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What is Swelling?

While reasons for swelling range drastically in severity, a veterinary assessment is the best route for determining if a problem is mild or serious. Cats who have immune system deficiencies are prone to more health problems that often create swelling within the body. Kittens are also more susceptible to swelling, however, this is mainly due to worm infections. Swelling is not always visible. It can happen to vital organs such as the brain or lungs. Vital organ swelling is life-threatening and can be a veterinary emergency.

Swelling is an external sign of an internal problem. Often, an injury or condition will cause a fluid imbalance within the body's cells. This reaction is referred to as “edema” (swelling). Many issues that cause swelling are harmless to the cat, however, larger health problems may be found when swelling is present. Swelling can happen in any body part. To determine the cause of swelling, all other symptoms present in the cat must be recorded to help identify any underlying issues.

Swelling Average Cost

From 480 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Swelling in Cats

The main symptoms of swelling can be seen or felt externally. To determine the problem causing the swelling, all other symptoms must be taken into consideration. Signs of swelling include:

  • General puffiness
  • Lump or nodule presence
  • Warm area on the body
  • Visible wound
  • Ulcerations
  • Itchiness
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Causes of Swelling in Cats

Swelling can be caused by almost any ailment, including inflammation, injury or infection. As it is a natural response to any issue in the body, it can occur in any location, or as a general swelling of the entire body. Commonly seen causes of swelling include:

  • Abscesses
  • Allergic reaction
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Hematoma (ruptured blood vessels)
  • Wound or trauma
  • Pregnancy
  • Vaccinations
  • Cancer
  • Tumors (benign or cancerous)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Viral infection
  • Worms and other parasitic infections
  • Intestinal blockages
  • Pyometra (uterine infection)
  • Ruptured bladder
  • Constipation
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney/liver disease
  • Medications
  • Ascites (fluid build-up)
  • Foreign body
  • Paracetamol toxicity (Tylenol poisoning)
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Diagnosis of Swelling in Cats

To help pinpoint the cause of swelling your cat, you will need to bring your cat’s full medical history to a veterinarian. The vet will perform a complete physical examination of the cat. During this examination, the vet will attempt to specify the side and location that swelling is more prominent on. If life-threatening issues or wounds are found, these will need to be addressed promptly. The veterinarian will ask about the cat’s appetite and if it has been itching itself more than usual. 

Many tests may need to be run to help identify the cause of swelling. Full blood work will be required, including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile. This can help create a picture of the cat’s overall health. Ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs or CT scans can help to locate and assess certain internal problems that cause swelling. Urinalysis can show the presence of infection or kidney disease within the cat. All internal organs should be checked to assess their function. 

An echocardiogram can help identify heart problems. Fecal examination may be useful in instances of parasitic infection. The cat should be tested for common feline viruses including feline infectious peritonitis, feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus. A biopsy of swollen tissue can help reveal issues on a microscopic level.

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Treatment of Swelling in Cats

Appropriate treatment will vary greatly depending on the type of issue that is found in the cat. Some swelling will reduce on its own, while other cases will require complicated procedures to fix fluid imbalances. Below are some frequently used treatments in incidents of swelling.

Antibiotics 

Prescriptions for antibiotics will be given if bacterial infection is found in the cat. Antibiotics help rid the cat’s body of harmful bacteria. Prescriptions last from one to four weeks on average.

Antifungal Medication If fungal infection is diagnosed, antifungal medication can reduce swelling by eliminating the fungal infection.

Cancer Treatments

If the cause of swelling is determined to be cancer, many treatment options are available. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are all useful in treating cancer in cats.

Diuretics 

A prescription for diuretics can help alleviate generalized swelling within a cat.

Medication 

Many different underlying issues can be treated with various medication therapies. Length of treatment and side effects will vary depending on the medication prescribed.

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Recovery of Swelling in Cats

Many types of swelling go away on their own, however, certain swelling can be diagnosed as severe health conditions. If your cat is diagnosed with a viral infection, prognosis may be guarded. Painful abdominal swelling from feline infectious peritonitis generally indicates a very poor life expectancy. If cancer is the cause, it may be treatable or terminal depending on the location and progression. If wounds are present, general healing will cause swelling to dissipate.

It is best to keep your cat on a high-quality diet and promote adequate daily exercise through play. This can keep your cat in prime health and prevent certain health problems from occurring. Keeping your cat indoors can reduce events of trauma, infection, or viruses from happening. 

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Swelling Average Cost

From 480 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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Swelling Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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domestic shorthair

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8-9 years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Edema?

