IBD in cats cannot be cured, but it is often treatable, giving cats who receive successful treatment a good life expectancy. Today, our Poway veterinarians discuss feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the outlook for affected cats.
What is IBD in cats?
Cats with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) have chronic inflammation in the lining of their stomach and/or intestinal tract, which makes it difficult for them to properly digest food and absorb nutrients.
What causes IBD in cats?
An abnormal interaction between the immune system, bacterial populations in the cat's intestines, diet, and other environmental factors may result in cats developing inflammatory bowel disease.
What are signs of cat IBD that I should watch for?
Since many IBD symptoms can be associated with other conditions, diagnosing IBD in cats can be difficult. IBD in cats can cause a variety of symptoms, including diarrhea, blood in the stool, lethargy, gas, a gurgling stomach, weight loss, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Can IBD in cats be treated?
A combination of dietary modifications, supplements, vitamin B12 injections, medications, and in some cases therapies like acupuncture or fecal microbiota transplantation can successfully treat feline IBD in many cases (FMT).
Important Note: Once your cat's IBD is being managed, symptoms may unexpectedly return and require adjustments to medications or diet. If your cat experiences a relapse contact your vet right away to book an examination for your kitty.
- A hypoallergenic diet may help to lessen symptoms if your cat's IBD is being brought on by an allergy. If your cat has never eaten venison, rabbit, or duck before, your veterinarian may advise feeding it food made of proteins or carbohydrates that are unfamiliar to it. In other situations, it might be advised to eat low-fat, easily digestible, high-fiber foods.
- Metronidazole has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antiprotozoal properties that may be helpful in reducing symptoms along with dietary changes. If diet modifications or metronidazole don't work, corticosteroids, strong anti-inflammatory, and immune-suppressing medications might be suggested.
Other Therapies for Cats with IBD
- Prebiotics and probiotics may help to correct the balance of essential good bacteria in your cat's GI tract.
- Adding Fiber such as psyllium to your cat's food may be recommended if they are suffering from inflammatory colitis.
- Folate or vitamin B12 can help if your pet is deficient in these due to the poor nutrient absorption associated with inflammatory bowel disease in cats.
- A fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) is a method of providing cats with IBD with a range of healthy gut bacteria from a donor patient.
What is the prognosis for cats with IBD?
For many cats with inflammatory bowel disease, the prognosis is good. Although there is no cure for IBD in cats, symptoms can often be managed, allowing your cat to live comfortably for many years.
That said, if your cat is not responding to the treatments above your vet may recommend further diagnostic testing to see if there is an underlying disease causing the symptoms.
Unfortunately, in some cases, inflammatory bowel disease can progress to become a form of intestinal cancer called intestinal lymphoma.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.