I am an English teacher who teaches at a state university. As a long time cat owner, I've written extensively about feline health issues.
If your cat has a swollen abdomen, also known as ascites, it is important to get them to a vet as soon as possible for an examination and a diagnosis. Cats are very good at hiding illness and will try to keep any sickness a secret.
5 Reasons Your Cat's Belly Could Be Swollen
- Being overweight in general
- Internal Organ Failure
Any of these conditions are potentially deadly for your cat. In order to get the correct treatment plan, you will need to work with your vet on a course of action.
1. Is the Swollen Belly Due to Weight?
If the large belly has appeared over time, it may be due to your cat being overweight. If your cat is older, if it likes to eat a lot, and if it does not exercise, it may end up becoming overweight.
In order to decide if your cat is overweight the vet will look at the overall signs of health in your cat. Is the weight evenly distributed all over the body? Is it obvious that it is fat and not swelling?
An overweight cat can face many health issues that can lead to a shortened life. Overweight cats are more at risk of developing diabetes. They may also face joint issues or bone fractures due to the excess weight. They will have trouble jumping up on beds or chairs and generally feel more lethargic.
- In order to reduce your cat's weight, you will need to work on a weight loss plan with your vet.
- Your vet will also want to measure your cat's blood sugar level to ensure that it is not facing diabetes and will need insulin.
- Helping a cat lose weight usually follows some of the same guidelines as a human: reduce calorie intake and increase exercise. There are many reduced calorie foods out there, including some excellent prescription diets. Encouraging your cat to exercise can be a bit trickier. Finding toys that stimulate the cat or even "treat balls" that make them work for a piece of a treat are great ways to get your cat moving again.
A swollen belly is always a cause for concern, and your cat should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Several health conditions including heart failure, severe infections, cancer, and hemorrhage can result in fluid buildup in the abdomen. These are all serious and life-threatening problems.
— Megan Teiber, Veterinarian at Tuft and Paw
2. Is the Swollen Belly Due to Heart, Liver, or Kidney Failure?
Sometimes your cat's internal organs may fail completely or work at a reduced rate. When this happens the excess fluid may accumulate in the abdomen.
The heart, liver, and kidneys all take part in the circulatory system and the removal of excess fluids and waste. If one of these is not functioning properly, the distended abdomen may be a sign of that issue.
Kidney failure is both acute or chronic. Acute kidney failure can be anything from a blockage in a male cat (a urethral blockage); chronic kidney problems can result from conditions like untreated hyperthyroidism. Special diets will be low in phosphorous and protein. Other symptoms can include weight loss, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
- Once your vet figures out which organ is failing, a treatment plan can be made. While there is usually no cure for any of these issues, with heart and kidney, there are treatment options and medications that might prolong the life of your cat.
- Kidney failure in cats can be treated with subcutaneous fluids and electrolytes. Your vet may also prescribe a medication to help remove phosphorus from its system.
- With heart failure, there are diuretics and heart medications that may help your cat to function better and feel better.
Neither of these treatments is a cure, but rather a way to give you and your cat a little more time with each other.
The best way to provide relief for a cat with ascites is to have the excess fluid drained by your veterinarian. This is a temporary measure, because in most cases the fluid will return until the underlying cause of ascites is addressed. Your vet can also prescribe safe and appropriate pain medications if necessary. Aspirin, Tylenol, and other over-the-counter pain medications for humans are very toxic to cats, so it is important to never give any medications without consulting with a vet.
— Megan Teiber, Veterinarian at Tuft and Paw
3. Is the Swollen Belly Due to Infection?
Another reason that your cat may experience a swollen abdomen is from a virus known as Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). In this disease, swelling of the abdomen is a symptom of the virus which infects internal organs.
According to Pet Health Network, cats that are at risk for this type of infection include those in a multi-cat shelter or household and those who are regularly outdoors. Other symptoms, along with the swelling can be lethargy, a fever, and a lack of appetite.
FIP results from a mutation in the coronavirus and usually affects cats between six months and two years of age. Some clinical trials give us hope for a cure for FIP, so, while it is often fatal, this is not always the case.
- FIP is a very serious disease. If your cat is showing a swollen abdomen due to this virus, it most likely has the most serious form of the disease.
- Once diagnosed, you will work with your vet on a plan for comfort measures such as fluids, pain medications, and antibiotics if there are secondary infections.