My cat has a strange swelling on the back of his neck. It's hard to describe, it almost looks like he was given some SQ fluids! Looks like it could also possibly an abcess, but no puncture wounds present. I'm thinking most likely it might just be general edema from him scratching at his ears/shaking his head (we've been fighting off ear mites for a couple of weeks)? I just didn't know if that was possible, I'd never seen anything like it before (previous RVT for 5 years). Just wondering if I should take him to get it checked out, or wait a few days and see if it resolves on it's own?

Sept. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Any type of acute swelling requires a trip to the veterinarian's office. You can wait a day or so but if it has not gone away I recommend taking your pet in for evaluation. Good luck.

Sept. 10, 2020

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Domestic shorthair

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One Week

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Pea-Sized “Squishy” Bump On Left Arm & Swelling Around The Bump

1 week old kitten from a stray- still w/mama & litter mates. Just discovered ~ pea-sized bump on arm. What is likely the cause?

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say without seeing the kitten, but it may be an abscess of some type. It would be a good idea to have the kitten seen by a veterinarian, as it looks like it is quite large for the size of the kitten, and may need treatment. I hope that all goes well for the kitten!

Aug. 8, 2020

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Short hair domestic cat

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limp, Shoulder Injury

We believe our cat has a fall, as he went in to the vet for a check when I found him barely able to walk. He is nearly a week out from the event, and is getting around a lot better, still favors his left shoulder and has a limp that is less severe, seems to have a lot more range of motion, is more friendly and is purring a lot(good appetite, water intake and bowel movements). This morning I noticed a visibly noticeable lump on his shoulder that feels like fluid, it’s not hard or hot, and doesn’t seem to bother him. Any advice? The vet never found anything the matter.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, This spot could be a cyst or an abscess. It would be best for your vet to look at this spot. They may need to lance the spot and drain the fluid. Abscesses and cysts can show up days and even a week or more after an accident too. I hope your cat starts to feel better soon.

July 27, 2020

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Bengal

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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

Swelling

bump on side, behind arm with a small puncture. Hurts to touch.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. The bump could be an abscess or a growth. It would be best to have the swelling examined by a veterinarian so they can identify what it is and provide appropriate treatment. Take care.

July 24, 2020

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Manx tabby

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Aggression

Thank you Dr. Michele K. For your advice. For some reason, I can not connect to updates from this website, and would love if we could coordinate a gmail correspondence. Our 3 year old cat has been progressing and she ate a lot today, drank lots of water, and noticed her using the litter. She has also spent a lot more time not hiding and watching the new kitten from afar. Now we are more worried about the new kitten in the house hissing and growling at our established cat. We have a small space so that limits our abilities. Not on alpraz, couldn’t send without specifying meds on site, HELP!

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

I am glad that your older cat is doing better! The new kitten may just need the same space and time. You mentioned that you have a small space, but you can create space using cat trees and things for the cats to be able to get away from each other. You may want to buy a cat tree, and put the kittens food and water up higher. If given space, time, and patience, the two cats should be able to get along. This platform isn't set up for back and forth emails, but I believe there is a chat option as well. I hope things continue to go well.

July 21, 2020

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Duchess

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domestic short hair

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18 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Frail

My old spayed female cat (18/19 years old) has suddenly developed quite a large round lump on top of her neck, from behind her ears. It’s about 3 inches across in all directions. It is firm and does not seem to bother her, but she has gradually become more frail over the last few months. I have an appointment for her, but her vet could not fit her in until the end of the week.

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Sully

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Domestic cat

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17 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Leg

My cat received subq fluids today at the vet. And she also had blood drawn. Her front right leg is swollen 9 hours later. Is that from the fluids? Or a problem from the blood draw?

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Si

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NA

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1 Month

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Joints

I have a kitten we found him on the streets we took him to the vet but the vet did was just clean him and provided food for him. We was fine he was running around the house playing and one day he started limping on his back leg it was fine then another day his leg got swollen and everyday after that it has gotten bigger and bigger. What could be the issue ?

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Tigger

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Brown tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Mild severity

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Limping
Discomfort
Sore Leg

I have a stay cat I had taken on he has access to outside and had gotten in a fight. He is fixed and has been to the vets many times now. He is on antibiotics and pregnazone(not sure how to spell it) but he still has some significant swelling in his back leg. I was wondering what I could do to help the swelling go down in his leg as it's clearly uncomfortable for him.

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Luna

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DSH (outdoors cat)

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Meowing Loudly

My cat’s upper butt area is swollen and she can’t lay down properly without her agonizing and meowing loudly, I don’t know why but last week she fell into the clothes washer so that might be why she is swollen

Swelling Average Cost

From 480 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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