A cat’s stomach making noises after eating is quite normal. Strange sounds occur naturally as part of a cat’s digestive tract process. However, if your cat’s stomach is gurgling a lot, it may be a symptom of a health problem.
The most simple explanation is that your cat’s belly is rumbling due to hunger. However, it may also be finding it hard to digest a meal. Cats can experience inflammatory bowel disease, while kidney issues and hyperthyroidism can also lead to strange sounds from the stomachs.
A cat’s rumbling stomach could simply be due to the digestive process, but it could be a warning of something more concerning. You should monitor your cat closely for any behavioral changes that are abnormal for your cat.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Is My Cat’s Stomach Making Weird Sounds?
- 1.1 Digestion
- 1.2 Hunger
- 1.3 Upset Stomach
- 1.4 Gas and Flatulence
- 1.5 Intestinal Blockages
- 1.6 Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- 1.7 Kidney Problems
Why Is My Cat’s Stomach Making Weird Sounds?
Humans often emit gurgling sounds from our stomachs. This may be because we ae hungry, or because we are digesting a meal. Cats make these same noises. As cats have small stomachs, the sound is just quieter. This means that we may miss it on many occasions.
A cat’s stomach gurgling is common straight after a cat eats. If the cat is otherwise acting normally and showing no signs of discomfort, do not worry. Just check for any sudden changes in demeanor.
That said, a cat’s stomach should not gurgle constantly. This can suggest that something is amiss with feline digestion or health.
The sound arises while food is broken down and dissolved. The digestive tract of a cat is comparatively simple. This means that it should not require much effort to digest feline-appropriate food. If your cat eats a protein-rich, meal, it should be fully digested within a matter of hours.
Sometimes, a cat may experience slow digestion. This could be related to age. Senior cats slow down in all aspects of life. It is likelier to pertain to the cat’s diet, though. As per Veterinary Sciences, feline bodies are not engineered to digest carbohydrates or starch.
You will find limited carbs and starch in any cat food, especially those designed for senior felines. These food groups are unnecessary for a cat. Consuming them leaves cats bloated and lethargic, with a stomach that gurgles loudly for a prolonged period.
Are you late with your cat’s dinner? If so, it’s quite possible that your pet is just hungry. Feline stomachs rumble when empty. What’s more, cats need a regular supply of energy.
Cats will rarely suffer in silence when hungry. Your cat has likely been vocalizing to you, with the meowing growing increasingly elongated. Try not to make a habit of missing scheduled mealtimes. Cats grow distressed and anxious when routine is disrupted too often.
If your cat has already eaten but still seems hungry, consider the weather. Cats are typically around 15% hungrier during the winter months. It’s fine to offer your cat more food during the coldest times of the year. Just redress the balance in spring.
Internal Parasites (Worms)
Worms and other intestinal parasites are a common explanation for feline stomach noises. Parasites often set up home in a cat’s intestines. This will naturally have an impact on feline digestion.
If your cat has a tapeworm infestation, it will be hungry more than usual. Tapeworms sustain themselves on the food that a cat eats. This will lead to a rumbling stomach. The sheer presence of worms can also create noises from a cat’s stomach.
A worm infestation is easily resolved. An over-the-counter remedy from your local pet store will fix the issue. It is best to offer these medications in advance, though. Worms can lay eggs, which lead to a recurring infestation. Treating in advance eliminates this risk.
Hyperthyroidism is the result of an overactive thyroid gland. This gland, found in the throat, releases hormones into the cat’s body. An excess of these hormones will make a cat’s heart beat excessively fast. Typically, this means over 140 beats per minute.
Hyperthyroidism is a common explanation for a stomach gurgling through hunger. If your cat has an insatiable appetite, no matter how much it eats, investigate further. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery explains how 10% of all senior cats develop hyperthyroid.
In addition to constant hunger and elevated heart rate, symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss, despite this sharp increase in appetite
- Excessive thirst and associated urination
- Bursts of hyperactivity
- Unmatted, greasy and scruffy fur
- Vomiting and diarrhea
A cat with hyperthyroidism must be treated. The pressure this condition places on the heart is unsustainable. In drastic cases, the thyroid gland will be surgically removed. More often, cats are prescribed daily medication for the remainder of their lifespan.
Rumbling could also be a precursor to an upset stomach. Most of the time, this will manifest as vomiting or diarrhea. The gurgling denotes a struggle to digest something that needs to be purged. Eventually, the problematic food will be expelled.
