Is your cat’s stomach making strange gurgling noises? Don’t worry, it’s quite common to hear these sounds from time to time. However, it’s important to understand whether these noises are harmless or a sign of a more serious underlying issue. In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why your cat’s stomach might be gurgling and what steps you should take to address it.
Understanding Those Noises
Let’s start by delving into the science behind a gurgling stomach. The medical term for these noises is borborygmus. It occurs as a result of the movement of food through your cat’s digestive system. As the stomach and intestines mix solid, liquid, and gas particles, the gurgling sound is produced. The intensity and type of noise can vary depending on the contents of the digestive tract. An empty stomach may produce a typical growling sound, while a busy digestive tract might create prolonged gurgles. You might even hear squeaking noises coming from your cat’s stomach. In most cases, these sounds are harmless and can simply indicate hunger or the digestion process. However, if your cat’s stomach is making noises more frequently and is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, it could indicate a more serious problem.
Possible Causes of Cat Stomach Gurgling
1. Dietary Indiscretion
One common cause of stomach issues in cats is “dietary indiscretion.” This refers to the consumption of something that is not suitable for them, especially for cats with outdoor access. Scavenging or hunting behavior puts them at higher risk of stomach problems. While a one-time incident may only cause indigestion, repeated occurrences can disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, or signs of discomfort such as a gurgling stomach and flatulence. Additionally, some cats may have food intolerances, so it’s important to observe any patterns in your cat’s symptoms.
2. Foreign Bodies
Another concerning cause of gurgling stomachs in cats is the ingestion of non-food items, known as “foreign bodies.” These objects can become stuck in the stomach or intestines, leading to obstruction and potential damage or rupture. Cats with foreign bodies may experience stomach pain, loss of appetite, or vomiting. However, symptoms can also be mild, with gurgling sounds in the stomach being the first noticeable sign. If you suspect that your cat has ingested something they shouldn’t have, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately.
Intestinal worms and protozoan parasites like giardia or coccidia are a common cause of upset stomachs in cats. Some cats may not show any signs of infestation, while others might experience weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea. The severity of symptoms can be influenced by your cat’s overall health and immune system strength. Even if you don’t see worms in your cat’s feces, they may still be present in their intestines. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate worming medication and follow their advice.
Bacterial and viral infections are another potential cause of stomach issues in cats. The symptoms can vary from mild diarrhea to severe dehydration, depending on the infection and your cat’s immune system resilience. Cats with outdoor access are especially susceptible to these infections since they often come into contact with other cats. Vaccination is key to protecting your cat from the most serious infections. Consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines are necessary based on your location.
5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition that primarily affects older cats. It involves hypersensitivity of the intestines, resulting in inflammation triggered by various factors. This inflammation can disrupt normal digestion and lead to excess fluid or gas in the intestines. Symptoms of IBD in cats include unusual stomach noises, vomiting, diarrhea, and an increased frequency of bringing up hairballs. Additionally, some cats may develop a more severe condition called “triaditis,” which affects the intestines, bile duct, and pancreas simultaneously. If your cat exhibits signs of IBD, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment with your vet for proper diagnosis and management.
6. Metabolic Disorders
Sometimes, gurgling sounds in a cat’s stomach can be a symptom of a broader issue affecting their metabolism. For instance, hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormone, resulting in a high metabolic rate. Cats with hyperthyroidism may experience a fast heart rate, weight loss, and continuous hunger. The rapid movement of food through the digestive system can cause gurgling noises. Another metabolic disease that can lead to stomach problems is kidney disease. Cats with kidney disease may exhibit increased thirst, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect a metabolic disorder, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian.
What to Do if Your Cat has Stomach Issues
It’s natural to feel concerned when your cat is unwell. You may wonder whether you should try to care for them at home or rush them to the vet. Here are some suggestions based on your cat’s symptoms:
If your cat is experiencing vomiting, it’s important to address their hydration and nutrient intake. If they are extremely lethargic, unresponsive, or have blood in their vomit, it’s best to seek immediate veterinary care. Otherwise, you can follow these tips:
- Withhold food for eight hours to give the stomach a rest. Ensure your cat has access to room-temperature water.
- If vomiting subsides, gradually reintroduce bland food after 8-12 hours. Start with small quantities of grilled or boiled chicken or white fish.
- If your cat is unable to keep fluids down or continues to vomit after reintroducing food, consult your vet without delay.
If your cat has diarrhea without vomiting, you can take a different approach:
- Withhold food for a few hours and then transition to a bland diet.
- If diarrhea persists for more than 1-2 days or if your cat exhibits other concerning symptoms, consult a veterinarian.
Young kittens require special attention when they have stomach issues:
- If your kitten only has a gurgling stomach, feed them small portions frequently as their small stomachs require regular nutrition.
- If your kitten vomits or has diarrhea once but remains bright and active, don’t starve them. Instead, offer a bland diet. If they are still nursing, allow them access to their mother.
- If vomiting or diarrhea occurs more than once, seek veterinary care promptly.
The Road to Recovery
Once your cat is on the path to recovery with a bland diet, it’s crucial not to abruptly switch back to their regular food. Gradually reintroduce their normal diet over several days:
- Continue feeding the bland diet for at least five days to ensure the bowel has fully settled.
- Begin reintroducing their regular food by mixing a small amount into the bland diet for a couple of days. Gradually increase the ratio to 50:50 before transitioning back to their original diet.
If your cat fully recovers with this approach, it was likely a mild case of an upset stomach. However, if your cat experiences more than two episodes of stomach issues in a six-month period, keep a record of these events and discuss them with your vet. Sometimes, seemingly unrelated episodes can provide valuable information about your cat’s overall health.
While it’s normal for a cat’s stomach to gurgle occasionally, it’s essential to pay attention to their digestive health. If you have concerns about your cat’s condition or if their stomach noises are more frequent or accompanied by other symptoms, consult your veterinarian. Remember, prevention is key. Ensure your cat is up to date with vaccinations and receives routine preventative parasite treatments to avoid stomach issues in the future.