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What are Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers?

The condition is often called gastroduodenal disease and the ulcers that are symptomatic of this condition are called gastroduodenal ulcers. While there are numerous possible causes, these sores are most commonly caused by a bacterial infection within the gastric system of the cat and can result in abdominal discomfort, vomiting, and bleeding within the digestive tract and consequently in the feces. Pain is often worst when the stomach is empty or after consumption of fatty or spicy foods. Both the ulcers and the underlying cause will need to be treated under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Stomach and intestinal ulcers, also referred to as gastric ulcers, are open sores that develop on the mucous membranes that line the stomach and small intestines. These sores are then exposed to the stomach acid, which can be painful.

Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

From 522 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

Some cats suffering with stomach and intestinal ulcers will not present with any visible symptoms, which makes it nearly impossible for a pet owner to realize that the cat is experiencing nearly constant discomfort. Many cats with this condition, however, will experience the following symptoms:

  • Chronic vomiting, sometimes with blood in the vomit
  • Very dark red or black stool, which indicates blood in the digestive tract
  • Pale gums, which results from anemia, or low levels of red blood cells
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Borborygmus, which is internal gas noise, often called gurgles
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea, often bloody
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Causes of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

There are several possible causes of gastric ulcers in cats but the most common are the following:

  • Bacterial infection of the digestive tract, usually by one of the many variations of bacteria called heliobacter, which studies have shown is exceedingly common in the gastrointestinal system of cats.
  • Sustained use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Stress caused by surgery, injury, or shock
  • Various intestinal parasites
  • Underlying diseases such as renal, or kidney, failure, hypovolemia, which is low blood plasma, inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer
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Diagnosis of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

If you have observed any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you contact your veterinarian immediately as stomach and intestinal ulcers can be very painful for your cat and can sometimes result in life-threatening internal bleeding. In order to make a diagnosis of gastric ulcers your vet will likely employ the following diagnostic tools:

  • Ask you questions about the symptoms you have observed and how long it has been since these symptoms began.
  • Ask you about your cat’s diet.
  • Take a fecal sample to test for blood.
  • Test blood for anemia.
  • You may be required to return after a period during which your cat has not ingested water or food for a prescribed length of time
  • Perform abdominal ultrasound to locate possible ulcers.
  • Perform abdominal x-ray to locate possible ulcers
  • Perform  endoscopy to locate possible ulcers. An endoscopy consists of using a flexible tube called an endoscope that has a small video camera on the end. It can be inserted through the mouth to examine the stomach or through the rectum to examine the intestines. Your cat will be under anesthesia during this procedure.
  • Biopsy of gastric or intestinal tissue or of any tumors found in the stomach or intestines.
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Treatment of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

While stomach and intestinal ulcers are not exceedingly common in cats, it is not uncommon that those cats that are diagnosed with the condition are not diagnosed until they are in critical condition as a result of prolonged gastrointestinal hemorrhage, or bleeding. It is imperative that treatment begin immediately upon the diagnosis of gastric ulcers. Treatment of these ulcers requires treatment of the ulcers themselves and, even more important, the treatment of the underlying cause of the ulcers. Possible treatments include the following:

  • Intravenous liquids for hydration
  • Antibiotics to fight bacterial infection
  • Antacid medications
  • Bland diet
  • Cessation of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Rest and isolation for animal recovering from traumatic experience or surgery
  • Anti-parasitic medications if necessary
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Recovery of Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

Depending upon how critical your cat’s condition was at the time of diagnosis, your cat may need to stay at the veterinary hospital overnight or for several days for hydration, observation, and treatment. Your cat’s prognosis is dependent upon the underlying cause of the ulcers. The prognosis is usually not very good for cats that have developed ulcers due to cancer or kidney failure. However, cats that have developed ulcers because of bacterial infections, gastrointestinal parasites, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs usually have a positive prognosis after six to eight weeks of treatment. Your veterinarian may perform periodic endoscopies to measure your cat’s progress.

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Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

From 522 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

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Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Tuxedo cat

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Loss Of Appetite, Vommiting.

