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What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Cats with this disease exhibit a chronic infiltration of inflamed cells in the intestine. This infiltration invades the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, causing them to thicken and disrupting the intestine's normal functioning. When inflammation continues over a long period of time, normal tissue is sometimes placed by a very fibrous scar tissue. 

In addition, chronic indigestion has long-term effects on your cat's immune system, the bulk of which is located in the GI tract. If inflammatory bowel disease continues, your cat's ability to absorb necessary nutrients from his food will be compromised. IBD can also lead to lymphoma of the intestinal tract. 

There are many suspected causes of inflammatory bowel disease, including genetic factors, food allergies, and sensitivity to bacteria. While there is presently no specific cure for IBD, there are several treatment protocols that can be used very effectively in giving your cat a long and happy life.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common gastrointestinal condition in cats and humans alike for which no single cause has been found. It affects many cats, however Siamese cats and cats of middle age and old age are particularly susceptible to this condition. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Average Cost

From 467 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,400

Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

While there are common symptoms that your cat might exhibit when they have developed inflammatory bowel disease, signs might not be apparent at first. Cats often hide their symptoms and then exhibit sudden weight loss because of a significant buildup of scar tissue in the intestinal tract. Another important thing to note is that symptoms of IBD are typically cyclical in cats. They might exhibit vomiting and diarrhea for a few days, then be symptom-free for a few weeks, and then have a recurrence. Some of the more common symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • More frequent defecation
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever
  • Cat stops using litter box
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite fluctuation from ravenous to no appetite
  • Ravenous eating without weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Thickened intestines
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Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

A single cause of inflammatory bowel disease is “idiopathic” or unknown. However, there is a variety of possible causes including: 

  • Extreme sensitivity to bacteria
  • Food allergies 
  • Genetic factors
  • Abnormalities in the immune system
  • A response to elevated stress 
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Chronic infection 
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Diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

Making a diagnosis of IBD requires an extensive examination and combination of tests because the symptoms of IBD are common to many feline conditions. Your vet will likely recommend a full blood panel, a urinalysis, and a fecal examination. In addition, an ultrasound or an x-ray can help point out whether the intestinal walls have significantly thickened. 

The most definitive diagnostic tool for IBD is biopsy. Either an endoscopic biopsy (a non-invasive camera sent into the cat's intestinal tract) or a full thickness biopsy, under anesthesia, can be performed. Tissue samples are collected which show the types of inflammatory cells present in the intestinal wall.

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Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

There are several treatment options for IBD depending on the symptoms exhibited by your cat. Often several milder treatment protocols are chosen before moving to a more aggressive treatment. The most common protocols involve a combination of dietary change plus use of medication. 

Since food allergies are a common cause of IBD, your cat might be placed on a hypoallergenic diet such as a novel protein diet or a grain-free diet. This first type of diet will include a protein source that your cat has not eaten before such as venison or duck. Many cats with IBD respond well to a grain-free diet. 

Many vets also prescribe a high-quality pet probiotic to help the cat heal the gut and build up a healthy colony of gut bacteria (the intestine's first line of defense against foreign invaders, parasites, and toxins). Other therapies include B vitamin supplements and fatty acid supplements, both shown to reduce inflammation of the bowel. 

Various immunosuppressants are often prescribed because they reduce the number of inflammatory cells. For most cats, especially extreme cases, steroids are highly effective in suppressing the immune system and reducing the symptoms. Medication may be administered orally, or if your cat has severe vomiting, by injection. Antibiotics are often prescribed to fight bacteria which are potential causes of the IBD. 

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Recovery of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats

Inflammatory bowel disease can be effectively treated and controlled so that your cat can continue a healthy life. Proper management of medication and diet, close monitoring of symptoms, and regular check ups at the vet are essential for a good outcome. Supplements to counteract nutritional deficiencies and rehydrating fluid therapy can greatly help resolve symptoms. The symptoms will wax and wane, but in partnership with your veterinarian, relapses can be assessed and adjustments in the treatment protocol. 

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Average Cost

From 467 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,400

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Bowie

dog-breed-icon

Domestic Med-Hair

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Vomiting

We took our 2 year old indoor cat to the vet about a week ago, after he was vomiting at least once every other day, if not every day. After blood work, an ultrasound, and an x-ray, we found that his intestinal lining was slightly thickened and he had a slight elevation in white blood cells. Nothing else. Because he didn't know what else to do (in my opinion), the vet gave us Veraflox which we've given him once a day, this being the third day. This all started a little less than a month ago, and he's vomited twice tonight. Feeling hopelessly worried, any advice?

