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Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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My cats stomach started making gurgling noises about a month

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My cat's stomach started making gurgling noises about a month ago and although, he didn't go completely off his food, he was eating much less, seemed quite slow moving and depressed, and occasionally vomiting up undigested food. He went from weighing 3.8kg down to 3.2kg and although it is the middle of quite a bad winter here in the UK he doesn't appear to have as much fur as he usually does at this time of year. The fur he does have is looking healthy though and I brush him twice a day. In the last week he has perked up however, and is eating more but not putting on much weight (currently weighs 3.4kg). His stomach is still making gurgling noises however and he still retches occasionally but not actually sick. Any ideas what could be the problem?

Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer!

I'm sorry you have had such a long wait to get a response to your question. I just logged on and saw your question and have replied immediately.

I would like to help you and your cat with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

How old is your cat?


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
We are not sure exactly how old as he came to us as a stray but the vet thinks he is about 10/11 years old.
Regards, Alison

And do you think he is drinking any more than he used to?

Urinating more?

Any constipation, or conversely, any diarrhea?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Don't know about his exact toiletary habits as he goes out via the catflap but doesn't appear to be going out any more than usual and no accidents. I have noticed him drinking a bit more (although not a lot more) than usual though from his bowl. Again, he goes outside at will and often drinks out of puddles, the bath etc! Does not appear to be constipated though and doesn't flinch when you touch his tummy either.

Working on your answer and will be back shortly...

Thanks for your replies, they have been helpful!

So, clearly, there is *something* going on with your cat to cause him to have lost so much weight recently.

He is a senior citizen and a bit of a puzzle since he is giving us so few clues. The things that I would consider would be chronic renal insufficiency (CRI, kidney failure), hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid gland), or a combination of the two, diabetes and unfortunately we also have to consider neoplasia (cancer). These are the most common problems that I see in senior cats.

With chronic renal insufficiency cats tend to drink more, lose weight and have a diminished appetite. Some have vomiting. Many have dry hair coats and hair loss.

With hyperthyroidism, however, they tend to drink more, lose weight and have an INCREASED appetite. Some have vomiting, many have diarrhea.

With diabetes, cats also tend to eat and drink more, and have dry hair coats and hair loss as well.

With neoplasia, they may eat more or eat less, and lose weight.

As you can see, many of the symptoms overlap and with your kitty I don't know which of these descriptions fits best. All are treatable, to different degrees.

Let me explain a bit more about each of them and the treatment options:

1. Chronic renal insufficiency.

This is what I feel is most likely for your cat!

With this disorder, the kidneys have lost the ability to concentrate urine. So, the patient just produces dilute urine all the time, regardless of what is going on. For a cat with normal kidneys, if they don't drink for a while (say, because of feeling nauseated with a hairball), the kidneys just concentrate the urine and the cat keeps normally hydrated. Same as with a human who doesn't drink all night - the first morning urine is more concentrated because the kidneys are retaining all the water they can.

Now, if your cat's kidneys can't DO that, and just keep producing large quantities of dilute urine, he is going to start getting dehydrated. One of the first things that happens is that the body tries to draw water out of the feces and the cat gets constipated because the feces are now dry and hard, so it's harder to pass them.

Also, as the patient becomes slightly dehydrated, he tends to lose his appetite. Imagine yourself being really thirsty and someone offering you a steak. No matter how delicious you might think that is, you would be unable to eat much without having a drink first.

Kidney disease can be diagnosed by physical exam and analysis of a blood and urine sample. On a physical exam, I check the kidney size and shape. For treatment, the first step is a low-protein diet available through your vet clinic. The patient may also need supplemental potassium, and perhaps fluids given under the skin to correct any dehydration.

Here is more information:


Now, as to the stomach rumblings, from what you are describing I am suspicious that your cat may have uremic gastritis. This is like heartburn, and is fairly common with cats with CRF.

With uremic gastritis, there is too much stomach acid produced and cats can reflux into their esophagus. As with heartburn in humans this is very irritating, and may be why she has stomach rumblings (borborygmus).

This is something that can be treated with antacids like famotidine or ranitidine (also known as Pepcid and Zantac resptectively).

I will give you links:

Legally I cannot prescribe drugs for a cat I have not examined.

I can tell you, however, that I often suggest people purchase Pepcid AC for cats with uremic gastritis and give 1/4 of a 10mg tablet twice daily. I would recommend you talk to your vet about whether this may be appropriate for your kitty.

More about esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus from reflux of gastric acids):

And more about CRF and uremic gastritis:

2. Hyperthyroidism.

This is a common disorder of older cats in which the thyroid gland in the neck starts to over-produce a hormone called T4. T4 controls metabolic rate. So, the more you have of it, the faster the metabolism. Cats that are hyperthyroid tend to eat voraciously, but lose weight because they burn the calories up so fast. Their heart rates increase, and the transit time through the intestines increases. So, they may develop diarrhea and vomiting, but not always.

Hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed by physical exam and blood and urine analysis. On a physical exam, I check for enlarged thyroid glands, and a rapid heart rate, and sometimes heart murmurs. Blood and urine tests allow a vet to confirm the diagnosis.

Hyperthyroidism responds really well to treatment. The treatment options are oral medication (usually twice daily, always for the rest of kitty's life), surgery, or radioactive iodine treatment (this last is the BEST treatment because it gives you a cure, but it is expensive).

3. Diabetes mellitus is also on the list of possibilities.

When a normal animal eats, the intestines absorb the calories into the bloodstream as glucose. So, now there is a lot of glucose in the blood. BUT it cannot get into the muscles or other cells that need it without insulin. You absolutely have to have insulin to get glucose from the blood into the cells. And it is the cells that need the glucose; the bloodstream is just a road that delivers it to the cells.

So, now there is a lot of glucose in the blood and it can't go anywhere. This then starts to spill into the urine - so now you have glucose in the urine. Glucose is a really large molecule, and where-ever it goes, it pulls water with it. So, all that glucose in the urine pulls a lot of water out into the urine with it, and suddenly the animal is urinating large quantities. This makes him dehydrated, so he has to drink huge amounts to try to stay hydrated.
Animals with diabetes thus drink an enormous amount of water. Also, they have ravenous appetites because their cells are starving as none of the glucose can get into them. So, they eat a lot and urinate a lot.
Diabetes can usually be managed with insulin injections and/or with prescription food plus pills depending on how far advanced it is.
I'll give you some links to further information:

4. Unfortunately, we also have to consider neoplasia (cancer) because your kitty is older and there has been dramatic weight loss.

Hyperthyroidism and CRI are FAR more common, however, so don't panic! To diagnose cancer, a vet would start with a complete physical exam to try to feel for internal masses, and would do blood work to rule out other problems. X-rays and biopsies might be needed.

If the tests for hyperthyroid disease and CRI were negative, and other blood tests were all normal, I would have to start considering cancer, unfortunately.

Some forms of cancer grow as a mass or lump and can be palpated in the belly or seen on x-rays. Some forms of cancer invade as tiny little cells all through-out an organ like the gastrointestinal tract. They are hard to detect because you can't palpate them, and you can't see them on an x-ray because they are scattered throughout the organ. In these cases, ultrasound and biopsy or exploratory surgery and biopsy can be used to make a diagnosis. Looking at a piece of the organ under a microscope is the only way to see if there are cancer cells there. Many types of cancer in cats respond really well to chemotherapy medication. There are even chemo protocols that consist of pills that the owner can give at home. Cats have minimal side effects from many chemo drugs - NOTHING like as severe as humans.

There are so many forms of cancer that it is hard for me to provide a link, but I'll give you one for a common type of cancer:

So, in summary, it sounds as though your cat may have hyperthyroidism CRI or possibly neoplasia. From what you have described, my best guess would be that kidney disease (CRI) is most likely. A check up and blood tests with your vet will help to make this diagnosis, and get him started on treatment to help him gain weight! I encourage you to take him in today or tomorrow as his condition sounds serious!

So, although I can't tell you what is wrong with your kitty, I hope I have given you some directions to explore with your vet.

Now, I understand you may have financial limitations, so I have some suggestions for what you can do at home to help. What you can do is try to get some calories into him in liquid form - that way he is getting nutrition at the same time as fluids.

I suggest opening a can of tuna *in water* and offering him the liquid, diluted 50:50 or more with water.

Also, you can pick up Clam Juice in most grocery stores (sold in with the V8 or with the canned tuna in my grocery store) and mix that with some water.

You could try Lactose Free milk (Lactaid is the Canadian brand).

Offer him some canned cat food, and mix it with water to make a slurry if he won't eat it.

Things you can do to encourage a cat to drink are:

- offer water from a very wide flat bowl as cats don't like their whiskers to touch the edges when they drink (which is why lots of cats like the toilet bowl).

- If he likes dripping water, leave a tap dripping for him.

- Offer bottled water and see if he prefers it.

- Offer onion free chicken or beef broth, diluted 50:50.

- See if he likes water with an ice cube in it.

- See if he likes it out of a cup or martini glass.

- Offer Whiskas CAt Milk

- Offer him canned food as the first ingredient in water

- You could try getting some human baby food in meat flavours (check that there are no onions or garlic in the ingredients) and mix that with warm water and offer that, or syringe it in little bits into your cat's mouth. Beech Nut makes a line of baby food that has nothing but meat (beef, chicken, turkey or veal) in it.

Here's a link:

If you cannot find this, you could find another meat baby food - just read the label carefully to be sure there are no onions, onion powder, garlic, or garlic powder in it.


I do hope that this helps you to help your cat and that he feels better soon!

If this has been helpful, please Accept my answer and leave feedback.

If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.



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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks Fiona, that has helped clarify things for me. I shall get him checked out even though he appears to be much healthier this week.
You are very welcome!

If this is kidney disease, the sooner he is started on treatment, the better!