What are the symptoms and treatment of ascites in cats?

Living with a cat not only means giving him food, water and a safe place to live, but it also means providing him with help whenever he needs it. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the symptoms you may have, such as a swollen belly, which is one of the consequences of ascites or abdominal effusion.

If you have it, read on to learn more about ascites in cats .

What is it?

Ascites, known as abdominal effusion or effusion, is a clinical sign that occurs when an abnormal amount of fluid accumulates in the abdomen , which can come from the blood vessels, the lymphatic system or from other organs in this area of ​​the body .

What are the causes?

The causes of ascites in cats are the following :

  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  • Right-sided congestive heart failure
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver disorders
  • Decreased levels of protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia)
  • Abdominal cancer
  • Trauma with ruptured blood vessels and / or internal organs causing abdominal bleeding
  • Ruptured bladder

What are the symptoms?


The most frequent symptoms in cats are:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Apathy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Anorexy
  • Vomiting
  • Fever (tenths)
  • Pain and tenderness to touch
  • Muscular weakness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Moans and groans
  • In severe cases, there may be swelling of the scrotum in cats and of the vulva in cats.

How do you make the diagnostic?

If we suspect that our cat has ascites we should take him to the vet. Once there, you will have a physical exam and will remove ascites fluid for testing . In addition, if you still have questions, you could have an ultrasound and / or abdominal X-ray, urine and / or blood tests, and cultures.

How is it treated?

Treatment will depend on the cause. For example, if it is due to infection, antibiotics will be administered; if it is due to trauma or tumors, on the other hand, the possibility of having surgery will be evaluated. Even so, we have to know that what he always does is to empty the ascitic fluid every few hours or days, and give him a low-salt diet .

Can it be prevented?

The truth is, yes. In fact, you just have to do the following :

  • Give him a quality diet, rich in animal protein and without grains of any kind.
  • Take him to get all the vaccinations he needs.
  • Make sure that the windows and doors are always closed.
  • Do not medicate the cat without first consulting a veterinarian.
  • Prevent the animal from leaving the house.

Does your cat have a bloated stomach?


A cat’s internal organs and its abdomen are covered by a lining called the peritoneum. This coating has a liquid that allows the entire interior to move when the cat is in motion. On the other hand, if the feline has swelling in the abdomen or distention, it may indicate that it may have health problems that can even end in death.

When too much peritoneal fluid is produced, it can lead to health problems. Next we are going to detail some causes so that you can detect it as soon as possible in your cat and that in this way you seek help as soon as possible.

Main diseases and conditions of cats that can cause ascites

An edema is a basic level of swelling due to an accumulation of fluid within the body and when it affects the abdomen or the stomach area it is when it is ascites. A key symptom of ascites is a bloated stomach, but it is also important to check if your cat stops eating, gains or loses weight, has a fever, is doing well in its litter box, etc.

When the cat has fluid pressing on its abdomen, they can have respiratory problems. The vet needs to be able to determine what causes it in order to find the best solution. The main diseases and conditions that can cause cats to have ascites are: physical trauma, heart failure, abdominal organ failure, cancer, or feline infectious peritonitis. Namely:

  • Insufficiency of abdominal organs. The failure of any abdominal organ of the cat can cause problems and pain. It is necessary to know what is the origin of the problem of the abdominal organs to find the best treatment.
  • Feline infectious peritonitisAnother cause of ascites in cats, feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, is caused by a virus that grows on white blood cells, directly affecting the stomach lining of cats. This condition is dangerous for cats and is not easy to diagnose. It is also difficult to cure.
  • Congestive heart failure on the right side. If the heart does not pump blood out of the cat’s body well, the condition can be fatal. It is necessary to discover the cause to treat it as soon as possible (heart disease, heartworms, etc.). In young cats it can be a genetic cause and in older ones by age.
  • Cancer also causes ascites in cats, mainly due to tumors and masses that can anchor in the abdominal cavity of a cat and cause blockages or interruption of the functioning of the organs. Liquids must be filtered.
  • Physical trauma . Any trauma caused by an accident can lead to ascites in a cat. It will be necessary for a veterinarian to inspect and discover what is happening to put a solution as soon as possible.

Cat recovery


Once the problem is diagnosed and treated, when it has not been too severe, there can be recovery. Fluid can be easily removed from the cat’s abdomen, but the cat’s full recovery will depend on the underlying cause of the ascites.

To increase the chances of your cat making a full recovery, follow your vet’s orders closely and schedule a follow-up appointment with the vet so he can assess how your cat is healing.

Your vet may ask you to change your cat’s diet to help prevent fluid build-up. One of the most important changes is reducing your salt intake which will reduce bloating and water retention.

If the ascites was caused by trauma, it may be wise to keep your cat indoors so that you can monitor him more closely and avoid further injury . You should also keep other pets away from your cat while he recovers if trauma is the underlying cause.

As we have seen, ascites is a problem, but it can be easily prevented.



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