Aug. 18, 2018

Bowie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It is possible that Bowie may have some gastroenteritis causing the symptoms, three days is not long into a course of antibiotics however without examining Bowie myself I cannot say whether I would give Veraflox (pradofloxacin) or not. There are many causes for vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss and it is important to check faeces for any parasites etc… See how treatment goes over the weekend and if there is no improvement visit your Veterinarian for a follow up examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.bayerdvm.com/products/veraflox-pradofloxacin-oral-suspension-for-cats/ https://bayer.cvpservice.com/product/basic/view/1040076

Aug. 18, 2018

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button

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Tortie

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Nausea, Weight Loss, Diarrea

I have a cat who had diarrea for several years. Recently she started losing weight and not eating well. She throws up occasionally after pooping and now she is hiding. The vet gave her maropitant for the nausea, mirtazapine, and i/d cat food. She does not seem to be getting any better. I was wondering about putting her on budesonide for the inflammation, b-12 shots and fatty acid supplement. Also, what long term nausea medication does not have too many side affects.

Aug. 10, 2018

button's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Nausea medication, supplements etc… are going to manage symptoms and not actually treat any underlying cause; it is important to work with your Veterinarian to identify and manage or treat the underlying cause otherwise you are not going to make any specific progress overall. Any decision on treatment would need to be discussed with your Veterinarian as Button is under their duty of care and I haven’t performed an examination myself; budesonide has been used to treat inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal conditions in cats but again it is down to whether your Veterinarian feels that Button would benefit (we don’t prescribe medications left and right). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

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Bucky

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mixed

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Depression
Weight Loss
Lethargy
Increased Hunger

I have a 14 year old mixed breed cat. For about 1.5 years he has been dealing with a chronic issue, and the vet cannot seem to pinpoint the problem. It started with weight loss. His fist vet visit, they did scan of his abdominal region which showed thickened intestional lining. He was started on predenisolone 2mg every day for about a month or two and then weened off. He responsed well to it intially, but once off of the medicine started to decline again. Vet put him on it every other day for a while, and no change, but not gaining weight either. Now, he is on it everyday and still no change, but still gradually and slowly losing weight. About 1.5. years ago, he was about 11 or 12 pounds; now he is 8.8. His CBC shows high WBC, low neutrophil count and low RBC count. Recent visit also showed some liver enzymes coming through in the CBC, but vet isn't sure if that's from age or from the issue at hand. I have tried changing his diet, but still no change. I am taking him back to the vet next week to ask him about possible IBD? Maybe changing his medicine or dosage? I feel like the poor guy is basically starving to death. He just follows me around meowing. He constantly eats. I'm not sure if he is having diarrhea, because I have other cats in the household. I have seen solids in the litter, but not sure if it's from him or not. And I can't tell the difference between urine and diarrhea in the litter. Any ideas?

June 1, 2018

Bucky's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Inflammatory bowel disease is a possibility but the treatment would typically consist of dietary changes (typically a high protein and high fibre diet) and corticosteroid therapy (which is already being given). You should discuss with your Veterinarian about other options including stress, dietary intolerance and others. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 2, 2018

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Psycho

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Cat

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My cat has suspected IBD. Our Vet put him on Prdnisolone 5 mg twice acdy for 6 weeks. His main symptom was bile pukes in the am several times a month and decreased appetite. He s been on the meds for 5 weeks and is doing well. No vomiting at all since beginning the Pred and his appetite is great. Next week I am to ween him to 5 mg once a day for several weeks and the 1 x every bother day forba total of 3 months. Then we re to stop and see how it goes I ve changed his diet and added probiotics, Digestive enzymes and B12 shots . My question is do some cats recover not needing the meds forever or is this something that will need to be treated for the rest of his life?

May 22, 2018

Psycho's Owner

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This is really a patient by patient thing, some cats respond perfectly to corticosteroid therapy and the gentle tapering of dosage; whilst other cats will go back to square one if you reduce the dosage just a little bit. I don’t really have any reliable indicator to determine how Psycho will do apart from wait and see while tapering the dose. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 22, 2018

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Muggsy

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Cat

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Abdominal Pain No Appetite

My 12 year old cat was said to have chronic severe IBD that started 3 years ago (misdiagnosed for 3 years), or lymphoma of the intestines. He gets a flare up about twice a year, and his current is the worse one yet. He has really stopped eating except for a few bites of food for 3 days, and had continuous vomiting- bile, foamy pink. This vet visit he was given a steroid injection, crenia injection, and some pain medication as he howls when his abdomen is touched. That was over 24 hours ago, and the vet said the injection of steroids should make him hungry. He is not, and still eating a very small amount of food- 4 bites or so all day. I have tried all types of food- you name it I have tried it, and still nothing. The vomiting has stopped, however he still looks like he is having reflux issues every time he does something (like jumps on the couch, something comes up and he has to lick his mouth). I am wondering is the steroid working because he is still not eating and in pain? Or does he not have IBD and it’s lymphoma? I do not want to put my cat through the endoscopy so we are trying to treat with the best educated information we had. If the steroid should have worked for IBD, and it’s not then is it safe to say that his condition had progressed to a more serious condition?

