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What is Bloating?

Cats are masters at hiding illness until their condition is so severe that veterinary intervention may be too late. When the cat begins to show symptoms such as pain, unexpected weakness, attempting to belch or vomit, or difficulty breathing, it should be taken to the vet immediately.

Bloating in cats is a condition that is potentially deadly. Bloating can develop if the cat has overeaten or had too much water to drink, or may develop as the result of one of several underlying medical causes. If the condition isn’t detected early, it can be fatal because the cat’s organs are being compressed, making it difficult for the animal’s body to function normally. If the bloated stomach gets large enough, the cat may have difficulty breathing. 

Bloating Average Cost

From 424 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Bloating in Cats

Cats usually develop several symptoms that will tip the pet owner off to a major problem. Until the vet knows just what has caused the bloated stomach, knowing the cat’s symptoms helps the pet owner fill the vet in more accurately:

  • Repeated attempts to vomit or belch
  • Swollen abdomen and stomach
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sudden weakness or collapse

If the cat has developed gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), its symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Signs of pain
  • Shock
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Causes of Bloating in Cats

Kittens and cats develop bloated stomachs because of several different reasons:

  • Intestinal parasites (roundworm, hookworm, protozoal parasites)
  • Retaining too much fluid (develops from liver or kidney failure)
  • Overeating (If this is chronic, an underlying disease may be the cause)
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Swallowing too much air while eating
  • Blocked valve at the end of the stomach
  • Gastric dilation and volvulus (stomach twists, then swells)
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

In kittens, bloating can develop from one of these causes:

  • Infection in mother cat’s mammary glands or uterus lead to toxic milk syndrome
  • Improperly mixed milk replacement formulas
  • Spoiled replacement milk or abnormal cat’s milk
  • Too many carbohydrates in kitten food (dry)
  • Congenital defects
  • Viral infections (enteric corona viral diarrhea, panleukopenia)
  • Insufficient good intestinal bacteria
  • Intestinal inflammatory illness combined with beneficial intestinal bacteria
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Diagnosis of Bloating in Cats

The vet conducts a full physical exam of a cat with abdominal bloating and makes note of every symptom. To help the diagnostic process, the vet also takes X-rays, and if the cat is able to use the litter box, the vet takes stool samples and a urinalysis, which help to rule out other illnesses. The stool sample can tell the vet if the cat has intestinal worms or parasites. A complete blood count (CBC) allows the vet to determine whether the cat is suffering from a different illness.

If the vet begins to suspect that an underlying illness has set off the bloating, they will conduct even more testing on the cat to confirm or rule out these conditions, including liver or kidney disease. Even constipation can tip the vet off to other, more serious illnesses, such as an intestinal occlusion (blockage) or tumors.

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Treatment of Bloating in Cats

Treatment of a bloated stomach should begin just as soon as the vet has a solid diagnosis. If the cat simply has too much air or fluid in their abdomen, the vet can decompress the stomach, helping to release the pressure from the gas within. This process also relieves pressure from too much fluid. To decompress the stomach, the vet inserts a needle into the abdomen or places a tube into the esophagus. Relief of symptoms and pain soon follows.

If the cat has gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), the only cure for this condition is emergency surgery. The surgeon physically straightens the stomach out. During surgery, the surgeon should closely inspect the stomach to make sure no other injuries have taken place. Once the cat has suffered GDV, it is vulnerable to repeat incidences. For this reason, the vet may attach the stomach to the wall of the abdomen, reducing the risk of a future twisting event.

Bloating that develops as a result of intestinal parasites can be treated with the right deworming medication. If the cat or kitten has protozoal parasites, it will need a different medication to eradicate this infestation.

Panleukopenia and diarrhea caused by the enteric coronavirus can be treated, though the prognosis for a cat or kitten with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is not as positive.

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Recovery of Bloating in Cats

When a cat’s bloated stomach is the result of overeating, intestinal worms or parasites, the cat should recover well and resume living a normal, happy life. Cats with worms or parasites may need to receive preventive treatments to avoid a new infestation that could cause future episodes of bloating.

The cat’s owner should change some daily routines and keep a close eye on the cat as well. Overeating can make the cat’s stomach larger, which allows them to pack in more food than it needs. This makes a future bloating episode more likely. Knowing this, the pet owner should provide the cat with several smaller meals throughout the day instead of giving only two or three larger meals.