Oreo has been tested FPLI Pancreatitis, x-ray, general profile bloodwork-IDEXX. It has been an issue for 2 years, intermittent. The vet said to take a laxative after testing and home treatment. He got well on his on and now it's back but worse. Vomiting stopped. It's been almost a week and a new vet checked him and wants to do tests again. Could it be a stomach ulcer? Changed his cat food to science diet sensitive tummy. He now wants very little, but the change was just in case it's been his old food.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello Thank you for your question and the picture. An ulcer could be a reason for chronic vomiting, in addition to chronic pancreatitis, intestinal parasites, food allergy or GI lymphoma. After doing a food trial, it may be a good idea to consult with an internist and consider having endoscopy done. This is when they take tissue from the stomach and intestines and submit it to a lab for evaluation. Hope you kitty feels better soon.

July 27, 2020

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Minnie

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Minskin or Bambino hairless breed

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11 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

Cat Is Vomiting Red Blood

Picked up my cat from a boarding facility. My cat exhibited bloody vomiting and drinking excessively. Did my cat get a bacterial virus from the boarding facility?

Aug. 12, 2018

Minnie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Without knowing more about the vaccine status of Minnie and her history, it is difficult to say what might be causing that vomiting, but there are not many common diseases in cats that can be spread and look like that. There may be something else going on with her, and it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian to see what is wrong and determine how to stop that vomiting.

Aug. 12, 2018

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Puma

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Mixed (Feral)

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8 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Smelly Mouth

My cat has been vomiting for 4 days now. I gave him the regular vomit medicine that i give him when he is sick. Today he puked out all the fish he had eaten and just 5% of dry food. But there was a bit of blood in the end. It was light colored.

Aug. 11, 2018

Puma's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I'm not sure what medication you normally give Puma, or why he starts to vomit, but there are a few possible reasons for what you're describing. Kittens are prone to parasites and intestinal foreign bodies, and it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian who can examine him to see what might be going on and determine what treatment he might need, since he doesn't seem to be improving.

Aug. 11, 2018

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Squeek

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long hair

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Two Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Stool

My kitten is young and one of three in a litter he is the largest of the three, of the fattest, the most playful, the most loving. He does not have problems eating food, he is actually the first to get my attention when he is hungry. But sometimes I see his stool is dark and sometimes has blood in it. I am not sure what to do because he doesn’t act like he is in pain

July 22, 2018

Squeek's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Kittens are very commonly affected by intestinal parasites, and they can cause GI upset. It would be a good idea to have Squeek seen by a veterinarian, as they can analyze a stool sample, make sure he is okay, and give him any treatment that he may need.

July 22, 2018

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Luce

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Persian

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3 Months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Black Stool
Blood Inmouth

My cat was having skin infection both bacterial and fungal. Was under oral medicine terbinafine 40mg twice . Now blood is coming from his mouth and also black stools. I changed my vet now who has given Sucralpet sinjection.o vet had given him several injections too like Damadol, painkillers injection. I am very worried the blood was noticed since 3days.

May 29, 2018

Luce's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Luce, the medications that he was given, and his condition, I have a hard time commenting on what is going on with him now. It seems that your veterinarian is treating him for his condition, and if you have any concerns, you are always okay calling your veterinarian to ask follow up questions. I hope that he is okay.

May 29, 2018

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Harold

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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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

Increased Thirst
Not Eating
Vomiting Blood
Hyperthyroidism
Chronic Kidney Disease
Upper Respitory Infection
Irritable Bowel Disease

Hello, My cat has hyperthyroidism (had I-131 and a year later his hyper-T came back), irritable bowel disease, and chronic kidney disease (early stage 2). I took him to the vet this week because he was wheezing and they gave me clovamax for an upper respiratory infection and metronidazole to help with the GI effects. 24 hours later, he vomited bright red blood. He has had three ulcers in the past two years. I am taking him back to the vet tomorrow, but I am just curious as to what I can do to prevent these frequent uclers. Thank you.

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Winter

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Turkish Angora

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8 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

Vomiting
Blood In Vomit

Winter has been vomiting for almost two months now, and just a few days ago she vomited blood. I'm not sure what it is, but otherwise she seems normal. I am really nervous about going on vacation because of her.

Stomach and Intestinal Ulcers Average Cost

From 522 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$500

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