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What is Fluid In The Abdomen?

Fluid in the abdomen is also known as abdominal effusion or “ascites”. This is not a disease, but a reaction to an underlying problem. All cats have a small amount of fluid in the abdomen, to protect the internal organs. When this fluid builds up to dangerous levels, it is known as ascites.

Cats can have a variety of medical conditions that may require treatment. If your cat has fluid in his abdomen, he may exhibit specific symptoms that must be investigated by a veterinarian to ensure your cat’s recovery. 

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Fluid In The Abdomen Average Cost

From 362 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Fluid In The Abdomen in Cats

Ascites causes your cat to be uncomfortable and he may display certain symptoms that relay that message. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with fluid in the abdomen in domestic cats:

  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Overall weakness
  • Groaning noises while in a lying position
  • Abdominal distention 
  • Discomfort when the abdominal area is pressed
  • Male cats may have swollen scrotum
  • Difficulty breathing
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Causes of Fluid In The Abdomen in Cats

There are a variety of medical conditions or diseases that can cause your cat to develop fluid in his abdomen. Below are some of the most common causes of abdominal effusion in cats:

  • Bleeding in the abdomen
  • Cancer
  • Diseases of the liver such as hepatitis or cirrhosis
  • Excessive loss of albumin due to kidney failure
  • Diseases of the heart, especially right sided heart failure
  • Infectious diseases such as feline infectious peritonitis
  • Nephritic syndrome
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Diagnosis of Fluid In The Abdomen in Cats

In order to diagnose your cat, your veterinarian will need to obtain important information from you. He will need to know any information regarding your cat’s birth, pre-existing health conditions and the symptoms he has been exhibiting. Your doctor will also need to know when you first noticed symptoms, so he can determine how long the condition has been present. Vital signs will be taken at your doctor visit. Your doctor will check your cat’s weight, temperature, heart rate and rate of respiration. He will then examine your cat. The doctor will observe your cat’s behavior, neurological function and gait. He will palpate your cat’s abdomen, as well. 

Diagnostic tests will help your veterinarian determine the cause of abdominal effusion. He will draw a blood sample and run a complete biochemical profile and a CBC or complete blood count. A urine sample will be taken and evaluated, as well.  He may take some x-rays or perform an ultrasound to better visualize your cat's organs.  

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Treatment of Fluid In The Abdomen in Cats

If your cat has a significant buildup of fluid in his abdomen, the first order of treatment is to remove it so he can be more comfortable. Your veterinarian will most likely perform a procedure known as abdominocentesis. During this procedure, your doctor will tap the abdomen with a fine needle and drain the fluid. If your cat does not have a large buildup of fluid and is otherwise stable, your doctor may treat him with diuretics to help him eliminate the fluid.

Once the fluid has been removed, your doctor will work to treat the cause of the condition. If your cat has bleeding in his abdomen, your doctor may perform surgery to stop it. This will prevent the blood from re-accumulating in the abdomen. Cancer causing tumors may require surgery, as well. Medications such as antibiotics may be necessary to treat conditions such as bacterial infections. 

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Recovery of Fluid In The Abdomen in Cats

The length of time it will take your cat to recover depends on several factors. Some cats will undergo abdominocentesis and the problem may be temporarily resolved. Those cats feel better almost instantly and return to normal activity levels within a day or so, although the problem might recur. Cats that require surgery to remove tumors or to stop bleeding, will need several more weeks to recover. Your doctor may keep your cat in the hospital for a few days to give him medication and monitor his condition. Once he is stable enough to go home, your doctor will provide you with detailed instruction on how to care for him. If your cat has a bacterial infection that requires IV antibiotics, your cat may need to stay in the hospital for a few days, as well. Your doctor will send any needed medications home with you after discharge along with instructions on how to give them.

Some cats may need to be placed on a special diet that restricts sodium. This is because consuming excessive amounts of salt may cause your cat to retain water and cause fluid to re-accumulate. It is important that you follow these instructions to be sure your cat recovers fully. In addition, your doctor may want to see your cat every week or so to check for signs of fluid build-up. At these visits, it is important for you to tell your doctor about any unusual symptoms or changes in your cat’s eating pattern or behavior. Your cat will have a better chance of recovery when you and your veterinarian work as a team to care for him. 

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Fluid In The Abdomen Average Cost

From 362 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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Fluid In The Abdomen Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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short-hair tabby cat

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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9 found helpful

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Concave Chest

My male cat has quite severe fluid build up around his stomach area. His stomach has very slowly been increasing with more and more fluid over the past 3/4 months and I am now getting concerned. What would your diagnonses be? Thank you.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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9 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to see your cat, I can't say what the diagnosis might be. Common causes for fluid buildup in the abdomen include heart failure, liver disease, infection, or protein losing diseases. Since this seems to be getting worse, it would probably be best to have your cat seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine your cat, see what might be going on, and give you an idea as to what treatment might be available. I hope it all goes well for your cat.

Sept. 29, 2020

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Mutt

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old

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Belly Fluid, Very Boney, Dry Flaking Coat, Lethargy

I have been feeding scraps to an old feral cat on my porch. He is beginning to trust me, but I can't imagine getting him into a carrier. He is skinny, with a soft distended belly. He was eating wet can food, but now he only wants chicken and some days acts really hungry but won't eat. He drinks and urinates ok. He is old, with only one eye, and I am not looking to take him to a vet; I just don't think the trauma is worth it. But I do want to know if there is any food or supplement I can give him. He doesn't seem to be in pain.

Sept. 28, 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 response, there is a delay in receiving these emails sometimes. Without knowing what might be going on with him, I think the only thing that you can do is continue to feed him canned food, as that seems to be something that he can eat. He may have dental disease or gingivitis that is making it impossible to eat, in which case there isn't really anything that you can do for him I hope that he continues to have some quality of life.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Fluid In The Abdomen Average Cost

From 362 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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