4. Is the Swollen Abdomen Due to Cancer?
In the worst-case scenario, the swollen abdomen may be a sign of cancer in your cat. If the swelling is sudden and is not all over, and if your cat is older, it may have developed some kind of internal organ cancer.
I have faced this type of cancer with my own cat, and the only sign that he was facing cancer was the tight and swollen abdomen. He had no lethargy or lack of appetite. If you suspect that your cat has cancer, your vet will most likely do an ultrasound to make a diagnosis.
- With feline cancers, prognoses will vary. Although there are treatment plans available and even chemo for cats, most cats do not actually respond very well to treatment. Available cancer treatments for cats are also very expensive."
- Once your vet has determined that your cat is facing cancer, he or she will likely give you a time estimate and what to watch for. With my own cat, I needed to watch for signs of lethargy and loss of appetite. These would be signs of the cancer spreading. The fluid in the abdomen can also cause breathing difficulties.
- I asked my vet about diuretics, and she informed me that they don't actually work very well on cats with cancer. She did indicate that they can drain the fluid from the abdomen if and when it causes too much discomfort or if he has trouble breathing. Often, though, the fluid can return very quickly.
This symptom of cancer is very hard to watch. My own cat was given several more weeks. While his belly has been very swollen and distended, he has still been eating and moving around although he is more sluggish.
At the time of this writing, it has been four weeks since his diagnosis, and I do notice a loss in appetite, and he continues to sport a round abdomen. While he is an older cat (almost 16), it is hard to have an animal you have loved and taken care of for most of its life go through this.
5. Does Your Cat Have Parasites?
This is the most common reason for ascites in younger cats/kittens. Cats may also become infected by eating flies or cockroaches that carry Isospora cysts. Isospora infections usually cause no problems in adult cats but can cause significant disease in younger cats or kittens. The coccidia may, in fact, destroy the lining of the intestine and could cause mucousy diarrhea. Cats are also at high risk for tapeworms. Symptoms of a tapeworm infection can be subtle. They include vomiting and weight loss. The easiest way to tell if your cat has tapeworms is to look at its feces. Tapeworms often come out of your cat's anus while it is sleeping or very relaxed.
- Have your cat examined at least annually by your veterinarian and include a complete history.
- Have heartworm tests conducted periodically.
- Provide pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat) and fresh, potable water.
- Conduct fecal examinations two to four times during the first year of life and one to two times each year for adults, depending on the pet’s health and lifestyle factors.
- Administer anthelmintic treatment to puppies and kittens starting at two weeks of age repeating every two weeks until eight weeks of age, followed by monthly treatments as a preventive.
Remember that each cat is unique, and each treatment plan should be developed with your vet based on what is right for you, your budget, and your cat.
Anytime you suspect a swollen abdomen, it is important to seek a vet's advice to figure out what is going on with your pet.
Is it normal for a kitten to have a bloated belly?
A swollen stomach is the most obvious symptoms of ascites. That said, a dramatic shift in appetite, weight, body temperature, excremental function, or physical sensitivity on or around the belly could indicate excess abdominal fluid. The most common causes are overeating or gorging, worms (parasites—a standard deworming protocol can help reduce this), and occasionally FIP.
What causes fluid in a cat's abdomen?
Ascites, which is also known as abdominal effusion, is the medical term used to refer to the buildup of fluid in a creature's abdomen. This may cause symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and loss of appetite. A wide variety of causes may be responsible for ascites.
Most Common Health Problems in Cats
|Problem||Signs and Symptoms||Treatment|
Symptoms are usually obvious, and include drooling and abdominal heaving. Vomiting can quickly leave your cat dehydrated, so if kitty continues vomiting or acts ill, call your vet right away. It may help to collect a sample of your cat's vomit and take it with you to the vet.
Feed smaller meals or wet food if vomiting. Offer your cat plenty of fresh clean water. If vomiting continues, you'll need to bring your cat to the vet. Kittens, geriatrics, and diabetics should not be fasted.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Not using the litter box or going in unusual places. Straining without producing urine – this could be serious if it means the urethra is blocked. Excessive and unrelenting licking of the genital area Blood in the urine.
Pain medication to bring relief while your cat heals Removing or pushing the blockage back into the bladder. Changing their diet Encouraging them to drink more water by positioning bowls throughout your home.
Persistent scratching. Patches of hair loss. Flea eggs in your pet’s hair Flea excretions, otherwise known as flea dirt.
