All kittens have a bit of a belly when they're little, as their bodies grow to catch up with their appetites. But a kitten that has belly that appears disproportional with the rest of her body could suffer from an underlying condition that requires veterinary care.
When you look at your kitten, it's hard to imagine something so small could play host to dozens of unwelcome creepy-crawlies, but roundworms are unfortunately common in cats. Large infestations in kittens can give a pot-bellied appearance, and even cause intestinal blockage if the worms become intertwined and knotted together. Most adult cats aren't bothered by these spaghetti-like worms, but a kitten may suffer from malnutrition from the thieving parasites in their gut.
Although it's possible that your little kitty just likes to eat and is getting a belly to show that affection, chances are her sudden swollen stomach is more likely due to an underlying medical condition. Various conditions include a swollen or bloated belly as a symptom, including feline infectious peritonitis, tumors and malformation of the intestinal tract. Watch for additional symptoms such as a change in appetite, vomiting or lethargy to help your vet narrow down the possible condition.
Kittens are playful puffballs, and sometimes something can get swallowed during one of their playtime rampages. This inedible foreign object can cause an intestinal obstruction, which essentially blocks the “exit” and prevents proper pooping. This can be painful, and you'll notice that your kitten is issuing a pathetic, painful meow in addition to the ever-swelling belly. Surgery is the only way to remove the object and get things moving again, so don't hesitate if you think your kitten has swallowed something she shouldn't have.
Parents often lament that “kids grow up so fast” and this is even more true when it comes to cats. A female cat can get pregnant as young as 4 months old, so that bloated belly in your innocent little kitten may not be so innocent. If your kitty has access to the outside, or lives with intact males, there's a possibility she could be pregnant. Growing anywhere from three to nine developing kittens inside is hard on the body, especially when Mama is nothing but a kitten herself, so she may need close monitoring to make sure things progress smoothly and safely.
See Your Veterinarian
Don't rely on Dr. Google to help you diagnose, then treat, the cause of your kitten's bloated belly. The symptoms of many cat medical conditions like to mimic each other, and not all cats exhibit the same symptoms for the same condition. When you notice your kitten isn't showing the typical touchably-cute kitten pot-belly, get her to the veterinarian pronto. The possible causes of this swelling can spell doom for your kitten, so adopting a wait-and-see strategy isn't an option. Early diagnosis will make treatment more effective and recovery a stronger possibility.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.