It’s normal for a cat’s stomach to occasionally gurgle. Just like humans, feline stomachs rumble while hungry. Rest assured, your pet will inform you when it wants food. There are other, potentially more serious, reasons for a cat’s stomach to gurgle.
Gurgling and rumbling sounds could be a normal part of digestion. Noises immediately before or after eating are nothing to worry about. However, parasites, obstructions or digestive tract conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease could be responsible. If your cat is also vomiting or showing other signs of distress, you should consult a vet.
Learning the difference between regular stomach noises in cats and warnings of potential ill health is pivotal. There is no need to rush to the vet if your cat is digesting food. If they do have a stomach issue, however, early intervention may help them recover sooner.
My Cat’s Stomach is Gurgling After Eating
The gurgling sound of a stomach digesting food is very common. It’s so common that it has a scientific name – borborygmus.
Put your ear to your cat’s stomach after they eat, and you’ll likely hear these gurgles. They result from gas in your cat’s stomach gently releasing as part of the digestive process. The sounds should last for a short while as your cat relaxes, then stop again.
You may even hear these noises before your cat eats. This is because your pet’s digestive tract will undergo its usual routines. However, an empty stomach causes the sound to echo. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever hear your cat’s stomach rumble, though. Most domestic felines will never let you wait that long to feed them.
Medical Reasons for Cat’s Stomach Gurgling
If your cat’s stomach seems to gurgle all day every day, they are likely unwell. The same is true if these sounds are particularly loud. The explanations for constant, loud stomach gurgling include:
Does your cat emit a loud belch after eating? This is likely if they eat particularly quickly, swallowing air at the same time. This can also lead to a bloated stomach. If your cat eats at a rate of knots, divide their food into multiple, smaller servings.
Even a cat that has its parasite treatment can have parasites. Other parasites can also rear their head, especially if your cat hunts wild rodents.
3) Stomach Ulcers
A feline gastrointestinal ulcer can, unfortunately, be very difficult to spot. Thankfully, they are also comparatively rare. See a vet if your cat is acting out of sorts alongside a gurgling stomach.
A vet will run many tests to determine if internal bleeding is to blame. Wag Walking provides more information on these dangerous issues.
4) Stomach Viruses
Gastroenteritis is the most common. This infection usually involves a cat vomiting, sometimes with blood. Diarrhea is also a common symptom.
Gastroenteritis can be very dangerous for cats, as it often leads to dehydration. If your cat is vomiting regularly, get them to a vet. They may need to replace fluids intravenously.
5) Inability to Digest Food (Malabsorption)
If your cat is struggling to digest food, it will make all kinds of noise. There are many possible reasons why a cat struggles to digest food. Dry food is particularly hard for a feline stomach to process, and often sits heavy in the gut.
If your pet eats more than their stomach can process, it will often reappear as vomit. Alternatively, your cat may have a blockage that prevents them from digesting.
If your cat has swallowed string, see a vet. This will need to be removed from their digestive tract. Failing to do so can lead to foreign body wrapping around the intestines, preventing digestion.
6) Irritable Bowel Disease
If your cat has a noisy stomach before regular diarrhea, they likely have IBS. This condition is usually an accident of birth. However, it can also be sparked by stress, allergies, and poor diet.
Feline IBS cannot be cured, but it can be managed with drugs. With the appropriate care and a special diet, your cat can still live a full life. As with gastroenteritis, however, see a vet if your cat appears dehydrated.
Cats can struggle with indigestion if they eat too much rich food. This is especially common if your pet eats at other houses during the day. An excess of treats can also cause a problem.
Indigestion is very painful, and can have a long-term impact on your cat’s health. You’ll need assistance from a vet to deal with chronic indigestion in your cat.
If the problem gets any worse, your cat may become reluctant to eat.
Squeaking Noises from My Cat’s Stomach?
Squeaking from your pet’s belly is not a live mouse that they hunted and swallowed whole. Instead, it should be treated the same way as rumbling and gurgling. It amounts to the same thing.
If you’re convinced that your cat’s stomach is noisy because they’re sick, squeaking should be investigated. If it only happens in the immediate aftermath of eating, however, just keep one eye open. If the issue goes away as soon as it arrives, you can relax.
