Causes of Flatulence in Cats

Causes of Flatulence in Felines

Photo of Cat Bubba on Asa's Shoulders
Bubba on Asa's Shoulders. photo © Franny Syufy

My first experience with cat farts was many years ago, when Bubba and my husband Asa were still alive. The three of us shared a California King bed, with Bubba in the middle. One night, I was drifting off to sleep when my nostrils flared to an incoming pungent odor coming from somewhere to the left of me. I was just about to say something when Asa mumbled, "Was that you?"  Bubba rolled over on his back, I heard a little "toot," and I swear he had a smile on his face.

Feline Flatulence

While we may make jokes about farting, it has been around for thousands of years. Indeed, Emperor Claudius once expounded on farts.

As the years passed since Bubba, I haven't thought a whole lot about cat farts, until we adopted our tuxedo kittens. Our little adopted kitten, Gaither, along with Sage (adopted at the same time) have had a number of medical issues since coming to live with us. The more serious ones include Conjunctivitis, then later, chlamidia, both of them URIs (Upper Respiratory Infections.).

However, Gaither had very smelly diarrhea for several weeks, which would come and go, along with the farting. I brought a stool sample to our vet of what I thought was Gaither's, but it tested negative for any likely parasites, including Giardia. Later, I found a smelly but clean (no litter) sample in the litter box and prepared a sample which was taken to our vet for testing.

While I worried about the potential cause of it, having the actual facts at hand are always better than worry about the unknown.

The results of the stool sample came back the next day: positive for giardia and positive for chlamidia, both intestinal parasites.  According to the Centers for Diease Control and Prevention (CDC), giardia may be transferred from pets to humans, although more often humans get it from contaminated drinking water.

Again, according to the CDC, "The clinical signs range from subclinical to slight abdominal discomfort to severe abdominal pain and cramping. When the diarrhea occurs, it is soft to watery, it frequently has mucus on the surface, it can have a strong odor."

Since at the time, I was particularly immunocompromised (diabetes and pneumonia), my veterinarian told me to leave the litter box chores to my son, avoid close contact with our cats, and definitely not to allow them to give me any kitty kisses. It was difficult to avoid contact with my cats, particularly Gaither, who is my little love-bug, always following me around the house like a puppy, and Jenny, who shares my bedroom and my bed with me.

Litter Box Care With Giardia Present in the Home

Dr. Jamie recommended that my son wear rubber gloves when scooping the litter box and disposing of the scoopings in plastic bags. Then, when finished, to dispose of the gloves and give his hands, fingernails, and arms a good scrubbing with hot water, I assume similar to what surgeons would do prior to performing surgery. Also, the litter boxes should be periodically emptied entirely, and scrubbed inside and out with soapy water, followed by bleach.

Although it was raining and cold at the moment, ideally, the litter boxes should be air dried in the sunlight, as described in my article, Litter Box Maintenance

Other Feline Conditions of the Bowel and Rectum

Giardia is only one of several other conditions of the bowel and rectum. For example, ​​anal gland impaction can be a very serious and painful condition. One of the first symptoms is when a cat scoots along the floor on his butt. And the odor is one of the worst I've ever smelled. Although you can learn to express your cat's anal sacs yourself, I would much rather trust the veterinarian with this task.

Other conditions include:

  • Linear Foreign Body (aka String-Swallowing)
    This has the potential of being a fatal condition. Caution: never pull on the string, but consider string-swallowing a veterinary emergency.

  • Rectal Prolapse
    The photo in this article by Max's House will give you a good idea what it looks like. I would consider it a veterinary emergency and take my cat to the vet ASAP.

  • Constipation
    I would consider constipation more of a symptom than of a medical condition, However fecal impaction should be treated by a veterinarian immediately, as it can lead to worse problems. Later, it can be mitigated by diet.

While we may make jokes about farting, our cats' health is of prime importance, and an innocent enough passing of gas may very well indicate more serious medical conditions.

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