Insecticides to treat the home and general areas Use flea-control products designed for cats only
Symptoms of a tapeworm infection can be subtle but may include vomiting and weight loss. The easiest way to tell if your cat has tapeworms is to look at its feces, around its anus and in bedding. Usually tapeworms come out of your cat's anus while it is sleeping or relaxed. If you see small white worms or what look like grains of rice or sesame seeds, your cat likely has tapeworms.
Treatment options include injection, oral, or topical medication. But because cats almost always get tapeworms as a result of swallowing a flea, be sure to handle any flea problems your cat has before tackling tapeworms.
Symptoms of diarrhea are loose, watery, or liquid stool. Depending on its cause, diarrhea can last for a day, a week, or months.
If your cat has diarrhea, offer kitty plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration. Then remove kitty's food for no more than 12 to 24 hours. Take your cat to the vet if he or she still has diarrhea after a day or immediately if you notice vomiting, dark, or bloody stools, fever, lethargy, or loss of appetite or if your cat is straining to defecate. Kittens, geriatrics, and diabetics should not be fasted.
symptoms that may mean your cat has eye problems include watery eyes, tear-stained fur, cloudiness, red or white eyelid linings, gunk in the corners of the eye, squinting, pawing at the eye, or a visible third eyelid.
Unless you know what's causing your cat's eye problems, there isn't much you can do other than call your vet. Eye problems should be considered an emergency so make appointment immediately.
Heartworm is less common in cats and many cats don’t often show outward signs or symptoms. When cats are symptomatic, they will experience bouts of coughing, respiratory problems, and vomiting.
Medication to reduce the inflammatory response. Surgery to remove the heartworms – a very risky procedure for your pet to endure.
Bad breath – could be from other digestive issues as well as gum problems. Changes in the way your cat chews Discolored, red, or swollen gums. Ulcers along the gumline or on the tongue. Loose or missing teeth. Excessive drooling. Constant pawing of their mouth.
Brush your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush at least monthly if not weekly. Use a toothpaste designed for cats Give your cat a chew toy or something that will exercise their teeth and gums Remove tartar before it hardens with regular cleaning.
Obvious limping or a change in the way they walk Not moving at all Avoiding high places or not jumping at all
Depending on the intensity of the fracture, your cat my need a cast, sutures, a splint, or, in some cases, amputation.
Sluggishness, being short of breath, and joint pain are all signs of obesity.
Spaying or Neutering your cat can decrease their appetite Increase their activities, even playing with them for 10-15 minutes a few times each day can help. Cut their overall calories and don’t leave food out.
A general decrease in appetite Unexplained and often rapid weight loss. Vomiting Lethargy and/or sleeping more than usual
Dialysis Kidney transplant.
Lfe-Threatening Myths and Misconceptions About Cats
It’s Fine to Smoke Around Cats.
Secondhand smoke poses a greater risk to cats than it does to people. Cats can suffer from oral cancer and malignant lymphoma as a result of passive smoking.
In fact, research shows that cats are particularly at risk because of their predilection for self-grooming. They also spend more time indoors and closer to carpets. This is where carcinogenic particles linger. There’s also evidence that suggests that cats may be at risk from the nicotine in e-cigarette smoke.
Cats Always Land on Their Feet.
This myth makes many people not worry about cats being in high places, but this is misguided. While it’s true that cats can twist acrobatically in mid-air so their feet land first, they don’t always manage to accomplish this. It depends on the angle and height of their descent.
Cats Only Eat as Much as They Need.
This is absolutely not true. In some countries, obese cats now outnumber their healthy counterparts. Some cats are greedy and will take every chance to eat. These cats go on to suffer the same weight gain issues as people. Overweight cats can go on to have diabetes and arthritis.
Cats That Don't Show Pain Aren’t Suffering.
There are other ways in which cats can be said to be suffering without showing physical pain. For example, a cat might be struggling from a shortness of breath due to the way they’ve been bred. Cats can also go through emotional pain or can have a neurological disorder that does not express itself in the normal ways in which cats show pain.
Cats Only Purr When They’re Happy.
While purring can be a sign of a happy cat, it’s not the only reason they make this noise. Cats will sometimes purr when they’re frightened, unwell, or in physical pain.
20 Cool Facts About Cats
- Cats are the most popular pet in the United States. In fact, there are 88 million pet cats in the U.S.
- There are cats who have survived falls from over 32 stories (320 meters) onto concrete. However, this is obviously not recommended.
- A group of cats is called a clowder.
- Cats have over 20 muscles that help control their ears.
- Most cats sleep 70% of their lives.
