What is Feline IBD ?
In cats, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the most common cause of chronic vomiting and diarrhea. The term refers to a group of diseases that are characterized by the invasion of inflammatory cells into your pet’s intestinal wall.
Symptoms of Feline IBD
- Weight loss.
- Normal/increased appetite.
- Stomach rumbling.
- Black, tarry stools.
- Flatulence (from digested blood).
- Increased thirst.
- Abdominal pain.
In severe cases, weight loss can be extreme. Seldom will you find food in a cat’s vomit. Instead, the vomit usually consists of bile and mucus. The presence of hair or partially digested food in the vomit indicates that the disease also involves the cat’s stomach.
The most common form of inflammatory bowel disease in cats is the presence of lymphocytes and plasma cells, which produce a diagnosis of lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis (LPE).
Causes of LPE
This disease can develop in one of two ways. The inflammatory cells can enter the intestinal wall in response to an injury, infection, parasites, food intolerance, fungi, or cancer can cause activation of the immune system and subsequent inflammation.
Cats that are affected with LPE may have a defective intestinal wall barrier. This defect allows normal intestinal bacteria to leak into the deeper layers of the intestinal wall, and the body mounts an immune response to remove them. Subsequent inflammation damages the gut wall even further, allowing more bacteria to enter the deeper tissues.
History and Clinical Signs of Feline IBD
The most consistent clinical signs associated with feline lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis are those consistent with a small-bowel diarrhea syndrome.
LPE can occur in cats of any age. LPE can affect any area of the intestinal tract, and can also be very localized. Consequently, the symptoms of an affected cat are quite variable.
For example, clinical signs in some cats can appear suddenly, while in others, the signs can be more subtle and intermittent. Many cats experience exacerbation of symptoms only during times of stress, while others experience constant problems.
Vomiting may be the only symptom of LPE. Often, cats with chronic vomiting are misdiagnosed and treated symptomatically for stomach or pancreatic disease, when the disease is actually located in the small intestine.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Different tests must be chosen by your veterinarian to rule out infectious disease, parasites, obstructions and cancer. Metabolic disease (especially, hyperthyroidism), concurrent large bowel disease, and pancreatic insufficiency can closely mimic the symptoms of LPE and must be eliminated. It is also important that your cat is screened for the viral infections feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency because both diseases can be associated with IBD.
In severe cases of LPE, cats may have one or more abnormal test results that indicate advanced intestinal wall damage. In these cases, protein leaks into the intestinal tract and subsequently, cats can have abnormally low serum protein levels.
The best diagnosis of feline LPE can only be made by examining biopsy samples from the intestinal tract. The pathologist will usually report levels of LPE as mild, moderate, or severe.
Effective dietary therapy involves feeding the cat a diet that is unlikely to trigger an immune response within the intestinal tract.
In every case of IBD/LPE Prednisone (a potent corticosteroid) is usually the initial drug of choice by Allopathic veterinarians for treatment. These corticosteroids are powerful immune suppressives and anti- inflammatory agents. However,while treatment with corticosteroids MAY improve the fluid and electrolyte balance within the intestine and stop the diarrhea right away, they won’t heal your cat’s intestinal illness.
The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of your veterinarian. Please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet’s health.
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