Many people burp after eating a large meal or drinking a beverage. Dogs also routinely burp after drinking a lot of water on a hot summer day. But can cats burp? And if they can, does it mean something is wrong?
Here’s what you should know about cat burping and what you should do if your cat burps.
Is It Normal for a Cat to Burp?
In a short answer, no. Cats are normally not going to let out a loud belch while lying on the couch after finishing supper. Burping in cats is uncommon and rarely seen on a daily basis.
Cats primarily breathe from their nose, so excess air entering their gastrointestinal tract is relatively uncommon compared to other species.
Why Do Cats Burp?
Any gastrointestinal upset, which many cats are prone to developing, could lead to abnormal sounds. Health issues such as sensitive stomach, hairballs, acid reflux, and indigestion can increase the chances of hearing a burp from your frisky feline.
Burping can also be a sign of esophagitis, or inflammation in your cat’s esophagus due to gastrointestinal upset. Esophagitis can occur from the administration of oral medications, as the hard substance can literally scratch your cat’s esophagus as the medication slides down to their stomach.
Although rare, cats can also swallow excess air when treats are given or medication is administered, and this can result in a burp.
If you think your cat is exhibiting persistent digestive symptoms, they could have feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a group of diseases that can affect your cat’s digestive system. It’s characterized by inflammation throughout the GI tract. The exact type of disease depends on where the inflammation occurs. Cats with IBD may have other symptoms besides burping, including losing weight, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of energy (lethargy), blood in their stool, and a loss of interest in food.
Burping can also be the result of anesthetic procedure, where muscles involved in digestion are temporarily affected. This cause is very unlikely but could be possible following a surgical or anesthetic event. The burping should resolve quickly as the anesthetic wears off.
When Should You Be Concerned About Cat Burping?
If your cat burps every now and then, even if they have gone years without burping, it may not be anything to worry about. There is not always an underlying issue that causes your cat to burp. Burping can occur whenever your cat swallows excess air. A burping sound heard once every now and then is probably fine to monitor at home.
Some cats may be more prone to burping if their habits or daily activities result in consuming excess air. But if you think your cat is trying to burp the ABCs, or they are making a similar sound in excess, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Any symptom in addition to frequent burping, such as nasal congestion, hacking, or gagging excessively, is an indication that your cat has an underlying issue that needs to be treated.
What Should You Do If Your Cat Is Burping?
If your cat is burping frequently, has any trouble breathing, or is exhibiting gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea, call your veterinarian as soon as possible so they can examine your cat to rule out anything serious.
Try recording a video of your cat making the burping sound or any other unusual sounds so you can show your veterinarian. As we know, pets are unlikely to show their symptom on arrival to the vet office!
If your cat recently underwent a medical procedure or was recently diagnosed and treated for any reason, check with your veterinarian if the burp frequency changes around the time of the procedure or when medication was started.
If your cat’s burping is due to esophagitis following the administration of oral medications, they may need additional medication to help their esophagus lining heal.
Cats suffering from IBD benefit from a high-quality diet that offers maximum nutrient density and is easily digestible. A great diet helps in producing normal bowel movement frequency and consistency while eliminating common causes of gastric irritation or stomach upset. Your veterinarian can help carefully select a great diet specific to your pet’s needs.
It is important to offer water with meals and when giving medications to avoid excess air from being swallowed. Additionally, if your cat is scarfing food down at each meal, you can attempt to feed several smaller meals throughout the day to avoid excess air being swallowed. Also consider a puzzle bowl to extend the amount of time spent eating each meal.
Featured image: iStock.com/SValeriia