Abdominal Distension in Cats
Contrary to a lot of misconception this is not caused by obesity

Abdominal distension in cats is not caused by obesity, and in most cases it is a very serious condition.

In fact, if your cat starts to vomit, suddenly starts to wrench as if they are in a lot of pain, or collapse suddenly, it has now become a life threatening situation.

Blue Eyes in cats can be mystifyingIt is a very dangerous situation

The actual term itself implies that it is something very abnormal that is occurring in your cat.

There are several potential causes of abdominal distension, but the most common is from some type of fluid that is building up very unnaturally in your cast abdomen.

Abdominal distension in cats is considered to be any type of an abnormal enlargement that is occurring in your cat’s abdomen, but contrary to some misconception, it is not just your cats belly or stomach.


The abdominal cavity in your cat contains several vital organs that include their stomach, as well as their intestines, liver and spleen.

It also contains your cat’s kidneys, pancreas, as well as their urinary bladder.

However, the list does not end there, as it also contains several blood vessels, as well as lymph vessels and nodes.

It is lined with a very thin membrane that is referred to as the peritoneum, and this lining helps to protect all of these contents in a very safe and sterile environment.

However, when this sterile environment is compromised, your cat’s abdomen starts to enlarge, thus the term abdominal distension.

Because of this, this condition is anything but normal, and should be taken extremely serious.

It can be the result of several issues that are occurring in your cat’s body such as some type of a fluid buildup as well as one of your cat’s organs that is enlarging.

However, it may also be the result of a tumor or sudden loss of your cats muscle tone in their abdomen.


Abdominal distension in cats does have several possible causes; however, by far and away the largest cause for this condition is from a fluid buildup that is occurring in your cat.

However, this fluid is not water buildup in most cases, but rather something that is much more sinister that is occurring.

It may be the result of blood entering into their abdomen from internal bleeding, urine that has entered as the result of some type of damage or tear in their urinary tract.

Or it may be a form of pus like substance referred to as exudate.

Exudate is cellular fluids in your cat that form from some type of an infection.

Fluid Causes

Fluid causes of abdominal distension in cats will always start with a leakage of blood in your cat’s abdomen, but this is followed very closely by urine leakage.

When blood is entering the abdomen and causing the distention, it is usually the result of an accident or trauma that you may have no idea has occurred.

Or it may be the result of the blood from your cat’s vessels have slowly eroded and are now leaking.

However, it may also be the result of something very dangerous to cats; rat poison. Rat poison is designed to prevent the blood of rats from clotting properly, and it is very effective at what it does.

If your cat has eaten this poison or recently digested a rat or mouse, this could be the cause of the blood not coagulating properly.

If urine is entering into their abdomen, it is almost always the result of some horrific trauma that has happened to your cat and it has ruptured their urinary tract.

The next potential cause of abdominal distension in cats is not as well known, but is nonetheless a very real threat; exudate.

Green eyes in cats can be intimidatingThere are several potential causes

If your cat has some type of an underlying serious infection, it can cause the release of exudates into their abdomen.

Exudates are very thick cellular fluids that are associated with infections, and the most common cause of them is Feline Infectious Peritonitis, also referred to as FIP.

However, exudates may be caused by other conditions such as a bacterial infection that has occurred as the result of an injury.

They may also be the result of cancer that is attacking your cat’s abdomen and this is referred to as neoplastic effusion.

However, there is still one other major player in potential fluid causes; transudates.

Unlike exudates, transudates are clear fluids that result from some type of pressure that is blocking the normal flow of blood in your cat’s abdomen.

It may also be the result of a decrease in your cat’s protein levels.

The reason this is so dangerous is that the protein levels help to hold and bind water in your cat blood, and one cause of this breakdown may be your cats liver starting to fail.

When your cat’s liver fails, it can very easily cause a change in their blood vessels in their abdomen. Once this occurs, they no longer produce enough blood protein to bind the water in the blood.


Loss of blood protein, also referred to as albumin, can also occur in your cats kidneys, and this is better known as protein losing enteropathy, or PLE.

In this case, the blood protein levels become too low and the result is the blood in your cat can no longer hold the liquid within it. Once this occurs, it leaks into the abdomen.

Abdominal distension in cats has some other potential causes, and the first on this list is the enlargement of your cat’s organs.

If your cat’s kidneys, spleen, or liver becomes enlarged, it is usually the result of some type of an obstruction that has occurred.

Once this happens, the flow of blood or urine in your cat is diverted into the abdomen.

However, enlargement of one of these organs may be the result of something much more sinister; an infiltration with your cat cells.

This is usually caused by three things; inflammation of the blood cells, leukemia, or cancer.

However, there are still other potential causes. The cause of this distension may be the result of bloat, which is air in the abdomen.

Although this primarily occurs in dogs, it can also occur in cats, although it is nowhere as common.

Tumors can also cause abdominal distension in cats, as well as a very sudden loss of the muscle tone in the abdomen.


The symptoms of abdominal distension in cats are quite limited and should be very easy for any owner to identify quickly, and the most obvious is the enlarging of your cat’s abdomen.

In most cases, this enlargement will seem to appear almost overnight.

If this does occur, your cat will usually start to vomit and suddenly begin to wrench.

If this does happen, it is a real emergency and you need to seek professional help as soon as possible as it can very easily take your cats life if not treated.

In other cases, the distension may develop over several days. If you see this occurring, you should treat it with the same sense of urgency.

However, there may be some cases when the distension is very slow in developing.

This is usually an indication that your cat has lost their muscle tone in their abdomen, and it will have to be discussed in detail with your veterinarian for possible treatments.


Abdominal distension in cats is a very serious condition that can be life threatening if not treated immediately.

There are several treatments for this condition, but the sooner you get your cat into your professional, the better chance they have of surviving it.

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