Cats, just like humans and other animals, can suffer from various disorders in the stomach and intestines . These disorders can range from mild, short-term problems to more serious, chronic conditions. If you suspect your cat is experiencing gastrointestinal problems, it is important to consult a veterinarian; because the veterinarian can make a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment. Some common disorders of the stomach and intestines in cats include:
Types of Stomach and Intestinal Disorders in Cats
Gastroenteritis in cats is a general term for inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It may be caused by infections, dietary indiscretion, food allergies, or other factors. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and loss of appetite. This condition may occur as a result of the digestive system becoming irritated or infected for various reasons. It can develop due to many reasons, the most common causes include infections (viruses, bacteria, parasites), ingestion of foreign objects, nutritional errors and incorrect medication use. Treatment of gastroenteritis may vary depending on the underlying causes and severity of symptoms and should be carried out by a veterinarian. Pet owners should take regular veterinary check-ups and proper nutritional measures to maintain their cats’ health and prevent such problems.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is a group of digestive diseases characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, as well as by certain persistent symptoms and the presence of inflammation without a known cause. Cats with IBD often experience chronic diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. It can be difficult to diagnose and manage. Various forms of inflammatory bowel disease are classified based on their location in the body and the cell type involved. Lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis and eosinophilic enteritis are the most common types in cats. Although inflammatory bowel disease appears to affect all ages, genders, and breeds, it may be more common in purebred cats. Symptoms are usually long-term, sometimes coming and going. At this point, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in appetite, and weight loss may occur. There is an association between inflammatory liver disease, pancreatitis, and IBD in cats. The combination of these inflammatory disorders is often called triaditis.
Because many of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can also be seen in other diseases, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. In such cases, veterinarians often use blood, urine and fecal tests to distinguish it from other diseases and to identify complications such as low protein and electrolyte levels. Abdominal ultrasound can help identify abnormal parts of the digestive tract. In some cases, intestinal changes caused by the disease can be seen using an endoscope. Tissue biopsies taken with an endoscope or surgery are required for the diagnosis of IBD. The aims of the treatment are; reducing diarrhea and vomiting, promoting appetite and weight gain, and reducing intestinal inflammation. If a cause can be identified (such as diet, parasites, bacterial overgrowth, or drug reaction) it should be eliminated. Glucocorticoids, which suppress the immune system, are among the most commonly used drugs in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Antiparasitic medications, some antibiotics, vitamin supplements, immunosuppressants (drugs that suppress the immune system), or other anti-inflammatory medications may also be recommended by your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian may recommend feeding your cat a hypoallergenic or elimination diet. This ensures that your cat is fed a protein source that he/she has not eaten before. These types of diets are effective in controlling symptoms in some cats with inflammatory bowel disease, food sensitivities, or food allergies. However, some cats are reluctant to change the food. If your cat refuses to eat a recommended food, be sure to talk to your veterinarian and do not force him to eat the food or allow your cat to starve. Response to treatment varies by cat and the outlook is uncertain. Although inflammatory bowel disease in cats can usually be controlled with a proper combination of diet and medication, the condition rarely improves.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and can lead to digestive disorders. It may be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic), depending on whether the disease causes permanent damage to pancreatic cells. In most cases of pancreatitis, the cause cannot be determined, but risk factors include severe abdominal trauma, surgery, certain medications, and certain types of infections (such as toxoplasmosis, liver flukes, and feline infectious peritonitis). Cats with pancreatitis may experience lethargy, loss of appetite, dehydration, weight loss, low body temperature, vomiting, jaundice, fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.Some cats may not show any symptoms. Blood tests may be used by your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis, along with x-rays, ultrasonography, or, if necessary, a biopsy taken by needle or during surgery.
Treatment of pancreatitis includes careful monitoring and supportive veterinary care. In some cases, hospitalization may be required. If the cause is known, special treatment can be started. Your veterinarian may recommend medications to help prevent vomiting and nausea. Treatment with intravenous fluids may be required. In most cases, pain medication is given because it is assumed that the cat has abdominal pain. In mild cases of pancreatitis, the cat’s diet can be switched to a lower-fat diet and low-fat foods. Cats with mild, long-term pancreatitis should be monitored for other underlying diseases (such as liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease) and potential complications such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
Stomach ulcers are open sores in the stomach or intestinal lining caused by stomach acid or digestive enzymes. They can cause vomiting, decreased appetite, and painful abdominal discomfort.It is a rare condition in cats. Gastrointestinal ulceration is often associated with tumors in cats, but the cause may also be unknown. Cats with stomach ulcers may sometimes have no symptoms and may develop sudden, life-threatening bleeding in the digestive tract. In other cases, they may have a process that may appear less severe after eating, sometimes involving bloody vomiting and abdominal discomfort. Dark, tarry stools, indicating the presence of blood, and pale gums, suggestive of anemia, may be present. Symptoms may also be related to the cause of the ulcer (for example, symptoms of kidney failure).In cats with a history of vomiting, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, or unexplained weight loss, there are a variety of tests your veterinarian may perform to diagnose the cause. For such cases, blood tests, abdominal ultrasound scans, or X-rays may be used. Endoscopy and biopsy of the stomach and intestines are often recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
The purpose of ulcer treatment is to determine the cause of ulceration and then to eliminate and control it with treatment appropriate to the cause. Providing supportive care is also very important in this case. Drug treatment for ulcer disease reduces stomach acidity, prevents further destruction of the stomach lining and promotes healing of the ulcer. In general, treatment should be continued for 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes antibiotics are also used. Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate diet.
