Diagnosing Ascites in Cats

Ascites in cats is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, and can vary in severity. Usually, the build up of fluid is a gradual process. The fluid accumulating into the abdomen will come from blood vessels, abdominal masses or internal organs.

What Is the Function of the Abdominal Cavity?

The abdominal cavity is the biggest hollow space in a cat's body. It is situated on top of the pelvis and the diaphragm, and is home to many of the internal organs such as the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and the adrenal glands. It is lined by peritoneum, a membrane that fills the inside wall.

Ascites can greatly compromise your cat's health for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is damage to important internal organs. The sudden accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity can compress the organs and interfere with their normal functions.

Causes of Ascites in Cats

Ascites can have many possible causes, and none of these causes are good. Common causes of Ascites include the following:

  • Hypoalbuminemia, a condition that causes blood albumin levels to decrease
  • Right sided heart failure
  • Abdominal masses, due to an abscess, an aneurysm, blood vessel conditions, or enlarged organs
  • Peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal lining
  • Bleeding disorders that result in fluids leaking into abdomen
  • Malnutrition conditions, such as a potassium deficiency

Symptoms of Ascites

Symptoms of Ascites will vary depending on the degree of leakage and the severity of the condition. Many symptoms develop quickly, especially in the case of a large leakage. Other symptoms may develop slowly, on the other hand. Common symptoms associated with Ascites in cats include:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High fever
  • Changes in urinary or bowel habits
  • Sudden weakness
  • Sudden collapse or loss of consciousness

If you notice any of these symptoms and they appear to be severe, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Failure to address severe symptoms may result in serious complications or death.

Diagnosing Ascites in Cats

A veterinarian will diagnose Ascites in your cat. Common ways to diagnose the condition include:

  • A complete physical examination
  • Blood Testing
  • Urinalysis
  • Biochemical testing
  • Abdominal ultrasounds
  • Chest X-rays
  • Testing of abdominal fluids
  • Abdominal X-rays
  • Biopsy

Treatment for Ascites in Cats

Once the condition has been diagnosed and the root cause has been identified, the cat can begin treatment for Ascites. Common treatments for Ascites include:

  • The removal of fluids by therapeutic measures to remove pressure from internal organs
  • Diuretics, used to increase fluid excretion and reduce fluids in abdomen
  • Diuretics, used as antibiotics to fight infections
  • Dandelion supplements that remove excess fluid and provide potassium
  • Surgery, if condition is severe enough

Once the underlying cause of Ascites is addressed, the condition can be controlled easily and should clear up quickly. If the cause of Ascites is due to a life-threatening disorder such as heart problems or liver disease, the condition may not be curable and treatment may be lengthy.