Malabsorption Average Cost

From 275 quotes ranging from $500 - 2,000

Average Cost

$850

First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What is Malabsorption?

This syndrome might be due to a lack of digestive enzymes, inflammation of the bowel wall, or an overgrowth of flora and fauna which interfere with digestion. The signs linked to malabsorption are weight loss and diarrhea, however these are general symptoms and not diagnostic in their own right.

Malabsorption is an umbrella term used when a cat is not able to properly absorb all of the nutrition from its food. Most commonly this is linked to disease processes affecting the small intestine, where most of the absorption takes place, but can also affect the large intestine.

Symptoms of Malabsorption in Cats

The symptoms of malabsorption are quite general and their presence alone is not sufficient to make a diagnosis. A persistent sign, such as long-term weight loss or diarrhea, needs investigation to determine the root cause, of which a form of malabsorption is one of many explanations. Indeed, even when malabsorption is diagnosed there is still a question as to what type of malabsorption the cat is suffering from. 

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Increased appetite
  • Dullness and depression
  • Poor coat 
  • Flatulence

Causes of Malabsorption in Cats

Poor absorption from the bowel has many causes. Key to treating the condition is to understand why the problem has developed in the first place. Some of the most common causes are: 

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI): A lack of digestive enzymes

  • Inflammation: the bowel wall may become swollen as a result of a dietary allergy, food intolerance, or conditions such as eosinophilic enteritis, in which one type of white cell floods the bowel wall.
  • Cancer: Bowel cancers such as adenocarcinoma or intestinal lymphosarcoma 
  • Infections: Such as campylobacter, cryptosporidia,  giardia, or parasitic worms
  • Damage to the gut wall: As a result of viral infections such as feline distemper, or an overgrowth of unhelpful bacteria.

Diagnosis of Malabsorption in Cats

It is helpful to build up a picture of how frequently the cat has diarrhea and its appearance. This enables the vet to decide if the problem relates to the large or small intestine, which may influence the choice of tests. 

A fecal analysis is useful to detect infection and parasites. When present, the vet may treat these first and see if the problem resolves. If it doesn't, then screening blood tests give information about organ function (of which diarrhea could be a complication). For example, a cat with overactive thyroid glands may develop malabsorption as a result of increased gut motility, and the key to treatment is therapy for the thyroid. 

Bowel function blood tests give a valuable insight into the health of the gut wall, and levels of pancreatic enzymes, which are also causes of malabsorption. 

Ultrasound scans enable the clinician to assess the thickness of individual layers of the gut wall. This can help differentiate between an inflammatory condition (such as inflammatory bowel disease, IBD) and cancer. However, in these cases, the ultimate diagnosis depends on cytology (a sample of cells) or histology (examining a biopsy sample)

If dietary allergy is suspected, then the vet may suggest feeding a hypoallergenic diet for a number of weeks, to see if this brings about a resolution of symptoms.

Treatment of Malabsorption in Cats

At first presentation the vet may try to relieve the symptoms using:

  • A low fat, highly digestible diet or a high fiber diet
  • B Vitamin injections to replenish low levels in the bowel wall
  • Deworming and / or an antibiotic such as metronidazole that has an anti-inflammatory effect on the bowel wall.
  • Probiotics: To re-establish a healthy population of bacteria in the gut

If the cat does not improve, then successful treatment depends on identifying the underlying reason for the malabsorption and addressing this.

  • Hyperthyroidism: Medication, surgery, or radioactive iodine therapy.
  • Cancer: Chemotherapy and surgery as necessary. Whilst lymphosarcoma responds well to chemotherapy, adenocarcinoma carries a much poorer outlook. In addition, bowel surgery to remove any cancerous areas is associated with a risk of complications, such as peritonitis.
  • Food allergy: Feed a hypoallergenic diet
  • EPI: Mix a supplement containing pancreatic enzymes into the cat's food
  • Bacterial overgrowth: Give a course of antibiotics that promote the growth of healthy bowel bacteria
  • Deworming: Or appropriate parasite control
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) If, despite dietary manipulation, the inflammation refuses to resolve, drugs such as steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs are most likely to be helpful. 

Recovery of Malabsorption in Cats

If the cause is an infection, then complete cure may be possible. 

If the cause is disease elsewhere, such as overactive thyroid glands, how well-controlled that condition is will influence how the malabsorption responds. In these cases, close monitoring is needed of the primary condition (eg the thyroid) in order to control the secondary condition (malabsorption).

In cats with dietary allergies or intolerance that leads to malabsorption, feeding a low-allergen diet can bring about a dramatic improvement. However, relapses will occur when the cat eats something they shouldn't.

IBD is one of the commonest causes of malabsorption, and also one of the most difficult to control. Affected cats are often subject to relapses or flare ups, so it's important to have a good rapport with your vet so that you have a plan in place to cope with these episodes. 

