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Are Abdominal Fat Pads on Cats Normal? Our Vet Answers

Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

When my little girl Hae Yu (a cat) was spayed, she developed a seroma. The swelling went down pretty well and I thought it was gone. On her check up a a month or so after the spaying, the vet said she looked fine.

It is now about three months later and she’s nearly a year old. I am noticing that she has a swinging belly. I’m not sure if it is just belly fat or what. It does kind of feel like fluid.

Her sister, Sally, healed just fine and has a flat belly. Do you think it’s just fat? She sure doesn’t seem to be in any distress. Can they have loose bellies at such a young age? Thanks for your thoughts.

New Jersey

Seromas are common, generally mild complications that can follow any type of surgery. They occur when fluid accumulates underneath the skin in the area of the incision. Most seromas resolve within two or three weeks, and they usually don’t require any major treatment.

If your vet re-evaluated Hae Yu and determined that the seroma had healed, then I doubt that it is playing any role in the current situation.

What is most likely is that Hae Yu is developing fat deposits on her abdomen. These are officially called abdominal fat pads, but some folks prefer terms such as “Buddha belly”, “beer belly” (which isn’t really appropriate since most cats shun beer) or “dangling participle”.

These fat deposits occur primarily in spayed and neutered cats. They occur on the rear portion of the abdomen. Cats do not have to be overweight for them to develop. They do not form in all cats, but in some cats they are pronounced. One patient of mine, a Sphynx cat, was completely hairless and developed an exceptionally prominent pair of fat pads on his abdomen after he was neutered. The pads were unsightly, but they were harmless.

And that is the key thing to remember. Abdominal fat pads are, in general, harmless. You might want to have your vet take a look at Hae Yu to confirm that nothing else is going on. But my hunch is that there isn’t much to worry about.

About the Author

Dr. Eric Barchas
Dr. Eric Barchas

Dr. Eric Barchas is a professional traveler who spends his spare time working as a full-time veterinarian; contributing to Dogster and Catster; walking, cooking, camping, and exploring the outdoors; skiing (when conditions permit); and reading Booker-shortlisted novels. In between trips Dr. Barchas lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Denise, and his canine pal, Buster. His main veterinary interests are emergency and critical care, wellness, pain management and promotion of the human-animal bond. Dr. Barchas has to Dogster and Catster since May 2005. 

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