Abdominal Cavity Inflammation in Cats

Peritonitis in Cats

The abdominal cavity is lined with a thin, watery membrane, called the peritoneum. When the cat’s abdominal cavity, also called the peritoneal cavity, is injured, the peritoneum becomes inflamed. The severity of the inflammation depends on the type of injury the peritoneal cavity has undergone. Peritonitis is frequently a painful condition, and the cat will respond when it is touched on its abdomen.

Peritonitis can affect both dogs and cats. To learn more about how it affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Animal positions itself in a “praying” position for relief of pain
  • Low blood pressure and signs of shock
  • Increased heart rate
  • Possible abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)

Causes

  • Peritonitis
    • Caused by the spread of a causative agent through the blood
  • Secondary peritonitis (caused by an injury elsewhere in the body)
  • Common form
    • Caused by injury to the abdominal cavity or hollow organs
  • Bacterial or chemical contamination:
    • Opening of surgical sites
    • Penetrating abdominal wounds
    • Blunt abdominal trauma
    • Severe inflammation of the pancreas
    • Filling of the abdomen with pus
    • Liver abscesses (inflamed swelling with pus)
    • Prostatic cysts — in males, inflamed swelling with pus from the prostate gland
    • Rupture of the gallbladder, urinary bladder, or bile duct

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your cat, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel. You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian an indication of whether other organs are causing the condition or are being affected.

Radiograph and ultrasound imaging are critical for visualizing the presence of free fluid in the abdomen, free gas in the abdomen, and an abscess, if it is present. A fluid sample taken by abdominocentesis should be done so that a sample can be stored in a vacuum blood collection tube (EDTA tube) for laboratory analysis. If fluid cannot be recovered during an abdominocentesis, a diagnostic peritoneal lavage (stomach wash) can be done.

peritoneum

The membrane that covers the wall of the abdomen and pelvic area

parenteral

The administration of something through a route other than the normal route, which is through the gastro intestinal tract

peritonitis

A medical condition in which the peritoneum becomes inflamed

pus

A product made of fluid, cell waste, and cells

urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

pancreas

A gland that aids in both digestive and insulin functions

prostate gland

The gland around the urethra that secretes the fluid to allow sperm to move about

lavage

Irritating tissue with a great deal of some type of fluid

abscess

A localized infection, usually a lesion filled with pus. Can be large or small in size.

abdominocentesis

Abdominocentesis is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the abdomen of the animal to remove fluid. In most cases, abdominocentesis is used to make a diagnosis of some sort in a sick animal.

bile

The fluid created by the liver that helps food in the stomach to be digested.

blood pressure

The amount of pressure applied by the blood on the arteries.

digestive tract

The whole system involved in digestion from mouth to anus

abdominal cavity

The space in the abdomen that holds the major digestive organs in an animal. Normally referred to as the area between the diaphragm and the pelvis. Also referred to as the peritoneal cavity.

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