Cats are regal, elegant, and mysterious. They can also be messy, demanding, and–sometimes–gassy. While it’s not often you’ll hear your cat let out a burp or even a little toot from the *other* end, it does happen. Most of the time, a little emission is nothing to worry about but more frequent gas can be a sign that something’s going on in your cat’s sensitive biome.
What Is A Burp Anyway?
According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, a burp is simply “your body’s way of expelling excess air from your upper digestive tract. Most belching is caused by swallowing excess air. This air most often never even reaches the stomach but accumulates in the esophagus.” This excess air can have many causes: eating or drinking too fast, carbonated beverages, gum chewing, smoking, or even just as a result of a nervous habit.
Do Cats Burp?
Not really, but it can happen. Cats don’t chew gum or drink pop so they have less cause to burp. Cats primarily breathe from their noses which means extra air doesn’t tend to get into their gastrointestinal tracts.
Cats can burp here and there but shouldn’t be burping on a regular (say, daily) basis.
Why Would A Cat Burp?
If your cat is burping it’s a sign that there’s something going on in their GI tract. Many cats have sensitive bellies so indigestion, hairballs, grass eating, and acid reflux could cause a kitty to burp here and there.
Sometimes cats will burp if they’ve swallowed extra air when gulping down treats or after they’ve been given medication. This little gulp of extra air could cause a burp to come up.
If your kitty has recently undergone some type of surgery or had anesthesia, it is possible that burps could happen due to the digestive muscles “waking up” but this is rare.
Should I Be Worried If My Cat Is Burping?
If your cat is burping regularly–daily or even more frequently–there could be something going on that you’d want to check out with your vet. Underlying causes of regular burping can include:
- Esophagitis–this inflammation of the esophagus can be caused by the administration of oral medications. Sometimes the jagged edges of little pills can scrape up a kitty’s throat, leading to inflammation. This inflammation can cause burping. If you have to give your kitty pills, hiding them in food or using a pill gun can help avoid the discomfort caused by scratches to their little throats.
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)–IBD presents as generalized inflammation throughout the GI tract and it’s just as uncomfortable for cats as it is for humans. Burping might happen because of IBD but the symptoms you are more likely to see are vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, weight loss, lack of interest in food, and even bloody stools. IBD can be scary but it is usually successfully treated by changing your cat’s diet to a food that is minimally processed or formulated specifically for gut care.
- Respiratory noises–there are a host of other issues that might look like burping, or cause burping, that would warrant a vet visit. If your kitty seems to be suffering from nasal congestion, is hacking a lot, gagging, or seems to be having trouble swallowing there could be something else going on. The causes could range from some kind of foreign body lodged in the nasal passages to food allergies, heart problems, or even cancer so don’t wait to get your kitty checked out.
- Eating too fast–while most cats tend to eat smaller meals here and there, some cats will scarf food down and this can lead to swallowing extra air. If you have a scarfer you might consider offering your kitty smaller meals more frequently. You can also look into automatic feeders or puzzle bowls to help regulate how fast/how much your kitty is eating.
A great tip from the folks at PetMD is to “try recording a video of your cat making the burping sound or any other unusual sounds so you can show your veterinarian. As we know, pets are unlikely to show their symptom on arrival to the vet office!”
All this talk about cat gas brings us to another question that seems appropriate along these lines…
Do Cats Fart?
“Like other gastrointestinal functions, flatulence is a natural occurrence in animals. Though not as often (or as loudly) as dogs and humans, the dignified cat does, indeed, pass gas,” confirm the folks over at Hill’s.
Just like with a burp, a little toot here and there is normal for a cat. But if your kitty is tooting up a little symphony, there’s going to be a reason for it–usually, this is diet related and easily remedied by changing your cat’s diet. Human food can also cause kitty toots, so this is another reason not to feed cats treats off your plate (LINK). In rare instances, kitty farts can be caused by intestinal parasites that cause a real stink. If your cat is letting loose more often than here or there, best to check with your Vet.