My Cat’s Stomach is Rumbling, but They Won’t Eat
A rumbling and growling stomach is a universal sign of hunger, in all species. Cats are no exception to this. If your cat feels that you’re delaying dinner, they’ll be sure to tell you. Expect to be followed around the house, and to be subjected to increasingly frustrated meowing.
Sometimes, however, you may place your cat’s food down and find that they won’t eat. This can be frustrating, but don’t grow angry with your pet. It’s likely that they’re not just being fussy. There could be many reasons why they won’t eat. These can include:
1) Dental Pain
If your cat is having tooth trouble, no amount of hunger will make them eat. You have to remember, toothache hurts. This will not stop your cat from getting hungry.
This, in turn, will not prevent them from asking for food. When they try to eat, however, your cat may find themselves unable to do so.
2) Side Effects of Medications
Is your cat taking medication for a pre-existing medical condition? Have they recently been vaccinated? If so, they may be experiencing side effects. This could stop them from eating.
Your cat may lose their appetite completely. Alternatively, they may assume that they’re hungry but struggle to follow through. Your pet may need to switch medications.
3) Stress and Anxiety
If your cat is stressed, they’ll be unable to relax long enough to eat. They may pace around the bowl and sniff the food, but they’ll rarely tuck in. Ironically, feeding your cat late or on an erratic schedule can cause stress
This sounds counter-productive, but welcome to the world of cats. Just focus on getting your cat into a routine, and keeping them calm and happy.
4) Whisker Fatigue
Whisker fatigue refers to sensitivity in your cat’s whiskers. These fine hairs are attached to nerve endings, and they’re extremely sensitive.
This means that they receive stimuli and messages all day, every day. If your cat’s food is housed in a high-edged bowl, this may irritate their already-tender whiskers. Your cat may tip the bowl over. If not, empty their meal onto a flat dish.
It may be that your cat wants to eat, but they’re unable to do so. This suggests that they have an obstruction somewhere in their digestive tract.
The most common example of these is a hairball. A hairball can be treated at home by applying Vaseline to feline paws. Your cat will lick this off, and lubricate its digestive tract.
Your cat may be feeling under the weather for a variety of reasons. Force of habit may demand that they ask for food. Their stomachs will naturally rumble if left empty for long enough. If your cat is unwell, however, a loss of appetite will often follow.
Loss of appetite is a symptom of a great many health concerns. They range from the comparatively minor to major, potentially fatal ailments.
7) Unappealing Temperature or Texture
OK, so it is possible that your cat is a picky eater. A cat’s tongue is a very elaborate piece of organic machinery. It needs things to be just so to appeal to feline taste buds.
If your pet’s meal is straight from the fridge, they won’t be interested. Cats will only eat food that’s room temperature. Equally, they’ll be deterred by excessive dryness.
Remember what wild cats eat – rodents, and other smaller prey animals. This means that they’ll want their meal to be at least a little moist.
If your cat does not eat, take it seriously. Even if your pet is overweight, it won’t survive long without food.
How Do I Know if My Cat Has a Sensitive Stomach?
Some cats are naturally prone to sensitive stomachs, and have unique dietary requirements.
Some cats get used to having things all their own way, and become picky eaters. If they’re not in the mood for something, they won’t eat. Cats know that we won’t let them starve. If they wait long enough, we’ll give an offer something else.
Other felines, however, cannot process certain foods. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, they may vomit or experience diarrhea after eating certain ‘trigger foods.’ Other signs of stomach sensitivity can include pain in the abdomen, and blood in the stool.
To learn if your cat has a medical condition or is just fussy, speak to a vet. They will be able to run many tests. It’s best to avoid experimenting with your pet’s food, and taking a trial and error approach. If you keep changing your cat’s food, even a healthy cat’s stomach will reject it.
How Do I Know the Best Diet to Feed My Cat?
Cat breeds have different physiology, which could tie into their dietary requirements. A cat with a small mouth, for example, may eat differently to those with larger, stronger teeth.
Also, cats at different life stages of their life cycle require different nutrients. This is without even getting into personal preference.
The most important things to consider when feeding your cat are:
- Look for food that satisfies AAFCO guidelines. The Association of American Feed Control Officials provides strict guidelines on ingredients and processes involving cat food. Seek an AAFCO label on your pet’s food which announces that the product meets these high standards. If not, you will need to consider additional supplements.
