Cat Fluid in Abdomen

Cat fluid in the abdomen is also known as abdominal effusion or ascites. The causes for fluid buildup in the abdomen are varied and the treatment depends on the cause. Since fluid in a cat’s abdomen is a serious matter, you should seek medical help at the earliest so that the correct treatment can be administered after the cause has been confirmed.

Types of Fluid Buildup in a Cat’s Abdomen

There are various types of fluids that can accumulate in the abdomen of a cat. If there is an internal hemorrhage, blood can collect in the abdomen and urine can leak into the abdomen as a result of a tear in the urinary tract. Conversely, if a cat has infectious peritonitis, pus can accumulate in the abdomen and lead to swelling and fluid buildup.

Symptoms of Fluid Buildup in a Cat’s Abdomen

  • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing

Causes of Abdominal Fluid Buildup in Cats

There are several causes for abdominal fluid buildup in cats:

  • Trauma, rupture of blood vessels or bleeding disorders could result in the accumulation of blood in the abdominal cavity.
  • Heart disease, in which there is failure of the right side of the heart, can also cause fluid buildup in the abdomen as the heart loses its capacity to pump blood. This results in a buildup of pressure in the abdominal cavity and causes fluid accumulation as a result of portal hypertension.
  • Liver disease, inflammation of the kidneys or a decrease in the blood albumin levels are other conditions that result in abdominal fluid buildup.
  • Feline infectious peritonitis is also known to cause a buildup of yellow fluid in the abdominal cavity. Even if the fluid is drained to provide temporary relief, there will be a continued buildup of fluid if the cause of such fluid accumulation is feline infectious peritonitis. 

Diagnosis of the Fluid in the Cat's Abdomen

Your veterinarian will diagnose the cause of fluid accumulation by performing a physical exam and evaluating the pet’s medical history in addition to performing a complete blood profile, a urine analysis and an ascetic fluid evaluation. The fluid evaluation involves removal and analysis of the abdominal fluid for the presence of bacteria or bleeding. Chest and abdominal X-rays and ultrasounds are a few aids that further assist the veterinarian during diagnosis.


Treatment will vary with the cause. If there is bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed to control and eliminate the infection. However, if the cause is a tumor or internal bleeding, surgery is generally performed. The fluid needs to be removed to help the cat feel comfortable. Diuretics are also prescribed to help in the excretion of the fluid but they often remove excess body fluid and result in low levels of potassium. Blood transfusions might be required in cases where there is excessive loss of blood.

It's best to shower your pet with love and affection, and follow up with routine vet checks if your cat has been diagnosed with abdominal fluid accumulation.