Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I understand that you are concerned about Shy's potbellied appearance.
In most cases kittens with a pot belly have a large number of gastrointestinal parasites. Once we discover what parasites he has and treat them appropriately his abdomen should look normal.
Rarely an enlarged abdomen can be a sign of something more serious, especially if it is fluid filled. It can be a sign of a disease called FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), heart disease or a congenital organ defect, such as abnormal liver vessel formation called a portosystemic shunt.
If he is bright, alert, happy and playful, eating, drinking and growing well then I highly recommend having a stool sample checked by a veterinarian and treating him for common parasites with a wormer called pyrantel or Drontal (pyrantel and praziquantal) which is even more comprehensive.
If he seems small for his age, not eating well, and isn't active and alert, or if his abdomen has fluid in it then we should look a little closer for a cause and be more concerned.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
He seems to have gotten more pronounced since we had him neutered about a month ago. He is still eating fine.
Thanks for the reply.
His neuter shouldn't have anything to do with the size of his abdomen. In male cats the gonads are located outside of the abdomen so we don't need to enter inside the body wall, the surgery is all performed outside the abdominal wall.
I am glad to hear that he is eating well. I would still be most suspicious of parasites but if testing and treatment doesn't seem to help, and he seems thin other then a enlarged abdomen, then we need to look further. I would be concerned about FIP in a young cat. Given that he handled anesthesia well for his neuter an abnormal congenital organ problem seems less likely.
Is FIP treatable?
No, unfortunately we do not have any good treatments for FIP.
The trouble is that FIP is caused by a combination of things, exposure to a corona virus and the individual's immune system's over-reaction to the virus leading to the symptoms we see. Most cats are exposed to corona virus some time in their lives but most do not develop FIP, only a very small percentage do. We aren't sure why some cats do and some cats don't but it seems young cats (less than a year of age) are most likely to develop the disease. Diagnosis is difficult because even positive antibodies to the virus only mean exposure to the virus. We need a combination of things including abdominal fluid with high protein amounts, rising corona virus titers, high levels of particular blood proteins, good appetite but small size and poor musculature and coat condition, to name some of the more common ones.
I like to look for the more common and treatable diseases so that's why I recommend looking for parasites, especially in an outdoor cat.