- Count calories. A typical cat needs around 200 calories per day. It may be OK to exceed this if your pet is particularly active. Don’t starve your portly feline, though. This could lead to them becoming ill-tempered.
- Offer plenty of protein. Cats need protein to live. This should come from animal products, as these will contain Taurine. Cats do not generate this essential acid organically, so they get it through their food. Raw feeding is not advisable, though. Raw meat could contain any number of harmful bacteria.
Draw up a meal plan with your vet if concerned about your cat’s food. If purchasing a commercial food, pick something that’s suitable for your cat’s breed, weight, and age.
Don’t neglect what your cat likes, though. Cats are typically much more stubborn than humans. They’ll hold out for something more to their taste, potentially harming their health.
My Cat Has a Swollen Belly
If your cat’s stomach is bloated and noisy, take it seriously. This is rarely a good sign. Sometimes it’s just down to weight gain, but even this needs to be managed. Overweight pets, especially senior felines, can be prone to all kinds of health concerns.
There are five common reasons for a swollen belly in cats:
1) Weight Gain
A cat that eats too much and exercises too little will grow a belly. It’ll be clear if your cat’s belly is swollen through weight gain, rather than sickness. The swelling will reach their face, and their legs.
Fat cats can be quite funny to look at, but feline obesity is no laughing matter. If your cat is not a healthy weight, they risk developing health concerns. Some of the most common include:
- Arthritis and painful joints
- Leg fractures when jumping from a height
- Heart disease
Older cats are particularly at risk when they become overweight. It’s only natural that your pet will start to wind down when they reach senior status. You’ll need to adjust their food intake to complement this lower level of physical activity, though.
As with humans, the key to losing weight for cats is a simple formula. They need to burn more calories than they consume. Speak to your vet to devise a diet and exercise plan.
You’ll need to devise games that your senior cat will engage with to get them moving. As even older cats remain food-focused, having them work for their treats is usually effective.
2) Organ Failure
As cats grow older, their internal organs start to fail. The kidneys, liver, and heart are the organs most commonly impacted by age. As they cease working appropriately, failing to eliminate toxins, fluid and waste collect in the body. This causes the swollen and distended belly that you are noticing.
Sadly, there is no cure for any of these issues. They are the unavoidable impact of the aging process. If you catch them early enough, medication will manage and slow down the problems.
3) Infectious Diseases
Sometimes, a swollen belly is a sign of infectious disease. The most dangerous of these is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
FIP stems from a condition known as coronavirus. Coronavirus is common, and is passed between felines that live in close quarters. Shelters and kennels can be breeding grounds for coronavirus.
Coronavirus itself is rarely dangerous, and usually rights itself. If it mutates into FIP, however, your cat will be in grave danger. A swollen belly is the most common symptom, though your cat may also struggle to breathe. FIV can become fatal, very quickly.
It’s possible that a suddenly swollen belly points to cancer. This is especially likely if your cat will not allow you to touch their stomach.
Sometimes this condition shows no additional symptoms. Some cats may go off their food and become very lethargic, though. A vet can run an ultrasound to determine what’s wrong.
Treatment depends on how far along your pet’s cancer is. A vet may try to keep senior cats comfortable for as long as possible. If your cat is a little younger and healthier, however, chemotherapy or radiotherapy could be an option. These will be expensive and traumatic treatments, so ensure that you’re doing the right thing.
5) Parasite Infestation
Cats of any age can be at risk of a variety of worms. This is why it’s essential that you remain up-to-date on preventative treatments. Common intestinal parasites that impact upon cats include:
None of these infections will be pleasant for your cat to deal with, and must be treated. In addition to standard preventative treatments, you can also keep your cat safe by practicing good hygiene. Clean their litter box thoroughly, and monitor their hunting. Cats that eat wild rodents could be ingesting any number of parasites.
A cat’s stomach gurgling can be a paradoxical sound. On the one hand, it denotes a happy tummy that is contentedly full. On the other, it could be a warning sign of ill health. It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to monitor your feline, and judge accordingly.
If your cat’s stomach gurgles after eating, it’s normal. You only need to worry if the noise seems to occur constantly. A regularly rumbling stomach is a sign that something is amiss.