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What is Painful Abdomen?

Pain located in the abdomen can result from conditions ranging from trauma to disease, so it is important to take your  cat to a veterinarian for an examination as soon as possible if it is suffering.

There are numerous reasons why your cat may be experiencing abdominal pain. Cats are not normally expressive creatures when it comes to pain, but there are ways to detect if something is wrong in the abdominal region. Since the abdomen lies between the pelvis and the chest, a number of organs can be the culprit behind their pain.

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Painful Abdomen Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Painful Abdomen in Cats

Your cat may not always show signs to indicate it is experiencing abdominal pain. Also, pain can, unfortunately, be referred to another area of the body that isn't the real source. It is important to pay close attention to your cat to discover if it is experiencing abdominal pain. The main symptoms to look out for are listed below:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in feces
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Change in appearance or posture (e.g. hunched over)
  • Tenderness/pain when touched
  • Weight loss
  • Hiding away
  • Fast or irregular breathing
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Causes of Painful Abdomen in Cats

A number of conditions can bring about abdominal pain in your cat, including:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation in pancreas)
  • Cholangiohepatitis / Triaditis
  • Constipation
  • Cancer
  • Poisoning
  • Ruptured bladder
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Dietary intolerance
  • Kidney stones
  • Ascites (buildup of fluid within abdominal cavity)
  • Bacterial infection (e.g. pyometra, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis)
  • Parasites
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP, a fatal viral infection)
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Diagnosis of Painful Abdomen in Cats

To diagnosis your cat's condition, the veterinarian will want a full medical history and will also conduct a thorough physical examination that may lead to further diagnostic testing. What information you provide the vet can help immensely in narrowing down potential causes. Knowing if there has been any reaction to a specific type of food, exposure to dangerous substances or circumstances, and all of the other symptoms your cat has shown can aid in this process.

If the vet has determined further tests are required, there are a few common ones they will conduct. The common diagnostic testing includes a CBC (complete blood count), a urinalysis, and a biochemical profile. The three tests are generally used to check for signs of inflammation or infection, and to examine how well the organs are functioning. A fecal test may be conducted as well if parasites are suspected.

Often, an X-ray or ultrasound of the abdomen will be taken. These scans can discover any inflammation, tumors, kidney stones, or ruptures in the organs.

Your vet may also perform a biopsy or even a peritoneal fluid analysis, which checks the type of fluid in your cat's abdomen if fluid is detected. 

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Treatment of Painful Abdomen in Cats

Since there is a range of causes for abdominal pain, treatment plans may vary.

Surgery

If cancer or tumors have been found, the vet will almost certainly recommend surgery to remove it. A surgical procedure is also sought in the case of a ruptured bladder or intestinal obstruction.

Medication

In the event of a parasitic infestation or a bacterial infection, your vet will prescribe a round of antiparasitic or antibiotics. Although these medications may come with risks (e.g. side effects, developing a resistance), the benefits typically outweigh those concerns. It is important that they are given as prescribed so that your cat will reap all of the benefits.

Some medications may be given as supportive care. If your cat is suffering significantly, your vet may recommend the use of pain medication for relief. Anti-nausea medicine may be given to help stop vomiting, and in the event of seizures (mainly due to poisoning), your cat may be given anti-seizure medication. Additionally, drugs that suppress the immune system may be prescribed, typically in the case of IBD.

Poison Treatment

When poisoning is the cause behind your cat's suffering, your vet will begin treatment immediately upon knowing which toxin was ingested, if possible. If your cat only recently swallowed the poison, its stomach will be emptied and activated charcoal or fluid therapy may be administered to help curb any ill effects.

Additional treatment methods may vary based on the specific toxin. For example, in rat poisoning, the vet may administer vitamin K.

Diet

In the event of IBD or other dietary complications, a change in diet may be the recommended plan of treatment. Your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic diet or even an elimination diet. Both can help with IBD as well as determining if your cat has an allergy.

Supportive Care

Beyond pain and anti-nausea medication, supportive care may include the administration of fluids to treat dehydration. Also, if your cat has the misfortune of being afflicted with FIP, supportive care may be the primary form of treatment, as the viral infection has a high mortality rate.

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Recovery of Painful Abdomen in Cats

It is important to follow the treatment plan laid out by your veterinarian, especially if medicine has been prescribed. Prognosis will vary with the cause of abdominal pain. Relapse can occur from some conditions, and some be be chronic. IBD, for example, cannot be cured and is managed, rather than resolved. Keep a watch on your cat's appetite as well as any other symptoms. If they return, be sure to take your cat into see the veterinarian.

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Painful Abdomen Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Painful 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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Tabby

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3 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Painful Belly

My cat was vomiting and was crying when I touched his belly, he also was really tired and slept alo, 24 hours later he is acting normal

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I hope that he is still okay. If he needed to have a bowel movement, he may have been uncomfortable. If he is doing well at this point, it should be okay to monitor for any further problems.

Oct. 7, 2020

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Short hair

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Peeing Outside Box, Hiding, Lack Of Appetite

I think my cat is really sick...but no one in the area will see her

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. Unfortunately, I cannot see her over an email, and I am not sure what might be going on with her. Sometimes cats can develop urinary tract infection, or kidney disease, and having her seen by a veterinarian would be best. If you cannot get into your regular veterinarian, it might be a good idea to take her to a 24 hour clinic.

Oct. 10, 2020

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Painful Abdomen Average Cost

From 344 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

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

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