Thursday, March 6, 2014


Good morning,   32 degrees  windy and chilly.

Great Balls of Fire!
What’s Behind Feline Flatulence?

By Jill Anne Sparpany

Have you ever been sitting next to your innocent-faced favorite kitty and suddenly smelled the dreaded “Silent but Violent” gas pass? Great balls of fire – light a match! It wouldn't be so bad if they made a puckered face that would give you some warning. Oh, tears in my eyes!

So what really is behind cat gas? The actual medical term for passing gas is ‘flatulence’ and the gas produced in the intestinal tract that is expelled anally is called ‘flatus’ (pronounced FLAY-tuss). Sounds so much better than feline farts!

One source said 99% of kitty flatus is odorless. The smelliest ones must be saved up for the most embarrassing times for the owner, like when you have family over for the holiday dinner!

Humans also produce gas and pass it, but it is different from the gaseous processes in cats. The primary components of flatus are five odorless gases: nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and oxygen. Where do these gases come from?

Some of these gases come from swallowed air by eating too fast or eating too soon after exercise. Some medical conditions contributing to excess flatus are swallowing air when eating due to any respiratory disease that causes increased respiratory rate, acute and chronic intestinal illnesses, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), obesity/overweight, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, or neoplasia (tumors, cancer). Any inflammation of the intestine can produce excess flatulence, such as viruses or parasites, or pancreatic dysfunction (pancreas does not function normally).

Brachycephalic breed cats, cats that have short heads such as the Himalayan and Persian breeds, tend to swallow a lot of air.

Causes of excess gas production can occur with diet changes and serious gastrointestinal disease. If there is a sudden increase in the flatus, foul odor, or vomiting and/or diarrhea, a vet check-up should be scheduled to rule out medical conditions. Any abdominal pain, abdominal rigidity, bloating or distension, tenderness, bloody stool or distress vocalizations should be treated as an emergency! Get your CAT to the VET – STAT!  

THIS IS PHOTOSHOPPED!!   Showing Big Time Fart!!

Excess diarrhea may cause anal area skin breakdown. This area is easily irritated by liquid feces and frequent diarrhea stool passing. It is painful! The cat with frequent diarrhea may not be able to reach the litter box in time or may begin to associate the litter box with pain and start to avoid it. Ask your vet for a safe ointment to protect the raw anal area while the diarrhea is resolving. You may want to help Fluffy get to the litter box without accidents by placing additional litter boxes in the home during this time.

Are there certain foods that tend to produce more gas than others, just like with humans? YES!
Any foods that are difficult to digest will spend more time in the intestinal tract and are subject to bacterial fermentation. It is the fermentation process that produces the gas for the odoriferous emissions!

Cats are carnivores – they are meat eaters! High protein with fat and LOW carbohydrate diets are the best for your cat’s health!
Foods that are difficult to digest are ones that use grains – wheat, corn, beans, soybeans and peas – for the significant protein source. The percentages of ingredients on pet food labels are listed with highest percentage as the first ingredient, second highest percentage is second ingredient, etc.
So if the first ingredient is chicken, it is the most predominant ingredient present and is listed in its percentage related to the other ingredients in the food.

Carnivores do not digest grains and do not seek grains in the wild. The only grains cats ingest are the grains and grasses present in their prey’s digestive system, i.e. what the mouse has eaten. The digestion of grains in the cat’s intestinal tract is not efficient since they do not have the enzymes to breakdown the high carbohydrate content in grains.

Cats also lack the enzyme, lactase, which breaks down the milk sugar, lactose.
**  Glucose, dextrose, lactose are carbohydrates/sugars (they end in –OSE)
**  Lactase, maltase, amylase are the enzymes that breakdown complex carbohydrates or sugars into small carbohydrate molecules (glucose) to be used for metabolic processes. (they end in –ASE)
This is why cats cannot tolerate milk and dairy products. They lack the enzyme, Lactase! The only time they have lactase is when they are kittens to help digest their mother’s milk. After weaning, cats do not normally produce lactase because they begin to eat proteins and fats. The inability to digest milk sugar, lactose, is lactose intolerance.

Other causes of excess flatus production:
High-fat diets
High-fiber diets
Food allergies
Older cats may have difficulty digesting hard food (dry kibble is harder to digest)
Spoiled food, which may be accessible in garbage cans

Prevention of excess flatus production:
Feeding high protein, grain-free diet. Look for highly digestible premium quality cat food –
Meat should be the first ingredient listed.
Feed smaller amounts throughout the day to prevent overeating at one time.
Feed multiple cats from separate bowls or in separate spaces to prevent eating too fast (food competition).
If making diet changes, make these changes gradually.
Feed wet food or mix with dry food. Give small pieces of meat as treats.
Do not feed leftover foods that contain spices, sauces or flavorings.
Increase exercise! Provide plenty of toys. Spend time playing with your cat to increase exercise and bonding.

Prevention of owner embarrassment by feline flatus:
Buy a dog.
Teach your cat to lay beside the dog before release.
Then blame the dog.

Refer to other BCR blog articles:
2/8/14     Pet Food Ingredients 
2/13/14   IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome   
2/21/14   Fat Cats! (weight mgmt) 
2/27/14   Feline Allergies (includes food allergies)

3/1/14     Backyard Entertainment for your Cat! (increasing activity for your cat)

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