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Swollen belly in my nursing momcat

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I'm the relatively new owner of a mom and her two kittens, whom I adopted early/mid April. I posted a couple of questions back then and you guys were so helpful ... now I'm hoping to get some more advice.

Mina is about a year old, maybe a little older, and the kittens (Sophie and Therblig -- don't laugh!) are about thirteen weeks now. Anyway, what happened was, since the kittens were sick with calicivirus, I adopted Mina first and had her by herself for a week, at which time she was spayed. The kittens joined her in their new home couple of days later.

The kittens are on solid food but are STILL nursing from Mina, who makes some halfhearted efforts at kicking them away, but often just says "whatever" and lets them nurse.

Okay, that's the backstory. Now my question. Mina's always had kind of a swollen belly, which I figured was the result of her pregnancy/nursing. But ever since Mina's operation and the kittens arrived/started nursing from her again, Mina's gotten to look like a pear! If I didn't know better I'd think she was pregnant. The belly is sort of rubbery and hard, not soft like a regular cat belly.

She's acting perfectly fine -- running and playing with her kids. I hate to drag her to the vet again, but I don't want her to explode or rupture or anything. Could this be parasites? I know, you guys can't really diagnose or anything ... I just want to know if nursing mothers normally look swollen, or if this is something I should be even more worried about than I already am.

You can see Mina and an earlier version of her belly in these pictures, primarily the third and fourth shots down on the page. (She's bigger now, though.) Mina's the large orange tiger; the two kittens are Sophie (brown tiger) and Therblig (dillute orange tiger).

I'd appreciate any help you can give me -- I'm a total nervous nellie ever since my last cat died two years ago!
post #2 of 7
Is she showing any signs of discomfort? Eating and drinking normally? I dunno, it sounds a little odd. Bumping this up to the top so people more knowledgeable then me can see it right away.
post #3 of 7
I know most females get fatter after they are spayed. I have a blue tabby dsh who weighs 10 lbs. She was spayed a year and a half ago. She is still the queen bee here, there is just more of her to love!
post #4 of 7
Hi Kira,

Hissy has asked me to come from another board to help...

I'd suggest a vet visit promptly, you want to play it safe and have peace of mind. It's hard to discern what you mean by pear-shaped, but if you are in the least referring to her mammaries, you want to absolutely rule out mastitis, this is a condition that can occur due to extended nursing, severe bacterial infection, etc. In this condition, you would see the mammaries swollen, red, puffy, lumpy, and if severe, oozing pus or blood. Inflammation could also be a concern under the mammary glands and tissues. Fever and anorexia are usually present in mastitis.

I doubt that parasites are the problem, but you can sure take in a stool sample with you to get a fecal done. I would get her in promptly for a full exam, and x-ray if your vet feels it's warranted. Always best to play it safe.

Please start seperating the kittens from her, the longer she allows them to nurse, the more potential for problems for her. They are nearly 3 months old now and shouldn't even have the desire to nurse from her. She obviously cannot keep them away, so you'll have to step in and seperate them for periods of time until they learn she is off limits. When you do this, she too will learn more control and it will become natural for her to ward them off, she just needs your intervention at this point.

Please don't wait on that exam, get her seen immediately.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks Xastion and DragonLady.

Mina was spayed only about a month ago, so I can't imagine she could have put on this much weight -- especially since she's also nursing her kids (though admittedly not all that often). My sister reminded me today that even when Mina arrived, she kinda had a hardish pot belly.

She was eating fine until I recently changed the cats' food from Pet Guard to Solid Gold Katz 'n Flocken. They were having SUCH stinky bowel movements with PG that I thought maybe a different food would be better. I'd heard so many great things about Solid Gold (and I'd prefer a dry diet for them), but they weren't thrilled (refusing to eat at all, the stubborn little guys!) and I changed again to Innova.

They all eat some of it, but walk away after only eating a little. Now I'm thinking I should just go back to Pet Guard. To heck with the stinky poop; if it's the only thing they like, I'll just deal with the stink.

Sorry, I digressed there. Anyway, I'm wondering if I changed the food too quickly and maybe Mina's having a bad reaction to it? Could she be this bloated because of gas? (But I'm not noticing any other, uh, signs of gas, if ya know what I mean.) I'm going to take Mina to the vet early this week just to make sure. I was just hoping some of you guys could tell me that it's normal to have some bloating while nursing!

Edited because I just saw the latest post

Thank you so much for your response, cat-tech, and thanks to Hissy for calling you in. No, it's not her mammaries, it's her abdomen that seems bloated to me. But I'll take her in on Monday (when her vet's open) just to be sure. Or do you think I should go to the hospital ASAP? Now I'm scared.
post #6 of 7
Kira, thanks for elaborating on that, I'm glad to hear it's not her mammaries, but do have your vet check that anyway. No, I don't think this is an emergency, but do keep your appt. on Monday and take a stool sample with you then.

It could be from the recent change in food, but your post indicates she has been like this before, so the diet may not be totally the culprit. It's really hard to guess without seeing her, feeling her abdomen. If gas in the intestines were a problem, you'd probably find her stools either hard or soft, loose, but again, not truly knowing her eating habits and health history, it's hard to say.

I'm assuming she has been prior tested for FELV/FIV? If not, I would recommend doing that on Monday, it only takes 10 minutes and the result can be done by the time the exam is finished. Not to scare you, it's just a good counter measure and should be done for all new adoptees.

Keep an eye on her, and also her mammaries, and try to get those kittens seperated from her. Should she develop any unsual signs or symptoms over the weekend, don't hesitate to contact your vet.

post #7 of 7
Thanks Traci you are the best! I appreciate you taking the time out to do this.

Kira, good luck with this mom and in keeping her kittens away from her from now on. She must be pretty tired of them now- a normal momcat would be hissing and scratching and even biting to keep them at bay.
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