” is totally a thing. One of my cats does it with her wet food, so I can only give her small portions of it. There’s also special bowls that will help with slower eating, or puzzle feeders, or just something like a muffin form with many small compartments.

  34. sdeinbinder says

    Cat grass might help; supposedly, eating it helps their digestion (and won’t put you in danger while the cat chomps away).

  35. birgerjohansson says

    davidc1, I am sorry for your loss.
    The two resue cats I have adopted are very shy but otherwise well-behaved. I am resigned to it taking six months Before they are comfortable enough to come forth and touch me.

  36. birgerjohansson says

    When getting cats to dare approach me, I sometimes lay down on the floor, so they can tower above me -especially when they are sitting on a chair or table- and feel not threatened. And I never stretch an arm directly towards them. In many cases this works like a charm.

  37. davidc1 says

    @44 Thanks for your kind words ,i miss Misha coming out to greet me when we come home in the car ,i have a photo
    of him sitting on the top of the car i park next to in the village car park .
    Also he uses to follow me when i went up to my allotment .Don’t know if it is too soon to get another cat ,there is one on the RSPCA that looks a bit like him .I can understand why those rich people who have lost their pets have started to clone their dear pets

    Sooty the only one i have left was shy when i rehomed him ,got him and his brother from the RSPCA ,poor Jet got run over by
    a bastard car driver .My fondest memory of them together ,when i first let them out on their own ,i shook the dry food box and they both came running in ,almost got stuck together in the cat flap ,bloody cats, pain in the bottom when they are alive ,pain in the bottom when they leave you .