KITTENS

How to Clean Up Cat Vomit: Getting Vomit Smells and Stains Out of Your Carpe

A ginger cat and cleaning products beghind her
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

As humans do, cats vomit too. However, there is a twist to the way cats go about this business of theirs. Unlike humans, cats have not learned how to hold it in till they get to the toilet. That’s why they often have accidents on parts of the house that are very difficult to clean, such as the carpet. But don’t worry—you won’t have to throw your precious carpet out just yet if you know how to clean up cat vomit effectively.

Everyone knows what a hellish task trying to get vomit smells and stains out of carpet is. Of course, you could leave it to the carpet cleaning experts, but these professional services often cost a lot. Why would you want to spend more than $100 when you could handle it yourself?

A woman wearing yellow gloves clening the carpet

You won’t even have to spend the better part of the day scrubbing and washing your carpet if you use certain homemade cleaning solutions that are way more effective than your average detergent at cleansing the stench. No need to consider replacing all your carpeting with hardwood flooring because you can have the carpeting clean and fresh-smelling again just as easily as if your cat had vomited on bare floors.

In today’s piece, we bring you a detailed post on what causes cats to vomit, how to prevent it, and how to clean cat vomit from rug and other difficult-to-clean surfaces.

What Causes Cats to Vomit

Your cat vomiting is not a consequence of a late night out he had with friends the day before. While your cat’s vomiting tendency may look almost like a punishment or an act of spite, your cat really loves you, and there are other actual reasons why he may be puking all over. One or more of these might be the underlying factor in play.

Hairballs

We all love cats because of how clean they are. They keep themselves prim and proper by licking their whole body clean. Well, what’s not so prim or proper about it is that they end up ingesting the hair in the process.

Close-up of a cat and hairballs on the wooden floor

When these hairs get into the stomach, they don’t get digested and pass out normally with the rest of the stool. Instead, the hairs keep accumulating till they form a hairball. This hairball will stop your cat from being able to hold enough food in his stomach. To correct that, the cat vomits the hairballs, alongside other constituents in the stomach at that time.

Food Choices

If you have just recently changed the kind of food you feed your cat, that could be the culprit. Something in the new food could be causing your cat’s stomach/digestive system to react negatively, prompting him to vomit it instead of digest it.

Fast Eating

Eating too fast may cause your cat to vomit. Although cats are generally known to show more restraint while eating than dogs, your cat might come from a background where food was a problem, thus causing them to overeat.

A lovely tri colour cat eating a bowl of dry food

Another psychological stress that could lead to overeating is the presence of multiple cats in the house—prompting one to want to get as much food as they can before the other comes. On any occasion a cat consumes large amounts of food in a relatively short time period, they are bound to throw it back up.

Infections

It will be unwise to rule out medical infection from the causes of vomiting in cats. Any problems along the line of your pet’s alimentary canal can trigger a negative response, causing the cat to throw up all or parts of their food.

Grasses

Cats, like dogs, are sometimes drawn to plants. The plant/grass they have eaten will cause them to vomit. If their throwing up is caused by eating grass, you will be able to tell easily. The grass will not be properly chewed before your cat swallows it, so you will still see some of it in the vomit.

Cat eating grass

Cats sometimes eat grass with the clear intention of making themselves throw up. They do this when they aren’t feeling well, and they believe that throwing up would make them feel better.

Foreign Objects

It is not uncommon for cats to swallow strange objects around the house. These strange objects can range from plastic to cat toys. After swallowing, the cat soon discovers that said object is obstructing their system. Since they can’t digest it, they push it out through the only other possible opening—their mouth.

How to Clean Up Cat Vomit

The color of cat vomit usually follows the color of the cat food (muddy brown in most cases). If you don’t want to spend a lifetime trying to match the color of your cat’s vomit to the rug in a bid to hide stains, here are some tips you’ll find most useful on how to clean cat vomit off carpet.

Step #1: Start Fast

You will want to clean up the vomit the moment you notice it. What your cat throws up is highly acidic, so leaving it will ruin your carpet. Likewise, cleaning it out fast makes sure you don’t compound the problem by allowing the growth of mold in the rug.

A person removing the stain from the carpet

Overall, letting the cat vomit stay as you tend to other chores around the house first means it has more time to set into the rug and more time to do permanent damage to it.

Step #2: Scrape the Bulk

Get some dry paper towels and pick up the bulk of the vomit. Get all the chunks in it with paper towels—taking absolute care to not press the chunks even deeper into the rug. In case the cat’s vomit is very loose, you can scrape the bulk off with a spatula or the back of a kitchen knife. This process will reduce the rate at which the moisture in the vomit seeps into your carpet.

Step #3: Get Blotting

When you have picked up/scraped off as much of the bulk as you can, the next thing you need to do is to start blotting the carpet. With some more paper towels, blot the surface of the carpet where the vomit has spread to. Using multiple paper towels, apply pressure onto the affected surface to get as much of the moisture that has penetrated the rug out.

