Signs & Symptoms of a Bloated Abdomen in Cats

A bloated abdomen can indicate a serious medical problem.
i Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Unless your cat is overweight, you should have no trouble noticing when she looks fuller in the belly than normal. This bloating can happen practically overnight or slowly build over the course of days or weeks. Prolonged periods of bloating can indicate medical issues and require veterinary attention to correct.


In many cases, abdominal bloating indicates that, although things are going in one end fine, they're not finding their way out the other. Cats tend to chew on and swallow things that are not meant to work through the intestinal tract, meaning the objects get stuck and cause a blockage. Swallowed toys or large hairballs can become lodged in the intestines, trapping gas and preventing effective bathroom trips. Watch your cat's behavior and take her to the vet if it changes dramatically since the onset of the bloating. Pain, changes in appetite and vomiting could indicate an obstruction, which typically requires surgery to remove.

Medical Issues

A rather unpleasant thought when it comes to abdominal bloating is the possibility of a more sinister medical issue at play. There are a number of organs in your cat's abdomen, all of which can fall prey to a number of medical conditions that can cause swelling, fluid build-up or tumors to cause visible distension. Blood, urine and various other fluids can accumulate in the abdomen due to injury or illness. Any unusual abdominal swelling should warrant a trip to the veterinarian, especially if it accompanies other changes in your cat's usual behavior or appearance.


Intestinal worms are a common ailment among cats, and most felines carry these uninvited guests around at some point in their lives. In many cases, you won't even know your cat is sick. Heavy infestations of roundworms, however, can create a pot-bellied appearance in some cats, especially those with smaller frames or young kittens. You may discover dead worms in your cat's litter box or vomit, and your vet can test her poop for signs of eggs. Treating a parasite infestation is fortunately one of the easiest health issues to deal with, as a few doses of dewormer medication is usually enough to send the little freeloaders to meet their maker.


Although obviously not a possibility for male cats with bloated bellies, the distinctive pregnant belly starts to show about halfway through your cat's gestation. Cats reach sexual maturity much faster than you may expect, with some kittens entering their first heat cycle as young as four months. If they go into heat and there is a willing male available, there's a really good chance you're going to have kittens in about two months. A trip to the vet can confirm this with an ultrasound check.

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.

the nest