- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Having a good understanding of the feline digestive system can valuable for any cat parent. This, of course, includes feline flatulence—more commonly known as cat farts.
Though not all animals fart, cats certainly can and do. That said, many cat parents may not even realize that cats can pass gas, as they do so less frequently and less prominently than other species, like dogs and humans.
As with humans, cat flatulence occurs when too much gas builds up in the abdomen. Unlike humans, burping is extremely rare in cats, so that’s a less viable route for gas to escape the body. As such, it moves through the digestive tract until it can be expelled from the anus.
According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), flatulence is considered an “altered gastrointestinal function.” While it may not necessarily be a dangerous health issue, any deviance from what is considered the norm for digestion could be causing your cat discomfort. Luckily, once the cause is pinpointed, it can be easy to fix.
Causes of Cat Flatulence
Cats can pass gas for a number of reasons. Most commonly, cats can get gassy by accidentally swallowing air. According to Dr. Kristine Hoyt, a veterinarian at Cats on Call Hospital, it can also be caused by internal bacteria. “Cat gas is caused by an overpopulation of bacteria in the colon, not the normal good flora which aids digestion, but the bad guys,” she says. This excess of bad bacteria can be caused by eating too much food or eating the wrong type of food. They can also develop gas from hairballs, digestive disorders, or allergies to things like pollen and fleas.
If a cat isn’t passing gas very often and it isn’t excessively smelly, it’s likely just due to them swallowing air. This can easily happen to any cat, especially if they eat too much or too quickly.
If swallowing air doesn’t appear to be the cause of the flatulence, it’s very likely that it has to do with the food they’re eating. It’s important to take stock of how your pet is feeling if and when you change their diet. If you change their food and shortly thereafter they start developing gas, there’s a good chance that particular food is the culprit.
There are a number of popular cat food ingredients that can be gastronomically triggering to a sensitive cat. If your cat is having a difficult time digesting their food, as evidenced by flatulence, it may be best to skip the cheap cat food. Quality, minimally-processed ingredients will be easier to digest. Surprisingly, cats can also be sensitive to dairy and tuna, both of which can cause flatulence.
Flatulence can also be caused by human foods. Cat foods are designed to be properly broken down by their unique digestive systems, and once human food is added to the mix, it can throw things out of whack. If you’re going to feed your cat human food, it’s important to note what human foods are okay for cats to eat, and to stick to those. Of course, even if a human food is technically cat-safe, if you notice any flatulence or discomfort, it may not be jiving with your particular cat and it’s best to discontinue feeding it to them.
Additionally, make sure to cat-proof your trash if your pet has been known to get into things they’re not supposed to. An old rotting piece of meat can seem quite enticing to a cat, and it can really do a number on their digestion, leading to an unhappy kitty.
How to Curb Cat Flatulence
If a cat is farting because they’ve swallowed air, it could be helpful to try feeding them with a slow feeder. This product turns dinnertime into a fun activity and not just a race to the finish line.
If you suspect the issue is with your cat’s diet, it may take some trial and error to figure out. Choosing quality food with simple ingredients can be a good starting point. If you choose to add more complex ingredients back in and the problem returns, you’ve found the thing(s) they’re sensitive to.
Fiber is an important part of a cat’s diet and increasing their fiber intake if they’re not getting enough can help regulate their digestive system. However, if you increase their fiber too much and it can actually make gas worse. It’s important to find the right balance. Probiotics can also help keep your pet regular and happy.
Cat Flatulence and Health
If a cat’s farts are frequent and very foul-smelling, it could be indicative of a digestive issue like Tritrichomonasfoetus. If your cat has intense flatulence and/or other digestive symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting, it’s best to take them to the vet for an evaluation. If possible, bring a fresh fecal sample to help your vet evaluate what’s going on with your cat’s digestion.
Most of the time, a little flatulence in cats isn’t cause for concern. Their bodies are simply processing what’s passing through. If you have any questions about your cat’s digestion, your veterinarian can help you get to the bottom of what’s going on, and even provide personalized recommendations for food.