ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: My 5-month-old adopted kitten is Pimienta “Pimi” and she is such a good girl. I waited for a kitten that chose me and it is the best thing I have done because she is so cute and she sees me as her mummy (I think). At the beginning, Pimienta drank water from the bowl but now she just wants to drink from the tap. I’m worried she won’t drink enough. The other problem is that she farts. This is obviously very disgusting. Her veterinarian suggested a diet change.
Dr. Nichol: Pimi sounds like a sweet kitty with an odiferous social handicap. Flatulence (farting) is normal in moderation. Breaking wind “to beat the band” is an unhealthy symptom. While Pimi’s diet may be at fault I am more suspicious of a parasite or an imbalance of intestinal bacteria. I suggest submitting a fresh stool sample to your veterinarian to be tested for worms and single-cell parasites like coccidia and giardia. These freeloaders would be a good diagnosis because they can be safely and completely eliminated with minimal stress.
There may be other reasons for Pimi’s excessive exhaust emissions. A smoldering infection can upset the natural balance among the multitude of bacteria that populate her gut. In the normal intestine, none of these organisms reproduce excessively; their numbers remain relatively stable by “competitive inhibition.” But overgrowth of one type would drastically diminish another, which could lead to production of prodigious quantities of methane gas. Your veterinarian can take a tiny fecal sample directly from Pimi’s anus for a microscopic exam to evaluate her bacterial populations.
Intestinal bacterial overgrowth is common. A combination of medications, amoxicillin plus metronidazole, is often effective at correcting an overgrowth. A probiotic like Probiocin can help reestablish good organisms and maintain long-term stability. There is nothing like well-behaved gut bacteria to keep methane generation in moderation.
Finally, Pimi is not alone in her enjoyment of drinking for sport from a running faucet. I share your concern that she may not get enough water in your absence. A cat drinking fountain could keep her entertained and hydrated while protecting your water bill.
Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.