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.
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
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:
- Allergic reaction
- Insect bites or stings
- Hematoma (ruptured blood vessels)
- Wound or trauma
- Tumors (benign or cancerous)
- Genetic predisposition
- Bacterial infection
- Fungal infection
- Viral infection
- Worms and other parasitic infections
- Intestinal blockages
- Pyometra (uterine infection)
- Ruptured bladder
- Heart failure
- Kidney/liver disease
- Ascites (fluid build-up)
- Foreign body
- Paracetamol toxicity (Tylenol poisoning)
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.
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.
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.
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.
A prescription for diuretics can help alleviate generalized swelling within a cat.
Many different underlying issues can be treated with various medication therapies. Length of treatment and side effects will vary depending on the medication prescribed.
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.
Swelling Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I took a kitten from the street and while playing in the house,the broomstick fell on him.Next day i noticed a swelling around the flank area.But he is eating food as usual,urinating and has firm stool.It has been 2 days and the swelling is still visible.Should i take him to a vet or will it go by its own ?
A swelling may be due to local inflammation or bleed due to trauma or a hernia, again from the trauma. If Roony is eating, drinking, urinating and defecating; keep an eye on him, but if there are problems or he is showing pain take him to a Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My cat had an abscess over the perianal area. After it has resolved, i noticed that the previous abscess site has been increasing in size and now causes distortion of the anus. The swelling feels soft in consistency, no redness or discharge or sinus over the area. He is otherwise healthy. What could be tge cause of the swelling and will it become a cause of concern?
My kitten's cheek is swollen. It is been few weeks since it started. Earlier when she had fever, the swelling was in the cheek and her left upper arm. Took her to the vet, the vet gave a tablet. But the swelling didnt go down properly. I tried applying balms to reduce it. It jus went down a bit. Yesterday suddenly her face got swollen up. Took her to the vet. The vet pulled up her blood. It looked rusty wit lot of air. Gave a tablet. Bt the swelling is just the same. Will it go down on itz own or cause to worry???
2 days ago a front right leg and paw of cat was swollen after that last night i noticed that right ear has swollen and he become as weak that he did not walk properly and did not eat food
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