Constipation is the infrequent or difficult passage of stool. Fecal material is usually dry and hard. It is a common problem in cats. In most cases, the problem is easily fixed. However, in cats with more severe disease, accompanying symptoms may be severe. Constipation in cats; It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as diet, dehydration, or underlying medical conditions. Chronic constipation can lead to more serious problems such as constipation (severe, long-term constipation) or megacolon (enlarged, non-functioning colon). The longer stool stays in the colon, the drier, harder and harder it becomes to pass.
Long-term constipation can be caused by a blockage inside the intestines, narrowing from outside the intestines, or neuromuscular problems in the colon itself. Obstruction is the most common cause of this condition and is caused by the cat’s inability to pass indigestible, often hard substances (such as hair, bones, stones) mixed with fecal material. Dry, hard stools may also occur due to insufficient water intake or reluctance to defecate. Some cats with long-term constipation or normal-term constipation may develop megacolon, an enlarged bowel caused by a defect in the muscle strength of the colon. The cause of megacolon often cannot be diagnosed.
Symptoms of constipation include; It includes difficulty in defecation and the passage of hard, dry stools. If you observe similar symptoms in your cat, it is recommended to visit your veterinarian. Mild constipation can often be treated by switching to a high-fiber diet, preventing your cat from eating bones or other objects, providing easy access to water, improving opportunities to defecate. Sometimes, your veterinarian may also request the use of the laxative medicine he recommends for treatment. In such a case; Be sure to only use laxatives for your cat recommended by your veterinarian. Laxatives formulated for human use can be very dangerous to pets.
Parasites are a common cause of gastrointestinal problems in cats. Many kittens acquire roundworms from their mothers by sucking milk containing roundworm larvae. Adult cats can become infected by eating contaminated dirt or infected prey. Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms can infect a cat’s gastrointestinal tract, causing certain symptoms. These; These were conditions such as diarrhea, weight loss and abdominal discomfort. If left untreated, intestinal parasites can make cats very sick. Getting rid of intestinal parasites is quite simple. First the parasite must be identified (often through microscopic fecal examination performed by a veterinarian) and then the cat must be treated with an appropriate antiparasitic medication according to label instructions.
The large intestine (also called the colon) helps maintain fluid and electrolyte (salt) balance and absorb nutrients; It also temporarily stores feces and provides an environment for healthy gut bacteria. Diarrhea often occurs when the large intestine is damaged by disease, parasites, or other causes. Colitis is inflammation of the colon and can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain, often with mucus or blood. Colon inflammation can be short- or long-term. Factors such as stress and nutrition can lead to colitis in cats, but in most cases the cause is unknown. Bacterial, parasitic, traumatic, renal-related and allergic causes are suspected for this disease. Inflammation may be the result of a defect in the function of the immune system in the colon. An exaggerated reaction in the intestine to dietary or bacterial factors, genetic predisposition, or the consequences of previous infectious or parasitic disease is another suspicious condition that raises suspicion.
Cats with chronic colitis tend to be middle-aged and mostly purebred. Cats with colon inflammation have a history of difficulty defecating and passing mucus-laden stools that sometimes contain bright red blood. The stool is usually small in volume and more liquid in consistency. Weight loss and vomiting are rare.
If possible, the cause of the inflammation should be determined and eliminated. In such a case, your veterinarian will ask detailed questions about your cat’s history and perform a physical examination. Experimenting with specific foods can also be used to diagnose some causes of colitis.
Treatment is based on the underlying cause. During this process, follow your veterinarian’s nutritional recommendations. In certain cases, you may be asked to withhold food for 24 to 48 hours to give the cat’s digestive system a rest. When feeding is restarted, soluble fiber is often added to the diet. Over time, fiber dosage can often be reduced or eliminated. Your veterinarian may also recommend a food containing a protein source your cat has not eaten before, such as mutton, lamb, venison or rabbit. This is to identify any food allergies your cat may have. To help symptoms improve faster, your veterinarian may add an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication to the diet change.
Long-term colitis is likely to improve initially, but symptoms often recur. Therefore, if symptoms are suspected, it may be helpful to visit your veterinarian immediately. Most cats with inflammatory bowel disease cannot be cured and need some type of long-term treatment.
