Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats (IBD)

Weight loss, dehydration, vomiting or diarrhea that does not remit are symptoms that may indicate that our cat suffers from IBD, or what is the same, an inflammatory bowel disease. The key to its treatment is a correct diagnosis and treatment.

There are several types of IBD in felines, which are identified based on their severity and location. Some require medication while others simply an adapted diet. Let’s see a little more about this strange disease.

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What is feline inflammatory bowel disease?

This pathology, also known by its acronym in English IBD or IBD in Spanish, is frequent in felines. Its name refers to a disorder characterized by persistent or recurrent digestive symptoms and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract .

It most commonly affects middle-aged cats, from about 6-7 years old, or advanced, which does not mean that it cannot be diagnosed in younger ones. It is a chronic process in the course of which the animal can go through phases of deterioration and improvement.

It is not very clear how it occurs, but an abnormal interaction between the immune system and the intestinal flora , including internal parasites , bacteria and the diet itself is assumed . The Siamese cats seem to be more prone to suffer. There are no differences due to sex. There may also be a genetic component.

This disease will affect the absorption capacity at the digestive level, so that, in addition to the symptoms due to the damage that occurs, it interferes with the use of the nutrients that the cat ingests in food.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in kittens

The following stand out, which may appear intermittently:

  • Weight loss.- Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea, although not in all cases.
  • Anorexia, that is, the cat stops eating or ingests a smaller amount of food. On the other hand, others maintain a normal or even increased appetite.
  • Blood or mucus in the stool.
  • Abdominal pain, although we will not always detect it, since cats do not usually show it.
  • General weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Bad appearance of the coat.

This symptomatology is nonspecific and can appear in other diseases such as lymphoma, infectious or endocrine pathologies, parasites or food allergies. That is why it is important to diagnose it correctly , since it is often confused with other diseases that have similar symptoms.

Sometimes a cat vomiting from time to time, becoming thin, or having occasional diarrhea does not alarm the keeper to go to the vet. This means that many cats come to the clinic at an advanced stage of the disease.

How is inflammatory bowel disease diagnosed?

Sometimes the veterinarian can feel the inflamed intestinal loops in the abdomen, but this information is not useful for diagnosis, since other diseases can manifest with the same inflammation.

That is why the vet will do a blood test and take a stool sample to perform a stool study and look for intestinal parasites. Abdominal ultrasound is also common, which usually shows a thickened small intestine.

The biopsy is another technique used for diagnosis. It is done by endoscopy or, preferably, exploratory laparotomy , which are invasive tests for which the cat needs to be anesthetized. In this way, a tissue sample is obtained that will later be examined in the laboratory to find out the type of cells that make it up.

It is important to bear in mind that the tests provided are not always intended to diagnose inflammatory disease, but are used to rule out other pathologies with similar symptoms.

Some of the symptoms of feline IBD are:

  • Cat too thindespite eating well
  • Constant diarrhea and / or vomiting
  • Anorexy
  • Anxiety to eat, excessive hunger

Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease in cats

This disease has a treatment but it is necessary to adjust it to the evolution of the cat. A novel diet is recommended , that is, with foods that the cat has never consumed before. It is important, for this, to prepare a good medical history that includes absolutely all the foods consumed.

You can also offer food with hydrolyzed proteins , which is achieved by treating these proteins to break them down into small fragments in order to avoid allergic reactions.

Also, the vet will prescribe antibiotics for a minimum of two weeks. If the cat does not improve or has serious symptoms, anti-inflammatories are also added for a long time. Even so, there will be cats that do not respond and that must be reevaluated, as we could be facing lymphoma. Immunosuppressants can also be used.

Even when remission of the clinical picture is observed, the medication that has worked may have to be maintained, even if it is in the minimum dose. The usefulness of the administration of probiotics is under study . Prebiotics, on the other hand, are part of the usual composition of diets for digestive problems. In some cases, vitamin B12 and K are added.

It is normal that different medications have to be tried or even changed throughout the cat’s life. For other patients, on the other hand, the consumption of a hypoallergenic diet manages to control the symptoms. This diet may also require modifications over time. As we can see, it is a complex process.

What is the prognosis for inflammatory bowel disease?

In conclusion we can say that inflammatory bowel disease is treated but not cured . We will aspire, therefore, to control the symptoms to keep the cat with a good quality of life. Many cats respond well to dietary and anti-inflammatory treatments, although not all symptoms are eradicated.

The most severe cases have a worse prognosis. It is important that as caregivers we keep this in mind and commit to follow the treatment prescribed by the veterinarian. This can be complicated in cats that do not tolerate medication well.


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