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Flatulence (Gas) in Cats

ASPCA logoFlatulence is defined as excess gas in a cat’s stomach or intestines. Flatulence is more common in dogs than in cats, but cats can develop gas when food ferments in the digestive tract, when they swallow air after eating too fast or too much, or if there’s a disorder of the stomach, small intestine or colon.

A little gas is a natural part of the digestive process and usually passes quickly. Excessive gas, however, especially when it is foul-smelling and accompanied by other symptoms, may indicate that something is wrong in your cat’s digestive system.

What Are the Causes of Flatulence in Cats?

The following are some common causes of flatulence in cats:

  • Diets high in wheat, corn, soybeans or fiber
  • Dairy products
  • Spoiled food
  • Overeating
  • Food allergies
  • Poor food absorption
  • Eating too fast
  • Hairballs
  • Intestinal parasites

How Do I Know My Cat Has Gas?

It may seem silly to ask this question, as most people know flatulence when they smell it. However, 99% of intestinal gas is odorless. The following additional signs may alert you that your cat is having a digestive problem:

  • Rumbling in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Excessive passing of gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating/distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How Is Flatulence Diagnosed in Cats?

Your veterinarian will ask you about your cat's diet and eating habits in order to find out if the cause of her flatulence is food-related. A physical exam will also be performed to check for any health problems that may be causing the gas. If further testing is necessary, your veterinarian may suggest, among other diagnostics, bloodwork, urinalysis, fecal examination and/or radiographs of the abdomen.

How Can I Cure My Cat's Flatulence?

You may want to write down what your cat eats within a 24-hour period in order to see which foods might be causing his gas. The following are other suggestions that may help your cat:

  • Gradually change diet to a low-fiber, easily digestible food. Ask your vet for a recommendation.
  • Offer smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Feed cats in multi-cat households separately to avoid food competition.
  • Keep your cat away from spoiled food, i.e. the garbage.
  • Make sure your cat gets regular exercise.

Is Flatulence a Sign of Other Health Problems?

Excessive flatulence may be a sign that your cat is suffering from one of the following and needs to see a veterinarian:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestinal virus
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Worms or other parasites
  • Pancreas problems
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Dietary sensitivity

When Is It Time to See the Vet?

Please see your veterinarian if your cat has excessive gas along with the following symptoms, as these may indicate a more serious health problem:

  • Pain when you touch your cat’s belly
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Scooting across the floor
  • Bloody bowel movements

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

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