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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome often causes pain and discomfort in affected cats. Prompt veterinary treatment is recommended so that the cat can maintain a positive quality of life. With proper treatment, symptoms can be managed and the condition should not affect life-expectancy.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a sensitivity of the lower bowels characterized by frequent urges to defecate, diarrhea or constipation, and cramping. The condition is typically caused by stress, dietary intolerance, or a disruption in the bowel’s chemical functions. Irritable bowel syndrome is often confused with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The difference is that IBS occurs as a result of a psychosomatic (mental) condition while IBD is an inflammation of the intestinal lining caused by an underlying disease.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Average Cost

From 369 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in cats can range in frequency and severity and may include: 

  • Difficulty with defecation 
  • Chronic intermittent diarrhea
  • Frequent passing of feces 
  • Mucus or blood in the feces
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea 
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
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Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats

It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome. The condition is primarily related to stress caused by factors such as a change in living situation or routine, the addition of new pets or children to the home, trauma, or lack of stimulation. Other causes may include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Dietary intolerances
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • Abnormal colon function
  • Neural dysfunction 
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Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats

Prior to examination, the veterinarian will review the cat’s medical history and discuss details regarding the onset of symptoms. Owners should be prepared to provide the vet with information regarding changes in the cat’s personality, theories regarding other possible causes, and information regarding recent changes to the cat’s environment. A physical exam will be performed and a standard set of lab tests will likely be ordered to assess the cat’s overall health. This may include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, fecal examination, and electrolyte panel. Negative test results may indicate the presence of IPS since it is primarily a mental condition. X-rays or ultrasounds may be ordered to help with visual diagnosis and intestinal tissue biopsies may be recommended. 

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are similar to those of other conditions. Prior to making a definitive diagnosis, the vet will attempt to rule out other possible causes including inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, feline leukemia, metabolic disease, bacterial or parasitic infections, or cancer. 

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Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats

Unless the cat is severely dehydrated, outpatient treatment will likely be sufficient. There is no single treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, so the vet is likely to recommend a combination of therapies.

Dietary Changes

A hypoallergenic food trial may be recommended. This is done by feeding the cat a diet consisting of a protein and carbohydrate source that it has never previously consumed. Options may include duck, venison, or rabbit-based foods. During a food trial, the cat should not be fed any other substances including table-scraps, treats, or flavored medications. It usually takes several weeks or longer for improvements to be seen. After this time period, if the cat still continues to suffer from IBS, the diet may be changed again. Cats tend to respond well to diets that are easily digestible, high in fiber, and low in fat. Be sure to consult closely with the veterinarian throughout the process to ensure that the diet is appropriate for the cat’s breed, age, and level of activity.

Medical Treatment

Corticosteroids, primarily prednisolone, may be prescribed to treat inflammation. In some cases, antibiotics and/or immunosuppressive drugs will be prescribed. Each of these medications may cause serious side effects and close veterinary supervision will be necessary.

Veterinarians have recently had success in treating IBS with prebiotics and probiotics to help support the production and maintenance of the beneficial bacteria that aids in gastrointestinal health. 

Stress Management

If the cat is living in conditions that are causing undue amounts of stress, this will need to be addressed promptly. In some cases, anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed to help the cat deal with situations that cannot be otherwise resolved. Owners may also try using calming essential oil diffusers or sprays to help soothe the cat’s anxiety. Increasing the amount of human interaction and ensuring that plenty of toys are available will help to reduce stress and ensure that the cat is getting sufficient exercise.