- In tigers and tabbies, the middle of the tongue is covered in backward-pointing spines, used for breaking off and gripping meat.
- When a cat grimaces, it is usually "taste-scenting." They can do this because they have an extra organ that, with some breathing control, allows the cats to taste-sense the air.
- Cats can't taste sweetness.
- Evidence suggests domesticated cats have been around since 3600 B.C., 2,000 years before Egypt's pharaohs.
- A cat's purr may be a form of self-healing, as it can be a sign of nervousness as well as contentment.
- Similarly, the frequency of a domestic cat's purr is the same at which muscles and bones repair themselves.
- The technical term for a hairball is a "trichobezoar."
- Female cats are typically right-pawed, while male cats are typically left-pawed.
- Cats make more than 100 different sounds.
- A cat's brain is about 90% similar to a human's.
- Cats and humans have nearly identical sections of the brain that control emotion.
- A cat's cerebral cortex (the part of the brain in charge of cognitive information processing) has 300 million neurons.
- Cats have a longer-term memory than dogs.
- Cats have a lower social IQ than dogs. However, they can solve more difficult cognitive problems when they feel like it.
- Cats are often lactose intolerant.
- "Bites, puncture wounds, and abscesses", John A. Bukowski and Susan E. Aiello, WebVet.com. 2009.
- "Parasites – Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma infection) Epidemiology & Risk Factors". March 26, 2015.
- "Stress and FLUTD". James Kyffin BVSc (Hons) MRCVS. 2015.
Questions & Answers
Question: Over the past month, my cat of thirteen years has developed a distended rock hard abdomen with no loss of appetite, and her bowel movements are normal. Her coat also appears to be matted. Her appearance is that of a full term pregnant cat but she was spayed at eight-weeks-old. Do you have any advice about what this could be?
Answer: It sounds like she needs to be seen by a vet. She may have something simple like worms or something more serious such as a tumor. Get her checked out as soon as possible.
Question: Over the past month, my cat developed a big abdomen below the neck onwards. It's unable to move much, always seems to be very quiet and does not eat much. What could be the problem?
Answer: It sounds like your cat is very sick. I hope you can get it to a vet.
Question: My cat has developed a belly over time, but shows no other symptoms. She has an appointment with the vet next week. Should I take her in sooner?
Answer: If it's slow, it may be something such as overeating. If she is not showing any other signs of sickness, it's probably okay to wait.
Question: I adopted my cat from a shelter about a year ago, when she was nine months old. She's always acted healthy, but she has this unusual, noticeably round belly. She's petite and not overweight. If you touch her belly, it feels spongy and soft, and she's not bothered by it being touched. The size has not changed since her adoption. The shelter said they treat all their cats for worms. Any ideas?
Answer: Cats can easily get worms again. Even if she was treated a year ago, she may have picked up worms again. I would suggest getting a dewormer from your vet and having her dewormed at least yearly. If your cat is small, she might have been the runt of the litter. I have seen some runts that naturally are shaped with a bit of a rounder belly and stunted legs.
Question: Fixed my cat now her stomach is hard as a rock what causes that ?
Answer: This could be worms, gas, or a medical issues. If it continues, have a vet examine the stomach.
Question: We adopted a cat recently. He has a very large stomach but shows no signs of impairment. He eats well, is active and alert. His fur is shiny and he has no fever. Just that belly that almost touches the floor. Should I take him to vet?
Answer: It sounds like he is overweight. I would suggest helping him lose weight by controlling the amount of food or switching to a food that helps control weight. You may want to take him to the vet to rule out anything else. The vet could also give you idea for helping to lose weight in a healthy way.
Question: My 12-year-old cat developed a swollen belly overnight. I'm not sure if he ate all the food for the other cats, but he's skinny, and I noticed it right away. He still has a good appetite. What should I do?
Answer: A sudden swollen belly is not a good sign. I would try to get him to a vet as soon as possible.
Question: Overnight, my cat has become swollen all over his body. Even his face and neck are swollen. He now has a shoulder that looks completely disjointed, and he can barely walk. All of this has happened in the last three days. Any ideas as to what is happening?
Answer: This honestly sounds like an emergency. For swelling that fast, he may have been bitten by something venomous or gotten into some kind of poison. He must be seen by a vet as soon as possible.
Question: My cat has a swollen stomach, is always extremely hungry and eats very fast, is losing weight, looks lethargic and twitches her front legs, tail, and ears often. The vet said there is a mass in her stomach, but we can't afford to find out more. What could be the problem with the mass in my cat's stomach?
