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Cat IBD: Dealing With Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Cat IBD: Dealing With Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease

cat inflammatory bowel diseaseLately, I hear more and more about people suffering from bowel disease conditions. Television advertisements tout the latest OTC treatments and Rx advancements, and I cringe and thank heavens I’ve dodged that bullet. IBD happens with cats, too. It can be particularly frustrating when cats develop hit and miss potty behavior or vomiting as a result.

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES only from Amy’s Newsletter

Tomorrow (October 29) is National Cat Day and I hope this info will help some pet parents who must deal with this particular health condition. I’m sharing this information from my CAT IBD entry from Cat Facts, The Series 9 (I): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Ibuprofen, Identification, Imaging (CT and MRI), Immune System, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Insect Bites and Stings, and Introducing Pets.

I’ve broken the massive CAT FACTS book into catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every week or so, but ONLY for subscribers on my Amy’s Newsletter Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to the chronic inflammation of the small intestine and occasionally the stomach. The cause isn’t known, but it’s suspected that something prompts the immune system to misfire and attack its own cells. The inflammatory response plugs up the tiny microscopic filaments that line the surface of the intestinal tract and transfer nutrients into the bloodstream.


Chronic vomiting is the most common sign of IBD. Episodes may be sporadic and occur during times of stress, or vomiting can be continuous. The cat also may frequently strain to defecate but pass only small amounts of feces which may be blood streaked. The homeopathic remedies Nux vomica and Arsenicum are helpful to stop both diarrhea and vomiting.


Diagnosis usually is made only after ruling out other causes for vomiting, such as giardia, trichomoniasis, heartworms, or a swallowed object. Conclusive evidence requires a biopsy of the intestine. A sample of tissue is removed surgically from the anesthetized cat for microscopic evaluation.

Sometimes a special instrument called a colonoscope is inserted into the cat’s rectum to view the tissue. But because only portions of the tissue may exhibit inflammation, even then diagnosis may not be definitive. The disease over the long term can result in scarring.


Some research supports the notion that a food allergy may be at fault, and in some cases a limited antigen diet may help the cat. Home prepared or even raw food diets have helped some cats.

Inflammatory bowel disease includes the damage or malfunction of the normal barrier protection in the gut. Damage can allow a kind of leakage of large protein particles, and give them contact with the immune system. Drugs to treat bacterial overgrowth or parasite infection may be prescribed. Immune-suppressing drugs may also be beneficial.


Holistic veterinarians recommend dietary changes based on the individual cat. In one Morris Animal Foundation funded study, veterinarians at Colorado State University reported that probiotics improved/reduced diarrhea in up to 70 percent of cats.

Digestive enzymes or herbs may also be recommended. Because inflammatory bowel disease often damages cells in the intestine, supplements containing glutamine are thought to help rebuild the intestinal lining and aid in its function. For more information about alternative options, refer to New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats.

Medical marijuana today is also available for pets, but must be formulated so that pets receive the medical benefits of the hemp plant while reducing potential toxic concentrations of the herb. Hemp can be used to control pain and inflammation. Ask your veterinarian if this supplement may benefit your pet.

Has your cat been diagnosed with IBD? How do you manage the symptoms? Please share!

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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!