What are Gastritis?
Gastritis is a scientific term for inflammation of the stomach, and is rarely an end diagnosis in its own right. Typical signs include vomiting, often associated with altered appetite and lethargy. Gastritis in cats can come on suddenly (acute) which may well be self-limiting, or it can be a long-standing condition (chronic), for which diagnosis and treatment are key to resolving the issue. Gastritis is often a result of either eating spoiled food or disease elsewhere in the body.
Symptoms of Gastritis in Cats
Vomiting is the most common sign of gastritis. But since the condition is often the result of an underlying health issue, there may be other symptoms arising from the primary problem. These include:
- Vomiting, which may be intermittent and may consist of food, hair, or bile
- Recent history of scavenging
- Weight loss, which is more likely with chronic gastritis
- Poor appetite
- Increased thirst
- Abdominal pain
- Behavioral change such as becoming hyperactive
Causes of Gastritis in Cats
Gastritis can arise for a simple reason, such as eating too much or scavenging spoiled food, or from more complex causes such as an underlying health problem. The causes are numerous and some of the most common include:
- Overeating, eating too rapidly or eating spoiled food
- Worms, such as ascarids (roundworms)
- Infections, such as helicobacter
- Food allergy
- Foreign bodies, such as hair or non-digestible objects
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Overactive thyroid glands
- Damage to the stomach lining by drugs
Diagnosis of Gastritis in Cats
In cases of acute gastritis in a cat that is otherwise well, the vet may opt to treat the symptom (vomiting) rather than reach a definitive diagnosis. However, if the problem persists beyond 24 hours then diagnostics may be required.
These include screening blood tests to check organ function and look for indications of systemic illness which could cause vomiting. The results of these tests may point the clinician in a particular direction, such as running diagnostic blood tests for pancreatitis, or liver or kidney disease.
Fecal analysis is helpful if an ascarid burden in the stomach is suspected.
If these tests come back normal, the vet may use imaging such as ultrasound or radiographs to check for foreign bodies in the gut or tumors. If these findings are inconclusive then inspecting the gut lining with an endoscope is helpful and facilitates endoscopic biopsy.
In the most complex cases, full thickness biopsies of the stomach lining may be necessary in order to reach a diagnosis. This allows a histologist to look at a tissue sample under the microscope and identify the nature of the pathology.
Treatment of Gastritis in Cats
For mild acute gastritis, the vet may prescribe antacid medications or anti-inflammatories. Withholding food for 24 hours gives the stomach a chance to rest and the inflammation to subside. In addition, if hairballs are suspected as an inciting cause, regular brushing of the cat helps to prevent recurrence.
In cases of food allergy, changing diet to a hypoallergenic alternative that avoids the triggering allergens can bring about a full resolution of symptoms. Should a foreign object be identified, then surgery to remove the offending item should lead to a resolution of signs.
Where a causative organism is identified such as ascarid worms or helicobacter, then specific deworming or antibiosis helps to resolve the problem. In many cases, managing the underlying condition, such as kidney or liver disease, helps the gastritis to be brought under control.
The vet can also prescribe medications such as sucralfate to protect the stomach lining, or omeprazole to reduce acid production. This is with the aim of providing more conducive conditions to allow the stomach wall to heal. Once the symptoms resolve, the medication may be slowly withdrawn with the owner carefully monitoring for signs of recurrence.
Recovery of Gastritis in Cats
For the majority of cases, the outlook is excellent, depending on the cause. However, reaching a diagnosis is sometimes a protracted process that requires patience on the part of the owner.
Triggers such as food allergy may need lifelong management in the form of a special diet, whilst underlying causes such as kidney disease will also need long-term treatment. However, if the trigger is a hairball then simple actions such as brushing the cat daily can bring about a complete and permanent resolution to the problem.
Once a cat has had gastritis, it may be prone to the condition in the future. Thus the owner is well advised to monitor their cat and seek appropriate treatment early, in order to stop the problem becoming well established and minimize the recovery time.
Gastritis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Cat started vomitting a week ago when we were out of town, mostly food and hairballs. Took him to the vet when it became bile. Vet did a nausea shot, blood test, and xray. All of these came back normal. Vomitting bile and not eating started happening again 2 days later so I took him back in they gave him a anti nausea shot and a antibiotic for infection possibility. Two days later we are back to vomitting food and water. The vet mentioned scoping him if this did not work. I am curious what is all causing this and are we taking the right steps?
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Kuro is less than a year old, and an indoor-outdoor cat. She has no previous health problems and was fixed and vaccinated as a kitten. She is a short hair, but our house is generally hairy because the elder cat, Izzy, has very long hair. During Christmas my boyfriend and I both left and couldn't take her or Izzy, so we left out 3 days-worth of food and took out the trash. When we got home there was both food and water left, and Kuro appeared to have suddenly gotten fat. We assumed she just overate. We also noticed the bathroom trash can was knocked over, but there was just tissues and q-tips, so no chance of spoiled food. Then two days ago she vomited food mush and white mucus and was tired after, and tonight vomited again, this time with food mush, white mucus, and a small amount of clear liquid with white foam. Her energy afterward is fine.
I have been home most of the time the past two weeks, and have not observed any behavioral, eating, or drinking changes, and when I cleaned the litter today everything looked healthy. Her abdomen doesn't seem sensitive when we apply pressure. But I am concerned about the sudden apparent weight gain and vomiting. Could they be related?
Thanks for your input.
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Last Thursday when I woke up I noticed that my cat had done a vomiting. It was thick as if he has tgrown out his cat food. Then after an hour he vomited again, this time it was clear liquid with a bit of white foam. He vomited clear liquid twice again within an hour. I rushed him to the vet and he said it is gastritis. My cat was lethargic and having temperature. The vet checked the temperature and it was 103.5. He was given shots of amoxicillin and zantac and gravinate. He was give a IV as well. Then I brought him back home and he slept for whole day. In the evening he ate bit of his jellies. In the evening I took him again for checkup and the vet gave another shot of zantac and amoxicillin and asked me to not to give him food till next morning. The next morning my cat was asking for food he was hungry so I gave him some more cat jelly. He had it and then slept.. later that night he got his 3rd and last antibiotic shot of zantac and amoxicillin. The vet told me no more medicine or antibiotics is required. He's fine now and eating too. Now Saturday and Sunday my cat was ok. Even today also he is eating fine and looks okay. But only one thing is unusual and that is that he is drinking more water than usual. He is urinating normal but drinking more water than usual.. I'm worried.. is that due to antibiotics or what? Also let me tell you the weather is a bit on colder side her.
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Three months ago, my cat was vomiting on & off for a couple of weeks but seemed healthy, active & maintained a good appetite. When his vomit turned green I took him to the vet who ultrasounded his abdomen to find an ulcer & inflammation in the stomach & intestines, and an enlarged liver he said was probably a hepatic migration of worms since we have missed the last deworming dose. My other two cats are fine though. He was treated with three rounds of ranitidine, zofran, an antiinflammatory & an antibiotic last of which was ceftriaxone. Then he was dewormed & got started on ornipural shots for his liver. He was still vomiting a week later so the vet ordered an X-ray to rule out any torsion in the stomach or intestines but found the liver more enlarged. There's also onflammation in the gallbladder & bile ducts due to gallstones & pressure the liver is putting. He had another deworming dose & is still vomiting.
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