Answer: It sounds like the mass in her stomach may be causing her to not digest food properly. It does sound a lot like cancer symptoms but there is no way to know for sure without further vet analysis. It does sound like she is very sick. You might find out if there are some lower cost vet options in your area to see if you could find out more information about the cat's health.
Question: My cat is 8 months old and has had a swollen belly for six months. What could be wrong with him?
Answer: Has he been dewormed? If not you might try that and see if that helps the swelling. Hopefully, he has been seen by a vet and any other conditions ruled out.
Question: My cat has a distended belly and is tight all the way down his body. I've been to the vet two times, and no real answer besides his numbers are going up a little on kidneys, and he has renal problems. Could there be a coating on his kidneys?
Answer: It's so hard when you get no clear answers. There could be cancer that's not readily visible, or that is metastasizing. Continue to watch him. Is he eating and drinking? I think continuing frequent vet visits and tests is also a good idea until you can get an answer one way or another.
Question: My 3-year-old cat has a large mass on his stomach. Can this type of cancer be cured?
Answer: There are more and more advances in treatment of cancer for both humans and animals. You will need to get him to a vet as soon as possible for an evaluation. Your vet will best be able to give you a list of options including: if it is cancer, what types of treatments and surgeries are available, likelihood of survival. Best of luck as you get your cat treated.
Question: My cat of 10+ years has been on a diet of Friskies prime filet. There was no change in behavior, eating habits, or bowel movements. She's maintained a healthy and slim figure for the extended months she's been eating. In the past three days I've been swamped by work so I've been leaving extra in her bowl and now she's developed a tight, swollen stomach. Is it possible for a cat to go from slim to overweight from a week of overfeeding? Should I prioritize taking her to the vet asap?
Answer: I would prioritize taking her to the vet. A week of overeating would not create drastic weight gain. That would take months. She may need an xray or other vet treatment to determine what is going on.
Question: A dog attacked my cat, and I noticed afterward that her butt has blood and the hole became larger. Then a few days later, her stomach started to become swollen. What is the best thing to do?
Answer: She may have an infection from the dog bite. The best thing to do is to get her to a vet for a full exam. They will know what is best. It is likely she may need antibiotics.
Question: I'm not sure of my cat's age exactly, but I do know that he isn't even a year old yet. He was fairly small when I first got him but once he started getting a bit bigger he started to eat a lot and that's kinda when his belly started getting bigger. He acts normal but he does sleep a lot and is only active for maybe 4 hours out of the day and that's always after midnight. Could there be another problem with my cat or is he only overweight?
Answer: Sounds like he just has a few extra pounds. That sounds like normal activity for an adult cat. If you are concerned though, you could take him to your vet. They might also have tips for helping him to lose weight.
Victoria Phillips on August 10, 2020:
My kitten is around 5-6 months old and he use to play and be active but now all he does is sleep. He has lost a lot of weight even though he eats his belly looks bloated and hangs down but the rest of him is really skinny you can see his ribs and spine what could be the reason for this?
[email protected] on November 29, 2019:
Fluid was drawn from our cats stomach to determine if he had cancer results were negative based on your previous answers to others questions could the cancer not be readily visible or metastasizing
Milo's Mama on January 01, 2019:
My boyfriend and i got our 8 month old kitty fixed i tried to follow the instructions the vet gave me but my boyfriend insisted i just let him out to play well we did now its been a week since his vet visit and now his stomach is swollen but its not hard its soft hes notshowing any signs of pain he lays about in the day but plays all night he acts normal like nothings wrong but i dont have money for another vet visit and his stomach is worring me
[email protected] on November 13, 2018:
My cat recently had a sore and swollen belly and had diarrhea for 24 hrs. I was worried as she was in pain and tired so I let her rest and watched her.
Today she is tired, not as tired, and her stool is solid. She has no fever and is back to talking to me in the mornings.
She had just had her vaccination at the same time of the diarrhea so I was thinking it's either that and/or a lizard (mouse) she may have eaten. She is even eating well and normally now. She is not overweight, not aged (about 3) and sleeping again with my dog (her dog) and not hiding because she is unwell.
Sometimes, I feel, we need to watch our dear pets while they are sick, just to see if they got worse and I was picking up her smelly, runny stools out of her litter box and checking what was coming out while this occurred, an awful job but necessary and very stinky!