Malabsorption Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Coke
Mixed breed
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

malabsorption,skinny,always hungry

So I took my cat to the vet, he was de-wormed cause he had tapeworms for about a year, but the deworming didn't change the outcome: he's always hungry and he is skin and bones, even losing some fur/fur thinning. He use to have blood in his stool as well, the blood stopped when we put him on salmon cat food but he's still not gaining and still always hungry. I feed him 4 1/2 cans a day... no improvement. The vet also gave him a blood test and found that his blood is normal (and hasn't been much help since then). The cat is fine in every other area (energetic, ect)
P.S. he has to be on urinary tract food because he has had blockages a few times.
Also if he eats a new type of food, or even over eats reg food he will have diarrhea and vomit. Oh and his rectum swells up when he goes, but it goes back in when he's done

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations
It is difficult to say what is causing Coke to lose so much weight and have these symptoms; malabsorption disorders usually leave some indication on the blood tests (low albumin, total protein, minerals etc…). Hormonal conditions, liver disease (again would have shown up on blood tests), parasites, among other causes may lead to these symptoms but nothing is a perfect fit. You should think about visiting another Veterinarian for a second option to get their input since I cannot offer much help as I cannot examine Coke. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Coke's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Ginger
Domestic shorthair
13 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Crying, pulling fur, gas
Crying, pulling fur
Crying

Medication Used

none
No e

My 13 yr old cat Ginger has been steadily losing weight for several months. He lost two more pounds in the last two months and weighs 6.8 lbs now. He eats, but not as much as when he was younger. I started to put out less food about a year ago because he and his brother were throwing up, but I have gone back to leaving out a full bowl of kibble and a plate of wet food all day. Ginger cries a lot at night and walks up and down the halls wailing He also has been biting/pulling out his fur. He has large patches of fur missing from his belly and legs. His tummy rumbles quite a bit and he has gas but no diarrhea. We did a fecal test for parasites, two rounds of blood work to rule out diabetes and thyroid issues, X-rays of his heart, lungs and stomach. I tried giving him probiotics and digestive enzymes. We don’t know what could be wrong with him. Next I’m having his blood tested for malabsorption and the vet thinks we might have to do a sonogram too, but no guarantee of a diagnosis. Anything else you can suggest? I’m getting desperate to find out what is wrong with him. Thank you!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations
There are various possible causes for the symptoms you are describing, many of which should have been picked up if present on blood tests, x-rays and faecal floatation tests or would have been managed by supportive care (enzymes etc…); pancreatic disorders come to mind, but digestive enzymes should have managed that. It would be worth checking again for parasites as some worms do not shed eggs all the time, so a negative test needs to be repeated to be sure after around four weeks. Faecal examination for faecal fat and protein may be useful along with an intestinal biopsy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Ginger's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Emmy
house cat
14 Years
Critical condition
1 found helpful
Critical condition

My 14 year old kitty ,started chewing on white phone charging cords a year ago . I took her to the vet . She said she had a severe hyperthyroid . She has been on meds for it ever since ,she is now taking the highest dose possible . Mid way through she developed malabsorbtion. The doc has tried everything from antibiotics to steroids. She has frequent diarrhea, and a voracious appetite along with drinking water constantly. Nothing is working . I asked my vet if she could possibly have a cancer . All she did is shrug hershoulders. I am at a loss . I feel the only thing left is to put her down . She is suffering. Please advise..

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations
Malabsorption isn’t a singular condition, but a number of different possible conditions which require the treatment of the underlying condition and management of the malabsorption; further testing is required to determine the underlying cause which may involve blood tests and biopsies. Given Emmy’s age, we may be limited diagnostically but an x-ray or an ultrasound would be valuable to look for any masses or other anomalies which may be present. It may also be worth visiting another Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/malabsorption-syndromes-in-small-animals

Add a comment to Emmy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

kc
Manx
20 years old
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hunger

my cat is 20 years old and has developed an urge to eat constantly. i am concerned that this might be a sign of her getting ready to die? when she urinates it is a large amount. she also vomits on a regular basis

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations
An increased appetite may be indicative of a variety of different conditions which may include parasites, hormonal conditions, malabsorption, infections among other causes; the increased urination may also be caused by hormonal conditions, infections etc… Given KC’s age I would suggest taking her in and getting at least a blood test done to check her blood counts, liver and kidney function then go from there. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to kc's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Mac
Domestic ginger shorthair
10 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Weakness
Hunger, polydipsia, polyuria, weight loss.
Diarrhea, lethargy

Medication Used

Fortiflora

My 10 month old cat has suffered from mild to severe diarrhea for 6 months. In that time he's lost a significant amount of weight and is often lethargic and cold. He has sustained a great appetite, but he just doesn't get better. We've tested for parasites, he's been on several courses of antiobiotics, he's on daily probiotics, his blood work is inconclusive. The vet says it points to FIB but that test is inconclusive as well. For the past week he's been listless and weak. He still eats well but I've also stopped him from eating cat litter. What do I do next?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1988 Recommendations

It looks like Mac has had a comprehensive work up already in trying to determine the underlying cause. Other diagnostic tests that may be performed are biopsy of the intestine to look for mucosal damage or villous atrophy which may result in a reduction in the uptake of nutrients from digesta and an examination of the faeces for undigested food (not always reliable); tests for pancreatic function may also be helpful. If Mac is getting weak, he may need to be admitted for supportive therapy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Mac's experience

Was this experience helpful?