Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Cats
IBD In Cats: Cats with recurring digestive problems may have a serious disease called inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD (not to be confused with the human illness irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
Inflammatory bowel disease in cats is thought to be an overreaction to the normal bacteria in the intestine, which play an important part in normal digestion.
In a cat with IBD, her immune system does not tolerate those bacteria and attacks them, causing inflammation. IBD is the most common cause of gastrointestinal distress in cats and can lead to severe illness or cancer if not treated, so you need to be on alert.
SYMPTOMS OF IBD In Cats
A cat with this disease will have symptoms that come and go periodically—this on-and-off quality is typical of IBD—primarily chronic vomiting and diarrhea, but also abdominal pain, intestinal gurgling, frequent passing of gas, loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty defecating and blood or mucus in the stool.
THE CAUSE OF IBD In Cats
- Nobody is sure what makes a cat’s immune system attack the friendly bacteria, but it may be hereditary.
- To reduce the risk of the disease in any cat, experts suggest keeping your cat away from any potentially unclean water that might contain bacteria, especially water outdoors that has been standing in puddles.
- Having worms in the stomach, an overgrowth of certain bacteria and allergies to particular food proteins may also trigger the inflammatory response.
DIAGNOSING IBD In Cats
Because the symptoms of IBD in cats are variable and can fluctuate, a vet has to diagnose it one step at a time. After testing blood and fecal samples and deworming, a doctor may put your cat on an experimental diet to see if she is allergic to or intolerant of any particular foods.
If all of those tests are inconclusive, then to make a definitive diagnosis of IBD a cat has to be given an endoscopy—under anesthesia, a tube is passed into the digestive tract to take samples.
TREATMENT FOR IBD In Cats
This ailment is not curable, but 90 percent of cats respond well to a diet and drug therapy, usually some form of cortisone. The goal is to get the cat off the medication as soon as possible and maintain her healthy digestive system with diet alone.
However, even a cat who is doing well may relapse into periods of more vomiting and diarrhea and will have to go back on additional medical therapy.
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