Ada Marie on November 11, 2018:
My cat was 4 years old when we adopted her. We have had her for almost 14 years. She is petite. Over the last month her belly has been very hard and getting bigger. However I can feel the bones just touching her. She eats and poops, but she is no longer able to jump or find a comfortable position. Her belly is causing her hips to spread. I took her to a vet, who she hated immediately and refused to let him or his assistant touch her. He said we could sedate her and do an ultrasound. But he wasn't very hopeful that he would be able to get an IV in to do that. What should I do? Her belly is getting bigger by the day.
brian on May 02, 2018:
MY cats tummy is bloated is it ASCITES
Lee on March 10, 2018:
My cat just turned 17 y/o and has had a good appetite the past several years i feed her wet food in addition to dry food daily. She’s never been a huge cat now I notice feeling her bones when I rub her, an increase in appetite but she deficated on the carpet which never happened& threw up yellow liquid. The vet felt a mass in abdomen & suspects cancer. I’m awaiting result from blood work. Needless to say I’m heart broken But believing meds or other alternative can help her.
jennifer on January 31, 2018:
My 8 month old vaccinated female cat was spayed about 2 months ago. Ever since then her abdomen has been bloated, and she eats endlessly. She shows no sign of being ill, eats, drinks, defecates normally. Yet it looks like she has a grapefruit size belly. She hasn't gained weight anywhere else, so it's not weight gain. Any ideas?
L C David (author) from Florida on January 06, 2018:
You need to see a vet as soon as possible. If money is an issue there are usually low cost vets in the area. Post on local social media and ask for the best options and get her seen as soon as possible.
Samantha on January 05, 2018:
I can't stop crying i don't know whats wrong with my kitten and i just want her to get better, every time she takes in a breath she sounds like she will throw up she is breathing so hard. Also, her belly is swollen and there is a little bulge of fat underneath.
L C David (author) from Florida on December 22, 2017:
I am SO sorry for your loss. I know how you feel. Take time to grieve. It is important. But don't let it consume you. The loss is hard but remember that the pain is part of all the good times that you had. The cat was loved and cared for and so many cats don't get that. As crazy as it may sound now, getting another animal, especially a rescue, will help to heal your heart. I adopted another siamese mix at the shelter in honor of my beloved cat. I was saving another life in tribute to what an awesome cat he was. Nothing will ever replace the cat you lost but opening your heart to another animal can really help your grief!
[email protected] on December 08, 2017:
In all my life I have never been closer to any other pet like my beloved Tuxedo cat. I lost him to cancer 2 days ago. My grief is so intense I can't eat or function. My heart goes out to all of you for your huge losses.
L C David (author) from Florida on November 25, 2017:
So sorry for your loss. Sounds like he may have had cancer or some other infection. At least his last moments were in the arms of the person he loved.
Sheila Cox on November 20, 2017:
Hi my cat passed away yesterday in my arms !! He was rather old but how old I will never know as he was many of peoples cast offs I take in .. Anyhow he had a very distended stomache and swollen eyes
Jo on October 26, 2017:
My cat has what looks like a thorn hanging out of her stomach any ideas what it will be
L C David (author) from Florida on October 10, 2017:
If it's both of them, could be worms or something like that. The best thing would be to get them to see a vet.
Shumaila Rajput on October 05, 2017:
My two cats have swollen belly
what should I do??
I'm very upset
L C David (author) from Florida on September 28, 2017:
I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes animals pass away for unknown reasons. Something goes wrong and causes them to stop breathing, heart to stop beating etc. Other times they might have gotten into something. Make sure there are no chemicals around that your cats can get into. The bloating after death is just a normal thing that happens after an animal is deceased. I would just say watch your other cats for signs of illness. If they do start acting sick, try to find a vet that can diagnose and treat.
Lysa on September 24, 2017:
Hi, my female cat has suddenly died..i don't know the reason..when i found her body is already bloating, and excess some fluid, and also her eyes has also sticken out. Before that occured, she lived like a normal cat, she had no lethargy and no lack of appetite..i really shocked when i found her was not alive..do u know what illness make her like that??if the illness is because the infection, what should i do because i have other cats??thanks..
Sylvia on August 13, 2017:
Hi , my female cat who was a stray and is about a year old, has an extended swollen belly since I got her. she had health issues due to the fact that she never got food for a long time. She had all her vaccinations, is fixed and had tests done to see if she had any deseases, all negative at the time. However her stools are very soft and yellow all the time and her stomach swollen. She eats and drinks fine but she struggles to jump onto the bed, is verbal lately and lies on her back with her belly in the air. Do I need to take her to the Vet?.
