36 catster Special Holiday Issue
BY DR. ARNOLD PLOTNICK
1. Where it all
2. What’s in a stomach?
begins. The esopha-
gus propels food that
your cat swallows into
the stomach, where the
digestion process begins.
The stomach is comprised of
3. What’s a stomach to do?
several distinct sections. The fun-
dus is the small part that lies just
above the junction between the
esophagus and the stomach. The
inlet or opening from the esopha-
gus into the stomach is called the
cardia. The largest section is the
body of the stomach. This section
mainly serves as a storage tank for
The next part of the stomach
is the antrum. The antrum is very
muscular and serves to grind up
the food into smaller pieces. The
pylorus is a sphincter — a ring of
muscle — that regulates the flow
of stomach contents from the
stomach into the duodenum, the
first part of the small intestine. The
pylorus also serves as a one-way
valve, preventing backflow of
intestinal contents into the stom-
ach. The stomach is shaped like
a lopsided kidney bean, with the
longer outside margin — on the
left side of the body — called the
greater curvature. The shorter
outside margin, on the right side,
is the lesser curvature.
The principal job of the stomach
is to store, mix, and digest food and
to regulate the emptying of its con-
tents into the small intestine, where
digestion continues. The stomach
contains glands that produce acid
and enzymes that digest the incom-
ing food. The acid also helps to kill
bacteria that enter the stomach. The
stomach is also lined by glands that
secrete mucus, which helps protect
the stomach from being digested by
its own acid and enzymes.
4. Uh oh, here comes trouble!
The most common sign that something might be amiss with your
cat’s stomach is vomiting. Every cat
vomits now and then, and most of
the time there’s a harmless explanation for it, such as eating too fast, a
sudden change in diet, or hairballs.
5. Ack, hairball! When cats
groom themselves, the barbs on
their tongues remove the loose
and dead hair. These hairs are
swallowed. Most of the hair passes
through the digestive tract, but
some hair might accumulate in the
stomach, where it can form into
a hairball. Ultimately, cats will rid
themselves of hairballs by vomiting them up. Longhaired cats like
Persians and Maine Coons are predisposed to hairball problems.
Don’t instinctively blame all vomiting on harmless hairballs. Certainly
if you see a big hairball in the vomited material, and this occurs infrequently, then hairballs is the likely
diagnosis. But cats who vomit hairballs very frequently usually have an
underlying disorder, and a veterinarian should investigate this.
6. OMG! It’s IBD! Inflammatory
bowel disease (IBD) is a disorder
in which the immune system sends
inflammatory cells into various segments of the gastrointestinal tract.
The stomach is commonly affected.
Have no fear, these 8 tidbits about this important
Can You Stomach — The Stomach?!
part of the gastrointestinal tract are easy to digest.