April 24, 2018

Muggsy's Owner

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I really cannot say what the cause is, if the cause is inflammatory bowel disease it may just not be responding to treatment. You should visit your Veterinarian tomorrow if there is no improvement in pain or appetite and keep Muggsy as hydrated as possible. An x-ray and blood test may be valuable here as a non-invasive (as much as endoscopy or surgery) which may help point in one direction or another. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 24, 2018

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Puff

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Unknown

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Vomiting
Ravenous Appetite

Puff, my 9 year old cat, has had weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and an increasingly ravenous appetite within the past few months. She used to be fat and weighed 14 pounds at her heaviest. Now, she weighs 7 pounds and is very thin. She was having increasing vomiting and diarrhea before she started to lose weight, her coat looked unhealthy as well (though this may be in part due to her allergy to fleas). We took her to the vet twice and both times they suggested she had hyperthyroidism. She got blood tests both times and they came back negative. She lost a lot more weight and became hungrier and hungrier despite how much she ate. She now constantly begs for food and wolfs her food down (we have to separate her from her brother, otherwise she steals his food). Only now, with her most recent visit to the vet, did they suggest IBD. They said she was young to have it (though both her and her brother, Jack-Jack, have had illnesses at early ages, so it’s not surprising). She’s getting an ultrasound tomorrow, but the vet is pretty certain she has IBD. If she’s diagnosed with IBD, she will have to be on antibiotics and steroids for the rest of her life. I hope the poor thing gains all her weight back so she can be our fat kitty again! And I hope she won’t have vomiting and diarrhea as much as she does now.

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Rhoda

dog-breed-icon

house cat

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My 14 old started intermittently vomiting- she has always had a sensitive stomach. Went to vet last Friday - blood work showed mild anemia and dehydration- abdominal X-ray was negative. I asked that she be treated for IBD after doing my own homework. She has lost weight but doesn’t ( other then vomiting) act sick. My question is how long after the injection of antibiotic and 2 does of oral steroid how long til she stops vomiting- she did keep her breakfast down but just drank water and it came up?

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Mizu

dog-breed-icon

Abyssinian

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea, Vomiting

My cat Mizu has been suffering from diarrhea and occasional vomiting in the morning. After several weeks we took him to the vet. Even thought he was acting normally, we knew something wasn’t right. They did an ultrasound and they said his intestinal lining was thick they cannot tell if it is IBD or lymphoma. They put him on twice a day 5 mg tablets of prednisone. This has stopped the vomiting and diarrhea almost completely. Just today he is now on the 5 mg tablet of prednisone only in the morning we will see if this continues to help his condition. He has also had a diet change and is now taking Royal Cainin rabbit formula and is not allowed to eat chicken any longer which he was crazy for. Although just tonight he had a little bit of a soft stool and that makes me worry. I felt bad keeping him on the prednisone because it made him act so strange. I worry it’s something more serious like lymphoma, but we are keeping our spirits up.

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Tiger

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Constipation
Loss Of Appetite

My 5 year old Cat was diagnosed with IBD a year or so ago, just recently she has episodes of being sick a few times in one month, the last time it happened she was sick five times and she was slightly off her food. This month it's been 4 times so far, I was wondering if this is all part of the problem, should I expect this to happen every now and then (as the last time it happened was November) and what can I do about it to make her more comfortable?

dog-name-icon

Cameron

dog-breed-icon

DS Tabby

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Fever
Loss Of Appetite

Cameron is 15.5 years old, with a previous bout of GI issues about 4 years ago. The bout included major vomiting and diarrhea which was happening so much in a few days that it started to become a little bloody. Bloodwork showed majorly elevated liver enzymes and ultrasound was done. Ultrasound showed inflamation of liver, pancreas, and the common bile duct. Treated with antibiotics, Ursodil, and Denamarin for awhile and everything went to normal. Over the past 4 years he has had minor bouts with diarrhea and weight loss and eventually he was placed on the z/d diet. I would also feed him purina pro plan cans to make sure he would eat because he is finicky sometimes with eating and sometimes does not want what I give him (i would switch it up to get him to eat.) Well the beginning of this week he was acting strange and not really eating that well and just acting lethargic, then I took his temperature and it was a fever between 104-105.5. Brought him to the vet (new vet) Tuesday and they started IV fluids and antibiotics. Did ultrasound, vet sent to specialist friend to ask opinion on images to see if he thought it might be cancer. Although not 100% sure if cancer or not, specialist said he strongly thought it might be IBD. Now onto day three of bringing him back to get IV throughout the day, and his fever still seems to be spiking at home and the diarrhea is still present. He has always had "soft serve" or "mush" poop, so I worry that it would not get that much better. How long should I expect the antibiotics and whatnot to be able to work, if it is not cancer? Vet seems to have thought it would have cleared by now, but he is older, so could it just simply take longer?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Average Cost

From 467 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,400

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