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Recovery of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats

Although irritable bowel syndrome is not usually curable, symptoms can be controlled with proper ongoing treatment. It will be necessary to maintain the recommended dietary restrictions and ensure that the environment remains as stress-free as possible. Relapse is likely, making regular follow-up appointments an important factor in long-term recovery.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Average Cost

From 369 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$650

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Siggi

dog-breed-icon

Norwegian forest cat, Maine coon, ragdoll

dog-age-icon

17 Weeks

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,
Behavioral Issues

My kitten is about 17 weeks old. She has been having intermittent diarrhea for about 3 weeks now. Our first thought was that it might be her food. Initially, she had been weaned onto some basic kibble from the grocery-with cheap fillers, etc and a similar brand of wet food. Soon after we got her, we noticed that she was producing wet stool. We then switched her to what seemed to be a higher-quality brand, but the diarrhea persisted and I noticed that it contained corn. Around this time, I also noticed that her “third eyelid” protrudes, and it seems that she has Haw syndrome. Our vet told us to switch the food to grain-free and see if it clears up. So, about a week and a half later, we switched her again to a “wilderness diet” kind of kibble that contains no fillers of any kind. We had gotten her a very natural wet food as well but recently (2 days ago) cut that out too in case it might be the problem. We dewormed her for precaution (and bc she never was desormed at 3 weeks) about 4 days ago. From what I can see, she hasn’t eliminated any worms and the diarrhea and constant grassiness have not yet abated. Her stool will be more solid during the day, then in the evening it will be a soft-serve-like consistency. Most recently, she has continued pooping in her box during the day, but at night, precisely at around 10 pm on the dot right before my husband leaves for work, she has started defecating the soft-serve stuff on the floor next to her box. It’s just so odd that it’s always just once a day at the same time each night. I should mention that she seems to be fine otherwise. She plays a lot, cuddles a lot, and seems to be in a good mood pretty much all the time. Any help with this mystery would be greatly appreciated!!

Sept. 4, 2018

Siggi's Owner

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Kungpao

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

4 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

Diarreah,Pulling Out Fur

My precious adopted kitty has had chronic diarrhea since I brought him home he was 2 yrs.old he's now 4,I've taken him to vet several times,tried different diet suggestions,put through tests, and about $1000 later,diagnosed with IBD,we were givin prescription,including steroids ,he had a little blood in his stool,and outer anus red,painful &swollen,prescribed ointment for that,it cleared that up. He was also put on prescription diet,plant based dry food(I/Z for cats with food allergies,skin problems. Still suffers from very wet diarrhea and lately( he's never done before) been going under the dining table not pee, where its dark and "hidden"from us. He has always and is used to being an outdoor kitty, I've tried the lets make you inside only plan, he was miserable,so was I,he loves to climb trees and freedom, he Howell all day all night,24/7. I couldn't see him so sad and miserable,so gave in. I bought and tried really nice catio,so it's outside for him,but unable to do or go anywhere he wants so he's free to get into,eat anything he finds. He's an avid hunter too😫Always bringing home dead presents. I can't control that the way things are,(he refused and cried trapped in catio too) spent $600 on that,special expensive prescription food,which we can barely afford,and lastly,for about the past month,he's been pulling out chunks of his furr,I hear that's from stress,and will lay near me and meow ,nonstop,as if he's trying to tell me something,it has been suggested to take him back to best friends where I adopted him from,to being put down either one makes me sick and extremely sad and depressed,I just couldn't part from him. He's been like a service cat,I have seizure and have mental disorders,he is ALWAYS right by by side or on top of me,he cares so much a loves me so loyally, it's unreal. He has even saved my life once,literally,10 minutes from sure death. Nobody understands how much I love my kitty,he's my world,at the same time I want what's best for him,not be selfish .Can you please help,any suggestions? I would so appreciate anything you can give,kungpao will too. Thank you so very much!!!

July 28, 2018

Kungpao's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Conditions like this never have a simple one fits all solution, many times you spent your time trying to balance diet, environment and other factors to make the best living situation possible for them; I wish I could recommend a specific diet or other solution for the diarrhoea and pulling out fur but you really need to return to your Veterinarian to discuss the new symptoms and adjust as necessary. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Ray

dog-breed-icon

tabby orange long hair

dog-age-icon

11 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

Straining To Urinate
Straining To Defecate
Not Eating Much, Ibs (Ray Is 10-12)
Seems Painful

I have a cat Ray that is a hospice foster- he has IBS..we went through tons of meds and in the end a pre & probiotic is what seemed to help for several months. Five days ago he stopped eating very much, I noticed he is going to the litter box and straining to poop but nothing coming out...obviously he is not eating. I have been doing sub q fluids, b12, pre & probiotics, has been on cbd oil this week too- gave him some cat lax tonight & a little buprexex as he seemed really uncomfortable. He does not seem painful on belly, no enlarged tummy, bowels or bladder. I was reading this could be stress related? I will get in with my vet...originally I thought UTI but after reading info here I am wondering.

