If your cat’s abdomen is distended, the advice, as always, is to see a good veterinarian as soon as possible. You can read this page before you go so that you can discuss your cat’s health in a more enlightened fashion. I believe that it helps the vet, you and above all your cat if you have some cat health knowledge. But don’t overuse it and self-diagnose. An enlightened cat owner is better positioned to resolve cat health problems in collaboration with their vet compared to one who cannot provide any sort of useful information to assist in diagnosis.
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Any changes to the shape of a cat’s abdomen needs to be checked out. “Distension” means the stomach bulges when the cat is viewed from above. The cat is “pot bellied”.
The information is presented in a table for speed reading/skimming. If you want to search this table for certain words use Ctrl F command. Depress the Ctrl key and the “F” at the same time and a little box comes up on your screen bottom left or top right. Enter the word and it will be highlighted. Click on the next button to see more.
|Long term abdominal distension. Cat feels OK. No other signs.||Cat is obese.|
|Long term abdominal distension. No bowel movement. Cat becomes anorexic, dehydrated and vomits (brown fecal-smelling material)||Colon contains dense feces|
|Abdomen of intact (not spayed) female cat becomes gradually distended over 2 months. Mammary glands are enlarged.||Pregnant cat|
|Intact female cat not feeling well with distended abdomen and possible vaginal discharge.||Infection of uterus (pyometra). Common in old, intact female cats.|
|Gradual distension of the abdomen with one side being more distended than the other (possibly) and cat feeling ill and poor appetite with weight loss, possible diarrhea and vomiting and jaundice.||Abdominal mass in liver, spleen, intestine or kidney|
|Progressive abdominal distension with soft abdomen equal both sides due to fluid accumulation in abdomen. Cat lethargic, poor appetite and possible fever.||Heart disease causing fluid in abdomen. FIP|
(feline infectious peritonitis), peritonitis, cancer, liver failure.
|Acute abdominal distension accompanying an accident (trauma). Cat is depressed, fever, pale lips.||Ruptured bladder. Pale lips (mucous membrane) indicates bleeding. Fever indicates peritonitis.|
|Acute abdominal distension with difficulty breathing and depressed appearance with poor appetite.||Stomach enlargement because cat swallowed air.|
|Abdomen becomes quickly distended. Cat is weak and lethargic. Mucous membranes are pale and cat has low body temperature.||Cat is anemic because of bleeding into abdomen. This may be due to rat poison, tumor or injury due to accident (trauma).|
|Swelling of abdomen, fever, weight loss, diarrhea||Possible toxoplasmosis. Most cats show no symptoms though.|
|Temporary distension of abdomen||Eating fermented food, constipation, overeating|
|Abdominal distension in kittens||Worm infestation, toxic milk syndrome. kitten septicemia.|
|Lower abdomen distended and painful to touch, straining to urinate but no urine||Obstruction of urethra (the tube connecting urinary bladder to the genitals).|
Sources: (a) The Veterinarians’ Guide to Your Cat’s Symptoms (b) Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.