Stomach upsets are commonplace in felines. Reassure your cat and encourage it to drink water. Purging through vomit or feces and remove fluid from a cat’s body. Only grow concerned if your cat experiences repeat episodes for over 24 hours.
Your cat may have upset stomach because it ate too much. Moderate your cat’s food intake according to energy levels. An older cat that lives a docile lifestyle will have a slower metabolism. It is not burning much energy, so only needs a limited amount.
Consider whether your cat may be eating elsewhere, too. If your cat visits other homes, it may be eating multiple times a day. Eventually, this will take its toll. The cat’s stomach will swell and gurgle ahead of purging the excess contents.
Think about any hunting that your cat does, too. If your cat eats prey that it captures, it may develop a stomach upset. Mice and birds are comparatively low in calories. A full animal on top of a meal, though, may be too much for a small feline stomach to store.
Vomiting and diarrhea can be among the symptoms of allergies in cats. This reaction, especially when accompanied by a gurgling stomach, is likely to stem from food allergies. The cat may also be sensitive to something on its environment.
Check for signs that your cat is experiencing an allergic reaction. Other than a gurgling and upset stomach, these include:
- Breakouts of hives and hotspots on the skin
- Coughing and sneezing
- Streaming eyes
Most of the time, an allergy will right itself within an hour or less. You must separate your cat from the trigger of the reaction though. If you fail to do so, the cat will continue to react this way. A gurgling stomach will soon become a lesser concern.
Toxicity or Inappropriate Food
Always be vigilant about watching what your cat eats. Many human foods are unsafe and inappropriate for cats. Thankfully, felines are often more interested in their own meals. Cats can be curious, though.
If your cat eats something the stomach cannot digest, gurgling will follow. In addition, the cat will likely vomit. Other warning signs of toxicity include:
- Wide, staring eyes
- Pale gums
- Lack of coordination and confusion
- Seizures and loss of consciousness
Toxicity – or the consumption of dangerous foodstuffs, such as spoiled meat – must be rectified. This will usually involve a combination of intravenous fluids and induced vomiting or laxatives.
Gas and Flatulence
The gurgling of a cat’s stomach may be a warning of trapped wind or gas. This is typically a temporary issue. The cat will resolve it of its own accord in due course.
Arguably the most common explanation for feline gas is eating too quickly. If a cat gulps down its food, it will also swallow air. This air will become trapped in a cat’s intestines. Here it will remain for a while, causing a gurgling sound.
Eventually, the gas will be expelled as a belch, hiccups or flatulence. Once or twice, this is amusing. Eventually though, it may become problematic. Nobody wants to live with a gassy cat, and prolonged problems can take a toll on digestion.
Assess why your cat is eating too quickly. A common explanation is that the cat is ravenous, having waited all day for a meal. Rectify this by splitting your cat’s food allowance in half and feeding it twice. If the cat eats in the morning and evening, it will be less hungry.
Your cat may also be insecure about its relationship with food. This is common in multi-cat households. The fear that another animal will steal food overwhelms the desire to eat safely. Feed the cat alone, in a separate room, to build its confidence.
Consider changing your cat’s bowl. If your cat continues to gobble food, purchase a slow feeding bowl. These vessels contain ridges that force a cat to slow down. If the gurgling stomach ceases after this, you have resolved the concern.
If your cat is eating normally but still has gas, consider whether it is consuming lactose. Many cats enjoy a slice of cheese or bowl of milk as a treat. Unfortunately, felines are lactose intolerant. Gurgling stomachs and gas are the consequences of consuming dairy.
A more worrying reason for a gurgling stomach is an intestinal blockage. This means that something is preventing food from progressing along the cat’s digestive tract. This can lead to constipation or vomiting. The gurgling caused by this ailment will typically be louder, too.
An intestinal blockage is usually easy to spot. The cat’s stomach will be swollen and distended. The cat will also be unable to hide its physical discomfort. Cats with an intestinal blockage will also lose appetite. The cat is incapable of eating as food cannot be digested.
An intestinal blockage must be considered a medical emergency and treated accordingly. Always discuss the problem with a professional. Treatment depends upon what is causing the blockage.
Hairballs are the most common source of intestinal blockages in cats, especially in longhaired breeds.