July 28, 2018

Ray's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are many possible causes for difficulty with defecation which may be related to the IBS or may be down to another cause including tumours, anal gland disorders, prostate disorders among other conditions. If Ray hasn’t responded to laxative treatment, you should wait until you see your Veterinarian before giving any further treatment and ensure that he is hydrated in the meantime. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 28, 2018

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Milo

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

7 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Smelly Loose Stool

My 7 month old male kitten had soft smelly stools since he was 2 months old. We started treatment with Royal Canin Sensitive diet and started showing good results, but around that time he was diagnosed with liver problems so we discontinued and concentrated on his Liver health. Vet has been giving him Liver supplements daily and his Liver is healthy now although he poops bad-smelling-loose-motion often. Now, from last 2 weeks the motion is loose frequently and he hates Royal Canin gastro-intestinal food. He prefers his usual wet food itself. Please advise. It saddens me as he's crying for his food and not as active as before, but still seems happy.

May 23, 2018

Milo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Since Milo has Gi issues and liver concerns, it would be best to ask your veterinarian which diet would be better for him, since I don't know details on his conditions. I hope that all goes well for him!

May 23, 2018

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Clancey

dog-breed-icon

Orange tabby

dog-age-icon

12 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

I have a 12yr. old male neutered cat who is about 14lbs. and very healthy (white teeth, shinny coat, bright eyes, not loosing weight). Started with diarrhea about a year ago. Vet did various tests, all came back negative. Tried all different types of food (single ingredient, sensitive stomachs, i/d, only chicken, etc.) with no results. He's been on a probiotic capsule for more than 2 months and NOTHING has stopped the diarrhea. Worst part is he's making a mess around my dog's weewee pad and occasionally a mess in the litter box. The ONLY cat food he will eat is any Fancy Feast Pate and Hills Dry i/d kibble.

May 4, 2018

Clancey's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is very difficult to say what may be causing the diarrhoea that Clancy is suffering from especially when all tests from your Veterinarian came back negative, conditions like colitis may cause diarrhoea but have other underlying causes which should be detectable on examination or tests. I’m not sure what the cause is, but would recommend visiting an Internal Medicine Specialist for a second opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://find.vetspecialists.com/

May 5, 2018

Try PERFECT FORM HERBAL DIGESTIVE SUPPLEMENT MADE BY THE HONEST KITCHEN,MIX WITH RICE FREE FOOD. IT WORK FOR ME THE FIRST DAY.

May 27, 2018

Ebo C.


UNSIGN ME YOU ARE NOT POSTING MY EXTEMELY HELPFUL COMMENTS.

May 27, 2018

Ebo C.


Clancy's OWNER, You need to try PERFECT FORM HERBAL DIGESTIVE SUPPLEMENT MADE BY THE HONEST KITCHEN. I purchased it from Chewy.com My Cat had Diarrhea for 3yrs I tried everything. This worked the first Day. I mixed it with Rice Free Wet Food, stopped giving her dry food that contains Rice. Rice ferments in the digestive tract and promotes more Diarrhea.

May 27, 2018

Ebo C.


I SIGNED UP NOW WHERE IS MY COMMENT????

May 27, 2018

Ebo C.


Clancey's Owner you need to try PERFECT FORM HERBAL DIGESTIVE SUPPLEMENT MADE BY THE HONES KITCHEN. I purchased it from Chewy.com It worked the first day, my Cat had Diarrhea for 3yrs and this stuff worked the first day. I mix it with Rice free food, Rice causes more Diarrhea in Cats with intestine problems. The Rice ferments in the digestive tract and causes more Diarrhea.