Physical activity after meals should also be limited. Allowing the cat time to digest its meal reduces the chance of more bloating or even an incidence of GDV. Running around and chasing a companion dog or cat means the cat’s full stomach swings like a pendulum inside the abdomen, which increases the chances of it twisting.

If cats are allowed to roam outside, they may scavenge food from other sources, such as garbage cans. The new food may cause intestinal symptoms, gas and bloating. If the cat’s owner knows the cat has a tendency to do this, the cat should be retrained to live indoors. 

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Bloating Average Cost

From 424 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Bloating Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Bombay Cat

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Three Weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloating

Bloating in kitten and diarrhea and squishy stomach/feels like it’s a balloon

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Parasites are very common in kittens, and can cause bloating and diarrhea. The best thing to do would be to have a veterinarian see that kitten and look at a stool sample for parasite eggs. They will be able to help with that bloating, and make the kitten feel better. I hope that all goes well!

Oct. 4, 2020

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Domestic cat

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4 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloating Diarrhea

Is it worms?

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. It may be worms, or she may be pregnant. It would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Kitten

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N/A

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen

I found this kitten and it poops everywhere and the poop is runny I noticed its belly is swollen

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my response, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Since I cannot see your pet, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be causing this, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 13, 2020

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Siamese

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hard Belly

Why does my cat have a hard belly

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, these emails are not set up for urgent messages. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Local

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloated Stomach

My kittens stomach seems bloated from last 2 months she is on dewormer also for 2 months but the bloated stomach issue isnt solved i guess its tapeworm as there were some small white thing coming out the anus

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 18, 2020

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Baby

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tabby

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5 Weeks

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bloating And Wheezing

This summer we found a small liter of 3 kittens under our wood pile at the cabin, the mother looked malnourished and sickly and the kitties looked starved so we took them home. I have 2 kitties, and my friend has the other. The 2 I have, have eaten the same food, same amount same time, meow mix dry kitten food (soaked in water till mushy) mixed with iams kitten portions wet food the 2 i have are extremely bloated, normal poop and pee, but hard bellies. The one my friend has isn't bloated and has only had purina kitten dry food if it was a parasite or worms (no worms in stool that I could see) they would all 3 have them so my question is, is it just the food?

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Diesel

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Cat

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen
Bloating
Large Abdomen
Firm Stomach

Hello, so our Diesel randomly had a large swollen hard abdomen around 3 weeks ago after eating her usual portion of food at teatime. It was very noticeably swollen on both sides but no other symptoms and she was happy for us to touch it. The next morning back to normal. The vets advised to monitor her and feed little and often rather than 2-3 set meals. This worked great. Then we reverted back to 2-3 set meals a week ago and after each meal she bloats as she did previously and then it is back to normal a few hours later. She seems her normal self, going to the loo as normal, drinking water, happy in herself, usual routine. Anybody experienced this and have any ideas? Why would she be so bloated after eating 1 sachet of food per sitting it isn't over the daily recommended amount and she is a larger than average cat. Thanks

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Mace

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Does Not Drink Water
Lack Of Grooming

7kg,6year old,orange short hair, male cat, spayed and neutered,up to date with vaccines, no underlying conditions with appetite loss, lethargic, abruptly hiding. He used the litter box 12 hours ago. He had dilated pupils for 10 hours, now pupils are back to normal.No apparent signs of pain. Loss of appetite and dehydration visible, even after forcefully made to drink water. Gums very white.

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Bella

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Long hair mixed breed

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12 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hard Belly
Hard Belly Meowing Loudly

My girl has been meowing loudly continuously for about a week now . She is very playful and eating and drinking regularly. I was trying to calm her down from the meowing and picked her up and rubbed her belly which she loves. She started purring like normal but I noticed that her belly is hard. I'm debating bringing her to the vet but also thought she may be constipated. Any thoughts? The meowing is like she's in heat she is not fixed as she's an indoor cat and our other cats are also females.

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Kitty

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Calico

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8 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Sleepy
Sleepiness

I'm actually not sure whats wrong with my kitten and I was hoping someone could help me figure it out. Shes fairly young, she was a stray when we first got her and she has always kind of had a bloated stomach since we got her like 2 months ago, but about a week ago she started having diarrhea and at first it wasnt that bad but its gotten progressively worse and more uncontrollable, and my mom and I thought maybe it was just some kind of sickness or something but my other cat has been fine. I'm really worried about my kitten and was hoping someone could help me out.

Bloating Average Cost

From 424 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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