Cats are refined, dignified creatures—or so they would have you believe. Anyone who’s cleaned a litter box knows that cats are indeed capable of some crude acts. For instance, have you ever been sitting with your cat and suddenly got an unpleasant… whiff of something? In the case of he who smelt it did not dealt it, you’ve probably wondered: Do cats fart?
So… do cats fart?
Of course cats fart! (Just don’t acknowledge this fact in front of them.) As Litter-Robot resident veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee humorously puts it, cats release “odiferous essence” after all. It’s simply rare that you hear—or even smell—the act.
Why do cats fart?
Gas buildup in your cat’s digestive system results in flatulence, just as it does in any other animal (including humans). Most of the time, cats fart for perfectly normal reasons. For instance, if your cat eats quickly, he may also be swallowing too much air, which leads to gas buildup. We’ve outlined some of the reasons why cats fart below.
Finding the perfect diet for your cat is a bit like pleasing Goldilocks. Some cats have gastrointestinal sensitivities to certain ingredients or even types of food, such as canned cat food. Too much fiber in the diet can lead to gas, as can ingesting foods such as legumes or cruciferous vegetables. Generally, cats need a diet consisting of animal-based protein and fats. Make sure you’re not feeding your cat very much human food, as well.
Despite the saucer-of-milk stereotype, cats are typically lactose intolerant. Consuming dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can lead to an upset stomach in your cat, including flatulence.
As diet and food allergies may be causing your cat’s digestive issues, so might other allergies. These include environmental allergies such as dust and pollen, as well as pest allergies like fleas, mites, and tick bites.
Why do cats fart? Gastrointestinal parasites including tapeworms, roundworms, or hookworms may be to blame. Worms typically occur in cats that have not been appropriately dewormed, and are very common in young kittens. In rarer cases, the parasite could also be the recently recognized Tritrichomonas foetus.
Cats sometimes have an imbalance of gut bacteria, which can usually be corrected with probiotics. More serious causes for flatulence in cats include inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic issues, and some types of cancer.
When there’s cause for concern
If you notice your cat farting more than usual, or producing stronger or nastier-smelling gas, you should take him or her into the vet for an exam. Additionally, take action if your cat’s gas is accompanied by any of these symptoms:
- Noisy gut sounds (grumbling or contractions of the intestines)
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal-colored feces (such as black, tarry, or bloody)
- Straining to defecate
- More frequent visits to the litter box
- Smaller volume of feces in the litter box
- Greater urgency to use the litter box
- Decreased appetite or weight loss
Diagnosing and treating your cat’s gas
If you’ve tried different diets, avoided giving your cat dairy and other human foods, or have noticed your cat experiencing any of the more serious symptoms listed above, it’s time to involve a veterinarian. Bring in a fecal sample for parasite testing, and be prepared to answer questions about your cat’s diet.
If parasites are ruled out, your vet will want to do a full physical exam. This may include X-rays, blood tests, biopsies, an ultrasound, thyroid exam, or urinalysis to test for intestinal diseases. Exploratory surgery may even be recommended to check for intestinal blockages.
Treating your cat’s flatulence will depend on your vet’s diagnosis. Your vet can suggest simple dietary changes and treatment plans for pest allergies such as fleas. A more serious diagnosis may involve dewormers, antibiotics, corticosteroids, or other medications.
If all else fails, try feeding your cat smaller, more frequent meals. He or she may simply be gulping down too much food too fast, leading to excess air in the intestines.
So, do cats fart? Or should we say, do cats release odiferous essence? Indeed they do! Most of the time, though, they retain their dignity about it.
Cover photo by Max Baskakov on Unsplash