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Also known as the abdomen, the belly is located between the chest and the pelvis. It houses the stomach and intestines as well as the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and bladder.
My cat has a swollen belly
A swollen belly is usually an indication of an underlying condition. Some common causes of swollen bellies in cats include:
- Bloat – Distension of the stomach due to swallowing too much air.
- Constipation/megacolon – Difficulty emptying the bowels due to hardened feces.
- Cushing’s syndrome – Endocrine disorder caused by excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal gland.
- Ascites – Fluid builds up in the abdomen due to heart disease, FIP, cancer, kidney disease, liver failure or trauma
- Intestinal blockage
- Intestinal worms – Especially roundworms
- Pyometra – Uterine infection
- Ruptured bladder
- Tumours of the liver, spleen, kidney, intestine
If you notice your cat has a swollen belly, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately to determine the cause. Diagnosis will be based on accompanying symptoms and may require some diagnostic tests. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
My cat has a belly pouch/floppy belly
A common question cat lovers ask me is “Why does my cat have a floppy belly?” This is known as the primordial pouch and is perfectly normal. For those of you who have never seen this, it is a loose flap of skin on the underside of the belly, just in front of the rear legs (see photograph to the left).
It is not entirely known what purpose the primordial pouch served, but it is believed it may be there to protect the cat’s belly (which of course houses the vulnerable internal organs) area during a fight.
Two breeds which have the primordial pouch written into the standard are the Bengal and the Pixie-bob.
Belly as a guide to your cat’s weight
The belly is a good way to tell if your cat is underweight, overweight or normal. You should be able to just feel the ribs when you stroke the belly. If they are easy to feel your cat is underweight, if you can’t feel them at all, he’s overweight.
Why do some cats show you their belly?
This is a sign of trust. A cat’s belly is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body as the abdominal organs are located there.
Be warned, some cats may roll over and expose their belly but may not want belly rubs, and you may find yourself on the receiving end of bites and scratches.