My cat just finished eating and hopped up on the sofa for a post-nomming nap. Before she settles down I hear a small sound come from her mouth and then get the whiff of the cat food she just ate. Phew! Someone needs a breath mint.
If this has happened to you, then you know all about cat burps. But is it really a burp? Can cats burp? Myself and countless others say yes, while some vets say no.
How It Happens
Cats can swallow air into the stomach during play, sleeping, purring, eating or drinking water. Gas is released from the stomach and sometimes travels up instead of down. This release travels up the esophagus and out in the form of a burp. Some are barely noticeable while others may have you running in the opposite direction!
Burps can be a sign of another issue. A hairball may be clogging up the works, it could be a muted cough, a sign of pneumonia, a food allergy issue or a digestive issue. Some vets report seeing these types of symptoms as a secondary sign of heart problems and check for heart murmurs to rule it out.
There are also vets that say burping is simply impossible for cats. Read along as we take a look at both sides of the issue below, then make your own assessment.
No They Can’t
A cat owner heads in to the vet stating that his cat is burping and hiccuping often. He was told by his vet that it is more likely a heart or digestion issue since cats can’t burp.
A second vet agrees and explains the noises made that sound like burps are more related to regurgitation or trying to extract a hairball. Although secondary heart issues may be the cause, a food allergy is the suspected culprit and the owner is advised to change the cat’s food.
Yes They Can
My cat is healthy and I know she just ate, so the sound and smell is obviously a burp, right? Cat owners all over the web agree and discuss their funny and stinky stories about all sorts of emitted sounds and smells their furry friends make.
Ron Hines, DVM, PhD, agrees that not only do cats burp, it may be an essential part of bottle feeding a kitten:
After each feeding hold the kitten upright with its tummy against your shoulder and pat it gently until it burps, releasing trapped air. Nursing bottles that do not release enough milk lead to more air being trapped as the kitten nurses.
Dr. Jeff Thoren, state service representative for Hill’s Pet Products, and Dr. Alfred Plechner also agree cats burp when they discussed a digestive issue:
Does your dog or cat burp a lot? Expel gas? Have a rumbling tummy. Loose stool? These are signs of an irritated intestine. The food is entering the gut and the organs of digestion are finding it too coarse, too unnatural, too incompatible. High-protein kibble is often the reason for this.
Blair the cat demonstrates what her owner thinks is a burp:
And this owner is trying to identify the odd sound her cat just made:
While Blackjack the kitten demonstrates his capabilities:
What Do You Think?
Can cats burp? Does your cat burp? Have you witnessed what you thought was a burp?
Based on my experience I’d definitely say yes. Some vets agree and some disagree, so we want to hear from you. Tell us your story or opinion in the comments below.