Whenever a cat grooms, it swallows fur. Ordinarily, this fur is small enough to pass through the digestive tract. Occasionally, it will build in size and become trapped in a cat’s throat. If swallowed, this hairball can then reach the digestive tract.
Cats will always attempt to purge a hairball through vomiting. This may not be possible with larger hairballs, especially those that have reached the intestines. In this instance, the hairball will remain in position and cause a blockage.
Try offering your cat a teaspoon of flax seed oil. If your cat will not take this, try fish oil. The aim is to lubricate the hairball. This will, in theory, make it easier for your cat to pass. If this does not help in a matter of hours, seek help.
If your cat only passes part of a hairball, do not tug the rest from its rear. The hair may be wrapped around a key internal organ. Cut any loose hair with scissors and observe the cat to ensure it passes the rest.
You can also minimize the risk of hairballs by partaking in grooming. Brush your cat regularly. This will remove loose, dead fur. The less of this fur is on your cat’s coat, the less it will swallow.
A more concerning form of intestinal blockage are foreign objects. This issue can often arise in cats with pica – the urge to eat non-food items. If your cat is eating insoluble, indigestible items, intestinal blockages become inevitable.
The foreign object will need to be removed. If possible, this will be done via the throat. This is rare, though. If something has caused an intestinal blockage, it has usually progressed into the gastrointestinal tract.
This means the cat will need to be treated surgically. The offending item will be located via a scan and removed by a vet. The cat will then be stitched up and sent home. This will resolve the gurgling stomach and blockage.
Obviously, there are risks involved with surgery on senior cats. These pale into insignificance when compared to the dangers of an intestinal blockage, though. A cat with a blockage cannot eat.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
While IBD is more commonly associated with humans, it can arise in cats. The Journal of the American Veterinary Association links feline IBD with pancreatitis.
A cat with IBD will experience painful inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This explains the gurgling. Older cats with more sensitive stomachs are likelier to develop the issue. Symptoms of IBD in cats include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Lethargy and depression
- Vomiting and diarrhea, often containing blood
Cats with IBD can still live a full life. Their condition must be managed carefully, though. In most instances, a specialist medical diet will be prescribed. Non-inflammatory foods will carefully be chosen and tailored to your cat’s needs.
Your cat may also require medication. Do not offer human remedies, such as Buscopan. A vet will prescribe an appropriate treatment.
If you cannot find an explanation for a cat’s gurgling stomach, speak to a vet. Your cat may be experiencing kidney problems. As the kidneys play a major role in digestion, a lack of optimum performance can create issues.
Unfortunately, renal failure can be difficult to spot in a cat. Feline kidneys gradually start to fail over the course of a cat’s lifespan. All too often, there are no symptoms until the problem is advanced. An annual check-up will involve a kidney review, though.
Acute Kidney Failure (ARF)
Acute renal failure in cats occurs when the kidneys immediately and unexpectedly cease functioning. This condition is associated with toxicity. Shock or obstructions can also cause ARF, especially in senior felines.
Acute renal failure must be addressed immediately. A cat cannot survive with no kidney function. The moment you suspect this issue, proceed straight to a vet. Symptoms of ARF include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden lethargy
- Inability to urinate, or excessive urination
- Bad breath
- Vomiting, especially if bloody
Acute renal failure can be reversed, if captured early enough. If the issue stems from toxicity, the poison will be flushed out with fluids. If necessary, a transplant will also be attempted.
Chronic Kidney Failure (CRF)
Chronic renal failure is the gradual deterioration in the performance of a cat’s kidneys. Any cat that lives a long life will eventually experience CRF. It is the primary cause of morbidity in geriatric felines.
Oftentimes, this concern has no symptoms. Cats do not start to struggle with daily life until kidney performance drops below 25%. At this stage, your cat’s stomach is likely to gurgle and possibly swell. The kidneys are incapable to aiding digestion to maximum efficiency.
While CRF will eventually be fatal, your cat’s life can be extended. Ensure that your cat is prescribed appropriate medication and attends regular health examinations. The Journal of Small Animal Practice confirms that a specialist diet can also prolong the lifespan of a cat with CRF.
If your cat’s stomach is constantly gurgling, something is likely amiss. Conduct a process of elimination and discover the likeliest cause. Most of the time, this can be managed at home. If your cat needs veterinary help, do not hesitate to seek it as the problem needs to be addressed as a priority.