A woman with pink gloves cleaning the carpet

When carrying out this operation, take care to only dab and not wipe. Wiping will cause more problems, making the stain harder to remove. That is not to mention the fact that the shredded paper towel will leave a mess on your carpet.

Step #4: Spray, and Blot Again

Spray a generous amount of cold water over the affected rug area, then start blotting all over again. While the processes above are to remove as much of the vomit as possible from the rug, this one focuses on moistening some more vomit particles to get them out.

Step #5: Use a Cleaning Solution

You can purchase a commercial cleaning solution if you want, but if you aim to keep the entire process in-house, we have an effective and easy-to-make homemade anti-vomit recipe for you. You need to prepare:

  • 2 cups of warm water

  • 1 tbsp. of salt

  • ½ cup of white vinegar

  • 1 tbsp. of detergent

  • 2 tbsp. of rubbing alcohol

Warm up two cups of water, pour them into a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of table salt to it. Mix thoroughly, then proceed to add ½ cup of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of detergent.

To get out most of the foul smell as well as prevent the formation of mold, you will need to throw in 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol into the mixture. Mix all of these in the same bowl, stirring gently until you get an even solution.

Image of homemade Cleaning Solution with vinegar

Get a kitchen sponge and dip it into the homemade solution. The wet sponge will be used to clean the affected area with gentle dabs and strokes. With each dab and stroke, you will be removing vomit particles that are stuck between the fibers of the rug as well as the stain that has spread over the rug at the same time.

To ensure you are not removing the vomit particles from one end and rubbing them into another end, use different sides of the sponge when stroking the carpet. Should all sides of the sponge get dirty, rinse it off using warm water, then keep working your rug. When you are sure that the stains are largely/totally gone and that there are no more traces of vomit particles stuck between the rug fibers, you can move on to the next step.

Step #6: Use Baking Soda

Spilling ordinary water on a carpet is enough to make it give off a foul smell. Imagine what a cat’s vomit would do to the same rug. Even if you have managed to get the carpet clean and stainless again, the smell will stay unless you take countermeasures. Sprinkling some baking soda on the affected areas will get the job done.

Close-up image of Baking soda (Sodiumbicarbonate) on wooden table

Not only will the baking soda eliminate smell as we have mentioned, but it will also absorb moisture from the inner hairs of the fabric. That helps your rug dry completely and faster.When the baking soda is dry, take that as a job well done. Get a vacuum cleaner and remove all of the baking soda crumbs scattered all over your carpet.

Preventing Your Cat from Vomiting

Cats vomit. That’s just what they do. While it is almost impossible to eliminate the problem entirely, we have some tips here that may help reduce the frequency.

Grooming

Cats like to groom themselves, and as we said, that gets the hair in their mouth. Finding time to groom your cat will greatly reduce the amount of hair that gets into their system.

a woman grooming her cat

Get a specialized brush for this. When you’re free, take the time to brush your cat’s coat carefully. Brush along the natural direction of the hair several times to get all the knots and shed hair out. As a bonus, it also serves as a quality bonding time for you and your cat.

Consult the Vet

Not all cat vomit problems are as simple as hairballs. If your cat starts vomiting out of the blue and you don’t see any hair chunks in it, take him to a vet. There could be a parasitic infection in his stomach, intestines, or along his other alimentary canals.

Monitor Their Feeding

You might also want to reduce how fast your cat gulps down their food if you want to control their vomiting. Serve the food to your cat in small bits for certain time intervals. If you’re not always available to monitor their feeding times, grab an automatic cat feeder and program it to do all the work for you.

Hungry scottish fold cat eating a food on bright background.

In a multiple cat household, separate the feeding areas so that the weaker cat won’t feel threatened by the more dominant cat during mealtimes. You will also want to pay attention to what your cat is eating. If you have recently changed the cat food, that could be the problem. The vomiting might be an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the food they are eating.

All these are preventive measures, so none of them guarantees a 100% success at solving your cat’s vomiting problem. If the problem persists, observe your cat carefully and consult the vet to figure out the cause and how to best tackle it.

Wrap Up

We know that cleaning anything from rugs is usually a delicate task—removing a cat’s vomit from them is even more so because not only will you have to deal with the stain, you will have to deal with the smell as well. With the detailed steps listed above, your carpet should be as good as new in a few hours.

Just remember that at no point should you try to use an unverified cleaning solution to clean your rug. You could end up getting the stain out but ruining the carpet at the same time. While taking care of the carpet, remember to take care of your cat too.

carpet cleaning by womans hand

As much as you don’t like them throwing up on your carpet, remember that they don’t find it amusing or fun either. Perhaps their vomiting is a cry for help, and you should answer their call by taking them to the vet. With this, we wish you a happy, vomit-free cat parenting.

How often does your cat vomit? Does he always do it on hard-to-clean surfaces like the carpet, rug, or perhaps even the bed? If you’re used to dealing with cat vomit, please share your recipes for homemade cleaning solutions or any other useful information in the comments section below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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