Acute Painful Abdomen in Cats

An acute abdomen is an emergency that can lead to death unless treatment is started as soon as possible. The condition is characterized by the sudden onset of abdominal pain along with vomiting, retching, extreme restlessness and inability to find a comfortable position, purring, meowing, crying, grunting, and labored breathing. The abdomen is extremely painful when pressed. A characteristic position is sometimes seen in which the cat rests his chest against the floor with his rump up in the air. As the condition worsens, his pulse becomes weak and thready, his mucous membranes appear pale, and he goes into shock.

One of the following may be the cause:

  • Urinary tract obstruction
  • Blunt abdominal trauma (such as being kicked or hit by a car) with internal bleeding
  • Rupture of the bladder
  • Perforation of the stomach and/or intestines
  • Poisoning
  • Rupture of a pregnant uterus
  • Acute peritonitis
  • Intestinal obstruction

A cat with an acute abdomen is critically ill and needs immediate veterinary attention.

This article is excerpted from “Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.