What is Stomach Motility Disorder?
If you notice your cat is having gastrointestinal issues, such as excessive vomiting or burping, take him to a vet as soon as possible. A stomach disorder could signal an underlying health condition, such as ulcers or kidney failure, that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
In order to properly digest food, the muscles in your cat’s stomach must contract multiple times to push the food into the small intestine. A stomach, or gastric, motility disorder, occurs when these muscles contract too much or too little. The stomach’s contractions can be affected by a number of different factors, including stress, inflammation, certain medications, or blockages.
Symptoms of Stomach Motility Disorder in Cats
Stomach motility disorders interrupt the normal functions of the stomach, causing your cat discomfort. Most of the symptoms associated with a stomach disorder are fairly easy to spot. Some of the signs of this stomach disorder include:
- Vomiting after meals
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Eating unusual, non-food items
Causes of Stomach Motility Disorder in Cats
Cats can suffer from a stomach disorder at any age, however, it is most common in adult cats and cats who have previously had gastric surgery. There are a number of different factors that could contribute to the onset of a stomach disorder, including:
- Kidney failure
- Low potassium levels
- Stomach inflammation, known as gastritis
- Blockages in the stomach or small intestine
- Gastroesophageal reflux
In other cases, the cause of a stomach disorder is unknown, or idiopathic.
Diagnosis of Stomach Motility Disorder in Cats
When you begin to spot symptoms of a stomach disorder, bring your cat to a veterinarian right away. Explain what symptoms you have observed, when they began, and how frequently they have occurred. If you have recently changed your cat’s diet or medication, be sure to mention this to the vet so he can explore whether this has irritated your cat’s stomach.
The vet may start with a complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemical profile to determine if chemical imbalances or kidney failure is to blame for the symptoms. An endoscopy, which involves putting a thin tube with a light and camera down the throat of your cat, may be done so the vet can examine how the stomach is functioning. An endoscopy can help identify whether there are ulcers, blockages, or masses in the cat’s stomach that could be causing the stomach disorder.
The vet may also want to perform contrast radiography to take a closer look at the stomach. To perform a contrast radiography, the vet will feed your cat a mixture of food and barium, which is a substance that shows up clearly on X-rays. Once the cat has been fed the barium food mixture, the vet will be able to observe it through X-rays as it moves through the gastrointestinal system.
If all of these tests are done and no definite cause is found, the doctor could diagnose it as an idiopathic stomach disorder, meaning there is no known cause.
Treatment of Stomach Motility Disorder in Cats
The treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the stomach disorder. In most cases, you will be allowed to take your cat home with you after seeing the vet. However, if the cause of the disorder is a blockage, your cat may need surgery so the vet can manually remove the mass or foreign object.
When the cause of the disorder is an ulcer, prescription medication will be needed. The vet may prescribe antacids to reduce the amount of acid present in the stomach, or, if it determined the ulcer is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed instead.
The vet may administer IV fluids if tests show he has an electrolyte imbalance or is severely dehydrated from vomiting. But in most cases, the vet will simply recommend that you change the cat’s diet to improve the functioning of the stomach. There are also prescription medications that can help stimulate movement of the stomach’s muscles, however, the vet may want you to try changing the cat’s diet before resorting to medication.
Recovery of Stomach Motility Disorder in Cats
Cats should fully recover from stomach motility disorders with the proper treatment. Regardless of what kind of treatment your cat received, you will probably be asked to change your cat’s diet at home. Before you leave the vet’s office, make sure you have a clear understanding of what kind of diet you should feed your cat moving forward. The vet may ask that you stick to liquids or soft, mushy foods in the beginning in order to facilitate digestion. Carbohydrates pass through the stomach quicker than fats or proteins, so it is likely that you will be asked to feed your cat a high carb diet.
After you change your cat’s diet, you must closely watch to see if the symptoms of a stomach disorder persist. If they do, your cat may need additional treatment such as medication to stimulate the stomach’s movement.