Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 26.2 Other Scientific

The ascitic cat

Published 02/01/2016

Written by Erin Anderson

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

Ascites is a term used to describe the accumulation of free fluid within the peritoneal cavity. Based on cell counts, total protein, specific gravity, and cellular content, the fluid may be classified as a transudate (pure or modified) or an exudate.

The ascitic cat

Key Points

Therapeutic abdominocentesis may be a beneficial option to relieve discomfort in many (but not all) cases of ascites. Specific treatment for the primary cause is recommended.


Ascitic fluid should be obtained and analyzed for the sake of classification, but this rarely provides a definitive diagnosis without additional, full diagnostic evaluation.


Congestive heart failure, neoplasia, feline infectious peritonitis, and hepatic disease are among the most common causes of ascites in cats.


Ascites can be classified as one of several types of fluid, most commonly pure or modified transudates or exudates. This classification helps narrow a very broad list of differentials for primary etiology.


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