A cat’s stomach making noises after eating is 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 have a different cause.
The most likely explanation is that your cat’s belly is rumbling due to hunger, eating too much food, or reacting adversely to something eaten. However, it may also be struggling to digest its meal, perhaps due to its high carb content or an allergy. Cats can experience inflammatory bowel disease, while kidney issues and hyperthyroidism can also lead to strange sounds coming from the stomach.
A cat’s rumbling stomach could be due to the digestive process, but it could also be a warning of something more concerning. Monitor your cat closely for any behavioral changes that are abnormal for your cat.
Why Is My Cat’s Stomach Making Weird Sounds?
Humans often emit gurgling sounds from their stomachs. This may be because we are hungry, or because we are digesting food. Cats make these same noises. As cats have small stomachs, the sound is just quieter.
A cat’s stomach gurgling is common after a cat eats food. 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 there is a broader health issue.
The gurgling 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 hours.
Sometimes, a cat may have slow digestion. This could be age-related as senior cats slow down in all aspects of life. However, it is likelier to pertain to the cat’s diet. According to Veterinary Sciences, feline bodies are not engineered to digest carbohydrates or starch.
You will find limited carbs and starch in cat food, especially those intended for senior felines. These food groups are unnecessary for a cat. In fact, consuming them leaves cats bloated and lethargic, with a stomach that gurgles loudly after the meal has been consumed.
Are you late feeding your cat its dinner? If so, your cat may just be feeling hungry. As is the case with humans, feline stomachs rumble when empty.
Cats will let you know when they are hungry. Your cat has likely been vocalizing to you, with the meowing growing increasingly elongated. Cats grow distressed and anxious when their routine is disrupted.
If your cat has eaten but still seems hungry, it may be due to higher energy needs due to cold weather. Cats are about 15% hungrier during the winter months. It’s OK to offer your cat more food during the coldest times of the year, provided that you reduce its meal size during the spring.
Internal Parasites (Worms)
Worms and other intestinal parasites are a common explanation for feline stomach noises. Parasites can enter a cat’s intestines, having a significant impact on the digestive process of cats.
If your cat has a tapeworm infestation, it will be hungry more than usual. Tapeworms sustain themselves on the food that your cat eats, leading to a rumbling stomach. The sheer presence of worms can also mean that noises come from a cat’s stomach.
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 to beat excessively fast. Usually, 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, this is a possible explanation. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery explains how 10% of all senior cats develop hyperthyroid.
In addition to constant hunger and an elevated heart rate, symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss, despite a sharp increase in appetite
- Excessive thirst and associated urination
- Bursts of hyperactivity
- Unmatted, greasy, and scruffy fur
- Vomiting and diarrhea
The strain this condition places on the heart is unsustainable. In severe cases, the thyroid gland will need to be surgically removed. More often, cats are just prescribed daily medication.
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.
Try to encourage your cat to drink more water. Purging through vomit or feces will remove fluid from the cat’s body. Veterinary consultation is only necessary if your cat experiences repeat episodes for more than 24 hours.
Your cat may have an upset stomach because it ate too much. Moderate your cat’s food intake based on how much energy it’s expending. An older cat that lives an inactive lifestyle will have a slower metabolism. It is not burning much energy, so it doesn’t need to consume as much food.
Vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms of allergies in cats. This reaction, when accompanied by a gurgling stomach, may stem from food allergies. The cat may also be sensitive to something in its environment. Other than a gurgling and upset stomach, symptoms 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. It would help if you separated your cat from the trigger of the reaction, but it can be difficult to figure out what is adversely affecting your cat.
Toxicity or Inappropriate Food
Be vigilant about watching what your cat eats. For example, many human foods are unsafe for cats. Avoid sharing the food you eat with a cat, unless you know that it’s safe for feline consumption. Be wary about feeding your cat scraps of old food in case it has spoiled.
If your cat eats something that its stomach cannot digest, gurgling and perhaps vomiting will follow. 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 treated by a vet. 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 sign of trapped wind or gas. This will usually be a temporary issue that will go away on its own.
The most common explanation is eating too quickly. If a cat gulps down its food, it will swallow air. This air will become trapped in a cat’s intestines. It will remain for a while, causing gurgling sounds. Eventually, the gas will be expelled as a belch, hiccups, or flatulence.
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 a day. If the cat eats in the morning and evening, it will likely feel 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 becomes greater than its desire to eat safely. Feed the cat alone, in a separate room, to build its confidence. If your cat continues to eat too fast, get a slow feeding bowl. They contain ridges that force a eat more slowly.
If your cat is eating normally but still has gas, it may be consuming lactose. Many cats enjoy cheese or milk as a treat. Unfortunately, felines are lactose intolerant. Gurgling stomachs and gas are due to consuming dairy products.
An intestinal blockage means that something is preventing food from progressing along a cat’s digestive tract. This can lead to constipation or vomiting. The gurgling caused by this ailment will typically be louder.
An intestinal blockage means that a cat’s stomach will be swollen and distended. The cat will also be unable to hide its physical discomfort and lose its appetite. Treatment depends upon what is causing the blockage.
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 the hairball through vomiting. This may not be possible with larger hairballs, especially those that have reached the intestines. In this instance, the hairball will cause a blockage.
Offer your cat a teaspoon of flaxseed oil. If it cat refuses, try fish oil. The aim is to lubricate the hairball. This will make it easier for your cat to pass.
You can also minimize the risk of hairballs by regularly grooming your cat. This will remove loose, dead fur. The less dead fur, the less it will swallow.
An intestinal blockage due to the ingestion of foreign objects may arise when cats have pica (eating non-food items.) If your cat is eating insoluble, indigestible items, intestinal blockages can happen.
The foreign object will need to be removed, preferably via the throat. Unfortunately, it has usually progressed into the gastrointestinal tract. This means the cat will need to be treated surgically. The item will be located via a scan and removed by a vet.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
A cat with IBD will experience painful inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which 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. A vet will prescribe medication, and your cat will be put on a specialist diet. Non-inflammatory foods will be selected to meet your cat’s dietary needs.
Your cat may have kidney problems. As the kidneys play a major role in digestion, the loss of optimum performance can have various symptoms.
Feline kidneys gradually start to fail over the course of a cat’s lifespan. All too often, there are few symptoms until the problem is advanced.
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. Symptoms of ARF include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden lethargy
- Inability to urinate, or excessive urination
- Bad breath
- Vomiting, especially if bloody (brown vomit)
Acute renal failure can be reversed if diagnosed sufficiently early. If the issue stems from toxicity, the poison will be flushed out with fluids.
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 swell. The kidneys are incapable of performing 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.
If your cat’s stomach is constantly gurgling, it’s most likely due to hunger, excessive consumption, or eating something disagreeable. If a rumbling stomach is combined with other physical symptoms, a vet will need to perform tests and scans to identify the underlying cause.