May 27, 2018

Ebo C.


Clancey's Owner you need to try PERFECT FORM HERBAL DIGESTIVE SUPPLEMENT MADE BY THE HONEST KITCHEN, works the first Day. I got it from Chewy.com and is very inexpensive. My Cat had Diarrhea for 3yrs I tried everything. I use this supplement with a grain free food. Avoid Rice in food it ferments in the digestive track. Good luck.

May 27, 2018

Ebo C.

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Norman

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Black white shorthair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Critical severity

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up
Hard Stomach
Dry Hard Stools

My poor boy is about 5yrs and he has been throwing almost his entire life. I've taken him to almost every vet. around here! He's been diagnosed IBS- IBD- nervous stomach- etc. Im so done, UGH They have RX him everything from Prednizone, to Tagamet, ID food. The only thing that hasn't been done to him is a scope. (No one has one around our area). He is real uneasy and all this throwing up CANT be good for his esophagus. He only throws-up liquid (pink color), NEVER any food or hair, which confuses everyone! When he purrs he sounds like he's gurgling(Not always), that's when I know he's going to blow! Please HELP I cant bare to see him go through this and Not do anything.

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Jasmine

dog-breed-icon

Tortie

dog-age-icon

16 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

Weight Loss
Weight Loss Diarrhea

My Jasmine is almost 16. We have labeled her to have IBD with diarrhea and weight loss for the past 4 years. Have changed diet several times, used probiotics, steroids and did well initially. Now she continues to lose weight . Friday we went to vet, spent $200 on labs including thyroid and all are normal. She is down to 5 pounds. Losing faith in vet and says she is old. She eats well but I don’t know where it goes. The more she eats the more stool she seems to have. It is getting very sad. I don’t want to lose her.

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Fred

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

14 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
Gas
Goes Outside Litterbox

My best buddy Fred has been dealing with IBS/IBD for over a year now. We've done SEVERAL rounds of antibiotics and steroids: some symptoms (inhaling his food and throwing up several times a day) improved once we switched to Hill's ID Digestive Health food, but the litter box issues (he goes once in the box, then goes on the floor next to the box), gas, and diarrhea improve only short-term. He's had issues with hairballs lately: he excessively grooms his little cat friend (who's indoor/outdoor, whereas Fred only has supervised outdoor excursions since he's been exclusively an indoor cat for the majority of the 10 years I've had him), so I added a bit of Purina ONE Naturals formulated for hairball control, and the hairball issue improved dramatically. However, I have yet to pinpoint a specific cause, emotional (Fred is needy,and extremely attached to people in general) or physical, and I'm just at my wit's end. I have a Feliway diffuser to help with stress when I'm at work (and it seems to have helped, some), and he has THREE litterboxes which are cleaned several times per day. I've read increasing fiber can help,but I've not yet discussed this with my vet. Fred gets EXTREMELY upset when we go to the vet, so I'd like to avoid a vet visit, if possible. Are Fred and I doomed to a perpetual cycle of prednisone, or is there something else I can try?

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Cleo

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

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

Weight Loss
Straining To Defecate
Loss Of Appetite

My cat has just been diagnosed about 3 weeks ago ... I'm devastated that I can't seem to help her be comfortable. She is on Hills I/D food - biscuits and soft meat (cans of food). I'm giving her meds at the moment (Flagyl) - how can I offer her some relief??? She looks so sad & despondent...

dog-name-icon

Sebastian

dog-breed-icon

Shorthair

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Vomiting
Drooling

Cat has had I.B.S for almost 10 years and has been throwing up and skipping meals off and on eating Hills prescription I.D wet food only. However recently, for treatment we have tried switching his diet to Hills prescription Z.D along with once weekly b12 shots and once daily 0.5mg of Budesonide liquid. Nothing is working and now he is even worse and projectile vomiting once a day and drooling frequently. Where to go from here? He has always been skinny due to his condition but now he is losing even more weight and is down to about 7 lbs.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Average Cost

From 369 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$650

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