L C David (author) from Florida on June 21, 2017:
While it could be something bad as you know from the article, you might try a simple deworming and see if that helps. There are often low cost vetting options such as as the local shelter or humane society society . A year old cat may have a good chance if she can get whatever is causing the problem. If she is not spayed then she very likely could be pregnant if she has ever been outside. There are also low cost spaying options. Best of luck.
Karen on June 20, 2017:
My female cat who is over a year old has all of a sudden got a bloated belly, she's been her normal self apart from laying down a lot! Shes not pregnant as there is no movement, im not in a good financial place at the mo ... any advice would be great!!
L C David (author) from Florida on December 11, 2016:
It won't hurt to try deworming again. Hope that's all it is!
Velvet Tx on December 10, 2016:
I have a cat. Dnt know age..he showed up at my door..scared me so bad. His eyes were blood red no hair. He disappeared then showed back up a few days later on my step almost dead.. I noticed then he had been thrown into a fire..hence no hair.. I took him in and fed him with a a 10mill syringe
Got him back. I started cleaning the burns and made a salve..I'm a FF/medic so I knew the treatment from working in the burn unit.. 3 mths later he is getting his hair back slowly.. Which I'm amazed with his burns this would even happen..he's amazing. You can tell he was a house cat. So loving and trained.. My issue is his swollen belly. I wormed him. Seem to help a little. Should I do this again.. My vet is amazed he's still alive. He's not fixed ..which I will have done...dnt think he's there yet.. Any advice..
Sherry on November 29, 2016:
I've been searching or answers online all day trying to figure out what's wrong with my Jezebel. She has swollen abdomen, blackening around a few of her teets, and she hasn't had a bowel movement in a few days. She still urinates though. She prefers to drink water moreso than eat, though she will take small bites of food. Are changes in stool habits a sign of cancer as well? I pray to God it isn't cancer cause I can't bear to lose her. She's been with me for almost 14 years. She has a vet appt Thursday and I'm afraid I'm going to drive myself crazy with worry till then.
L C David (author) from Florida on November 04, 2016:
I debated having one of mine drained. The vet said sometimes it comes back within hours. Basically I was comfortable with not putting them down until they seems to be hurting. If you're unsure maybe seek a second opinion from a different vet?
Profe on November 04, 2016:
My 6 year old cat got fatter overnight - always a thin cat, one morning he was fat. He struggled for a few days but now seems used to it. Eating, climbing stairs, laying around a bit more than normal but otherwise okay. The vet thought that we should put him down this week but he doesn't seem to be in any pain. Shall I have him drained? They doubted that it would help and might hurt him. So very strange...ideas?
L C David (author) from Florida on October 23, 2016:
That's the best thing you can do. That will give you the answers. And if it is a worst case scenario you can prepare for that and give them love for as long as you can.
L C David (author) from Florida on October 23, 2016:
Unfortunately this is what happened to my beloved siamese at about the same age. If it is cancer it's very hard to treat in cats. The only way to know for sure is to take it into a vet. Best of luck.
L C David (author) from Florida on October 23, 2016:
So, so hard to go through this. It sounds like Smoochy has lived a good long life full of love. He will pass away knowing that he was loved and you can take comfort in that. Just keep him as comfortable as possible and give him lots of love.
Kristen on October 10, 2016:
My cat Montana has a distended abdomen. Taking him tomorrow to vets. Eating and drinking. No vomit or diarrhea but has lost weight
Sunita on October 08, 2016:
Hi. My cat is above fifteen years old.. N has a swollen abdomen which appeared in one week.. Appetite OK n walking properly. But day by day she is increasing n becoming larger in abdomen only.. Suggest remedies..
mal on September 26, 2016:
Our smoochy of 16 years has ad 1 heart attack back 7 months ago and now developed enlarged stomach due to some intestinal problem ..He has used up his 9 lives ,So i think he is dying but naturally and still happy comes for pats.
i suspect cancer but will take him to the vet if he becomes really crook.
L C David (author) from Florida on April 25, 2016:
Jackie R. It's so hard. I still miss my cat that passed from cancer over two years ago. He was so wonderful and so special. Nothing will ever replace him. Your Babi knows that you love her and she will spend whatever time she has left loving you and being loved.
