Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, in cats can actually refer to several different disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. It is relatively common in cats, especially during middle age and senior years. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and see your vet in San Jose if you think your cat could be affected. Although the disease can be managed, getting a diagnosis as early as possible will improve your catâs quality of life. Here are the answers to questions cat families often have about IBD.
What causes IBD?
For some cats, IBD is triggered by a food allergy, but more commonly, the cause is unknown. Vets suspect that the breakdown of bacteria in the digestive tract allow inflammatory cells to breach the wall of the tract and cause symptoms. However, the reason for the breakdown of the bacteria is not known. Despite testing, your vet may not be able to isolate the cause of your catâs IBD.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of IBD in cats are similar to those in humans. Your cat may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. He or she may also become lethargic. Some cats with IBD exhibit a significant increase in their appetites, while other cats become anorexic. In severe cases, cats with IBD vomit after every meal. The exact symptoms cats experience depend in part on the part of the digestive tract that is affected by the inflammation. Chronic vomiting is a common symptom with IBD in the upper part of the digestive tract, while diarrhea and bloody stools occur most often when inflammation is in the colon.
How is IBD diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosing IBD is a lengthy process, because your vet must first rule out other conditions, like feline leukemia, metabolic disease, and infections. Typically, your vet will order blood work, diagnostic scans, and fecal exams to rule out other issues. Next, an intestinal or gastric biopsy is required to determine if there is an increased amount of inflammatory cells present. If IBD is diagnosed, your vet may attempt to treat it with dietary management, and if that is unsuccessful, medical treatment with corticosteroids and other medications may be necessary.