Gastrointestinal Tumors can be benign or malignant and can cause a variety of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. Gastrointestinal tumors in cats are abnormal cell growths or masses that occur in the gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach, intestines, or other digestive organs. The types and origins of these tumors may vary. There are different types of gastrointestinal tumors in cats. These include:
Adenocarcinoma: These types of tumors arise from glandular cells lining the lining of the stomach and intestines.
Lymphoma: It is a type of cancer arising from the lymph nodes or lymphoid tissue parts of the intestines.
Fibrosarcoma: It originates from the connective tissue found in the tissues of the digestive system.
Gastrointestinal tumors in cats are a serious health problem and should be treated by a veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment can increase cats’ survival and quality of life.
Some cats can develop food allergies to certain commonly found ingredients in their food, which can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms. Gastrointestinal problems are common in cats with food allergies. At this point, itching and skin lesions are often the primary concern of pet owners. On the other hand, if a cat has a food intolerance, symptoms are usually limited to the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and gassiness). Identifying and eliminating the allergen is key to managing this problem. If you give the food a rigorous trial with the knowledge of your veterinarian and your cat’s symptoms disappear, you can continue feeding that food. Some cases of food allergy (but not intolerance) may require treatment with an immunosuppressive drug such as prednisolone, budesonide, or chlorambucil.
Foreign Body Ingestion
Cats are curious, and some of them take almost everything into their mouths. As a result of such situations, they can sometimes swallow foreign objects such as hairballs, strings or toys, and this can cause blockages in their gastrointestinal systems. If these objects are small or at least partially digestible, they can pass through the gastrointestinal tract without any problems, but in the worst-case scenario they can get stuck somewhere during the journey. Gastrointestinal foreign bodies can often include symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, a painful abdomen, vomiting, and discomfort in cats. Veterinarians who suspect that the cat has swallowed a foreign object often take an abdominal X-ray to look for evidence. Removal of a gastrointestinal foreign body can be done with an endoscope, but in certain cases surgery may be required to remove the object and repair the damage it has caused.
Diagnosing Stomach and Intestinal Disorders in Cats
Accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders in cats should be made by a veterinarian. The veterinarian tries to determine the cause of the condition using various methods and tests. Here are the frequently used methods for diagnosing stomach and intestinal disorders in cats:
Physical Examination: The veterinarian will physically examine the cat to try to detect any obvious abnormalities. Abdominal bloating, tenderness, or other physical symptoms may be significant.
Medical History: The cat’s medical history can help determine the origin of the condition. The veterinarian obtains information about when symptoms began, feeding habits, and previous health problems.
Blood Tests: Blood tests can provide information about the cat’s overall health. In particular, factors such as signs of infection, inflammation indicators and electrolyte balance are checked.
Radiographs (X-rays): Radiographs of the abdominal area can help show abnormalities in the stomach, intestines, and other internal organs. Structural problems such as swallowed foreign bodies or tumors can be detected this way.
Ultrasonography: Ultrasonography provides more detailed images of organs. Examining the intestinal wall can help identify blockages or other problems.
Endoscopy: Endoscopy is used to examine the inside of the stomach and intestines. It can also be used to take samples or remove foreign objects.
Stool Samples: Stool analysis can help identify the cause of stomach and intestinal problems, such as parasites or bacterial infections.
Biopsy: The veterinarian can identify tumors or other serious problems by taking a biopsy of stomach or intestinal tissue.
Depending on the cat’s symptoms, medical history, and examination findings, the veterinarian selects appropriate diagnostic methods. Diagnosing the cat is important to determine the cause of the condition and evaluate appropriate treatment options. Following your veterinarian’s recommendations will help you maintain your cat’s best health.
Treatment of Stomach and Intestinal Disorders in Cats
Treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in cats may vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. . Following your veterinarian’s recommendations is the most important step, because each disorder may require a specific treatment approach. But in general, some common strategies for treating gastrointestinal disorders include:
- Dietary Changes:
- Your veterinarian may recommend commercial feeds specifically designed for gastrointestinal upset in cats. These foods have ingredients suitable for cats with sensitive digestive systems.
- Depending on your cat’s discomfort, the veterinarian may recommend that your cat starve for a certain period of time or be fed light food.
- Fluid Therapy:
- Fluid supplements may be necessary to reduce the risk of dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting. The veterinarian may recommend fluid infusion or oral fluid supplementation.
- Medications may be prescribed to control diarrhea and vomiting.
- Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can be used to control inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
- Treatment of Foreign Bodies:
- Cats sometimes swallow foreign objects. The veterinarian can evaluate whether surgery is needed to remove or treat these objects.
- Basic Health Care:
- Paying attention to your cat’s basic health, minimizing stress, and providing regular veterinary checkups can help prevent gastrointestinal upset.
- Food Sensitivity Tests:
- If your cat is sensitive to certain foods, your veterinarian can develop a special diet plan.
Treatment will vary depending on the cause of the condition, the severity of symptoms, and your cat’s general health. Your cat’s veterinarian will perform the necessary tests and make recommendations to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. In case of any health problem, it is very important to consult a veterinarian.