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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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cat

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

I have a 1 yo male, neutered cat. For the past 4 months he keeps getting these lumps on his face. He's being treated by my vet and he can't seem to get to the bottom of it. One bump will go away and then another one appears. The latest one if at the corner of his mouth. During today's vet visit, he discovered a rather large ulcer on his gums. Have you heard of anything like this. He is UTD on his shots, acts totally normal - eating, drinking, playing, etc. I'm so worried about him.

March 7, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. My first thought would be that he may be experiencing feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex. We can see the development of various ulcers and lumps that can be red and itchy. For some, it is a reaction to e.g. fleas or food. A biopsy should confirm or exclude this diagnosis. In the mean time, medicine like steroids and antibiotics may help. Hopefully we get on top of this soon.

March 7, 2021

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domestic short hair

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Eight Months

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My cat has had swelling, first in his paw then it went away, then the side of his face and that also went away, and now his paw is swollen again

Jan. 12, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello I’m sorry your pet is not feeling well. He could be developing abscesses in those areas. I recommend that you follow up with a veterinarian for an exam. He may need antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Good luck.

Jan. 12, 2021

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tabby

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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

Painful Swelling

my cat has a raw spot on the back of his hind leg. he now is having pain when he is walking and it looks swollen. He is refusing to drink water now and hissing and growling every time he tries to walk. He just got his rabies shot and microchipped and dewormed two days ago. and he was fine the rest of that day.

Dec. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

Its possible that this is a vaccine reaction if this is the area they injected him; you should ask your vet where the injection was given. Other considerations would include an abscess or spider bite. Regardless, as he is in pain, he does need to see a vet. They can check him over and may issue medicine such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. I do hope this helps.

Dec. 14, 2020

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cat

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Glands

My cat has swelling glands under his back legs. He is eating drinking and going to the bathroom normally. What do I do because I don't have the money to take him to the vet

Dec. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, if this is his anal gland you can easily express these at home by gently squeezing on them. Just to warn you they smell very bad. If this is some other gland, he may need to see a vet. It is very hard to tell exactly where these glands are without a picture.

Dec. 8, 2020

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Maine coon?

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1 year old

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling Of Face And Neck, No Energy, Sleeps All Day, Bad Breath, Runny Nose

His face is noticeably swollen, his lymph nodes in his neck are also very swollen. Doesn't move much, sleeps most of the day. He will eat and drink if we brimg it to him, but he wont make the effort to walk. Hes been diagnosed with something, hes allergic to the tarder that forms on teeth. Very stinky breath. Hes been coughing and sounds a little congested as well. 😥

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. I'm sorry that he is not feeling well. It sounds like he needs medical attention, and it would be best to have him seen by your veterinarian right away. He may need therapy to help him.

Oct. 10, 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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0 found helpful

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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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0 found helpful

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

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

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2 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

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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0 found helpful

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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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