After my cat passed, I went to the shelter and adopted a "troubled" 4 year old that had issues that made him less than adoptable. I did it as a tribute to my other cat---not to replace him but to know that in honor of him I made a difference and a dent in the staggering population of homeless pets.
Keep your Babi close and help her as she has helped you. It's hard. I know. But it can also be a beautiful part of pet ownership--to help them live peacefully when they are old, sick or both and help them leave us with grace and dignity.
I'll be thinking about you.
Jackie R. on April 16, 2016:
Thank you for writing this article. You just described my almost 16 y/o cat 'Babi' in the last 'worst case' scenario. Im nervous to know what's wrong not sure I can take it. She has been by my side for 16 years since I was a teen. Its because of her I get through the tough days and look forward to the next. I know the time will come but I've tried to do everything to keep her healthy so she can live the longest.
L C David (author) from Florida on October 05, 2015:
If the swelling is relatively quick it's likely a medical condition that needs to be checked out by a vet. Best of luck to your Alley.
claudio on October 04, 2015:
My cat (Alley) developed the same symptoms as Renee, is it fatal?
Alley is about 13 yrs old she does go out but is mainly in the house. I thought maybe she might of eaten something that cause her stomach to swell. Is that possible?
L C David (author) from Florida on March 02, 2015:
So sorry about your cat, Renee. I sent you an email.
Renee K. on February 26, 2015:
My cat, "Bobby-Joe" is part federal and I found her when she was an estimated, 4 days old! I took her in and took care of her with bottle feeding for 6 weeks. She will never go with anyone but myself and has hidden a lot al of her 15 years of life. Bobby-Jo is very lovable with me but is skittish with everyone but the love she gives me is undeniable appreciative thanks. She has developed a very distended abdomen but doesn't seen to have any difficulties with lethargy or lack of appetite. She allows me to squeeze it gently and is very active. My question is , is there anything I cN do at home because unfortunately I'm going thei very hard time Nd absolutely no funds to take her to the vet. I'm not asking for anything but advise so if someone has some to offer I Wilson happily attempt to help my baby. I do not want to put her to sleep forever because she still acts the same as if nothing is wrong. My vet has offered to urbanize at a very reduced rate but I don't think at this time there are enough symptoms. Of. Purse I refuse to allow her to live in pain for Any length of time I just need some advise! Ease help if u can and thank yo in advance. Renee K. My email is.. [email protected] gmail.com or cell is 203-383-9786.
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 05, 2014:
I don't own a cat, but I see a lot of fat cats while delivering the mail. This sheds some new light on why they may be so portly. Great hub!
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 04, 2014:
Good information. I have 3 indoor cats and will keep an eye on them. So far no swollen bellies, just a saggy belly on one of my girl kitties. That sometimes happens to cats who have been spayed and don't play as much as they did when they were younger.
Big belly in stray cat.
Dr. Marie replied:
This is a tough question to answer without being able to examine your cat.
If she has had a large belly like this for 3 months then she is definitely not pregnant as cats only carry their pregnancy for 63 days.
The most common reason for a young cat to have a large abdomen is a condition called FIP. FIP is a virus that is very serious. It can cause fluid to build up in the abdomen and chest. Unfortunately there is no cure for FIP.
Another reason for a big belly in a cat is a tumor in the abdomen, or liver disease.
In any case by far the best thing you can do for her is to have a vet examine her.
---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---
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Roundworms are common among cats, and they are frustratingly easy to transfer from one to another. Most adult cats show no symptoms of the invading creepy-crawlies, but young kittens don't have as much real estate inside to house larger infestations. As the population grows in the kitten's intestines, his abdomen starts to swell.
One sure sign of these freeloaders is dead worms in your kitten's vomit or litter box, but your vet can also examine your kitten's poop for signs of worm eggs. Soon after a few doses of dewormer kill the pests, you'll see their stringy corpses in your pet's litter box.
Distended Stomach Symptoms
A distended stomach can be a nuisance. It usually carries an array of symptoms aside from the bloating.
You may also experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in urine or stool
- Watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of concentration
Treatment will vary with the cause. If there is bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed to control and eliminate the infection. However, if the cause is a tumor or internal bleeding, surgery is generally performed. The fluid needs to be removed to help the cat feel comfortable. Diuretics are also prescribed to help in the excretion of the fluid but they often remove excess body fluid and result in low levels of potassium. Blood transfusions might be required in cases where there is excessive loss of blood.
It's best to shower your pet with love and affection, and follow up with routine vet checks if your cat has been diagnosed with abdominal fluid accumulation.