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Fluid in Abdomen in Cats


Ascites in Cats


Ascites, also known as abdominal effusion, is the medical term referring to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen. This may cause symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and loss of appetite. A wide variety of causes may be responsible for ascites, thus treatments vary accordingly.


Symptoms and Types


Some of the outward symptoms your cat may show are difficulty breathing (or dyspnea) due to pressure on the chest from abdominal swelling, or from a related buildup of fluid in the space between the chest wall and lungs (referred to as pleural effusion). Male cats will sometimes also show a buildup of fluid in the scrotum or penis.


  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Weakness
  • Signs of discomfort when the abdomen is examined
  • Groaning noises when lying down




There are several causes for the occurrence of fluid buildup (or edema) in the abdomen, including abdominal bleeding, abdominal cancer, inflammation of the lining of the abdomen, a ruptured bladder, liver damage, and low levels of protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia). Right-sided congestive heart failure, in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, is one other possible cause, and a medical condition known as nephritic syndrome -- where the cat has protein in its urine and high cholesterol levels in its blood -- may also be responsible for fluid buildup in the abdomen.




Your veterinarian will perform a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. An ascetic fluid evaluation is general procedure for diagnosing ascites. This involves the removal of abdominal fluid to analyze for characteristics such as bacterial presence, protein makeup, and bleeding. Your veterinarian may also perform X-rays and ultrasounds to determine the cause of abdominal fluid buildup.


The cause for the fluid buildup in the abdomen may be the result of liver damage, a ruptured bladder, or right-sided congenital heart failure. Additional symptoms will help to determine further diagnostic procedures.



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