|Feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause inflammation of the stomach lining or
intestinal tracts, causing changes in the normal bodily functions that these organs perform. It's an uncontrolled
inflammatory response, resulting in the influx of inflammatory cells into various parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
IBD is not curable and there is no definitive cause. But it can be successfully managed through diet change,
medications, therapeutic and holistic treatments.
Over the years the possible causes have changed and evolved. It used to be thought that mainly food was the
culprit of this disease as we've strayed so far from a cat's natural and species appropriate diet, it's really no
wonder they are so sick. But there are many, many other factors at play here. Parasites that cause the cat to
produce antibodies which attacks its own digestive tract. Food allergies or intolerance (protein allergies and/or
grain allergies). An inappropriate immune response to the natural flora in the intestines, or the result of a certain
bacteria. Bacterial overgrowth as a result of over use of antibiotics which in turn kills off all the healthy bacteria in
the gut that's meant to fight inflammation, parasites, etc. Stress! Stress can cause mega changes in a person's
natural immune response and flora and it can do the same in a pet's system.
Environmental toxins such a the over production of "Roundup Ready" crops and grasses. Roundup and other
toxins from companies like Monsanto and Dow are banned in over 100 countries due to the extreme illnesses
and side effects being catalogued, such as kidney failure and cancer. Yet because our country employs people
from these companies in our own government, it's unlikely we'll ever see that happen here. So every time your
cat goes outside and eats grass, think about where that grass comes from and what it's being sprayed with by
either the company who makes it, or the consumer using Roundup itself. You can't control everywhere your cat
goes when you let them out. These are the new consequences along with the other dangers like vehicles,
weather, people, etc. But those particular toxins are not strictly outdoors anymore. Anytime you buy and use
grain litter, you run the risk of pesticides, mycotoxins and alfatoxins. The latter two occur naturally in nature and
cannot be controlled. They occur at higher levels in drought situations which the U.S. midwest has been in for
10+ years now. http://truthaboutpetfood.com/caution-to-use-of-corn-based-cat-litters/. And we also don't know
what the role of GMOs is playing in any of us, never mind our pets. There have not been enough studies done
on humans yet and I don't believe there are any studies being done currently on pets.
Over-vaccinations which can wreck havoc on their immune system and immune response. Studies show that
pets do not need to be vaccinated annually and that the duration of immunity is longer than what is currently law.
Unfortunately in most states rabies vaccine is required annually. Rabies is a serious and fatal disease and all
precautions should be taken. But I think over-vaccinating is not the answer.
IBD is not the same thing as IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is occasional GI and intestinal inflammation or
distress, whereas IBD is chronic and in some cases severe inflammation that spreads to other areas of the GI
tract, intestines and many other organs. Inflammation can cause such problems as malabsorption of nutrients,
poor digestion and scar-like fibrous tissue. Symptoms can range from vomiting, bad breath (halitosis), diarrhea,
constipation, increased thirst from dehydration, gas, rumbling and gurgling in the stomach, abdominal pain,
anorexia, moderate to severe weight loss, litter box refusal, dark/tarry stools, lethargy and depression, weakness
and fatigue, vitamin deficiencies and anemia. Once inflammation sets into the body, whether you're a cat or a
human, it usually means complications of some kind either from the disease or medications that can cause side
effects. Unfortunately, sometimes there's no way around that and the only choice is to treat the IBD or risk the
disease progressing quickly, complicating recovery further.
Expect frequent food changes. A diet change is inevitable to find the source of what's damaging the already
irritated GI tract. Your vet will probably recommend a prescription diet, although they usually contain the very
ingredients that help aggravate the inflammation. But sometimes prescription food does indeed help and if that's
all the cat will eat then it's very important to give it to them. It's extremely dangerous to let your cat stop eating
completely. If your cat is not receiving enough calories and nutrients, it can take less than 48 hours for other
health problems, such as fatty liver disease, to begin.
Keep a good stock of at least three to four different kinds of foods around at all times. A lot of people think at
first, as did I, that when your cat eats something one day and then refuses it the next, that it's just being finicky. If
your cat weren’t sick with IBD I would say that's possibly true. But Feline IBD creates a lot of nausea and what I
usually tell people is this: When you're sick with the flu or a cold and you vomit something you just ate, do you
want to eat that very thing soon after? No, you can't stand the site, smell or taste of it. It's the same thing with
your cat. Just move on to another one of the foods for a couple of days to a week and then maybe after your cat
has had a chance to forget the experience, go back to the other food again. Nausea is a very big problem in IBD
cats and one that affects their ability to stabilize the disease. Your cat may need to be on an anti-nausea and/or
anti-emetic medication in order to eat without vomiting.
Here's why it's so complicated. Your GI tract acts as a second brain with a rich network of nerves and ganglia,
communicating directly with the brain and the heart. Your digestive system also affects your moods through the
hundreds of chemicals and hormones it produces, which is why some cats suffer depression with this disease.
There are literally trillions of microbes inside of all of us, human and animal. Altering these healthy bacteria that
inhabit the GI tract can affect conditions ranging from IBD to asthma and allergies; hence, the food allergies and
other complications reacting to disturbances in the GI tract.
There can be considerable costs between the testing, diagnostics, food, treatments, medications and sometimes
hospitalizations. But without intervention your cat cannot start to improve until it may be too late to stop the
progression of the disease. Your cat is a valued family member and these treatments would be expensive even
for a human. Tests usually consist of a blood panel, a biochemical profile, a complete T4 to check for
hyperthyroidism, a urinalysis and fecal exam. X-rays and an ultrasound don't necessarily help diagnose IBD but
are useful to rule out other medical conditions such as cancer. The only definitive way to diagnose IBD is
through a biopsy of the intestinal tract where increased number of cells called lymphocytes, eosinophils, and
neutrophils are seen in the intestinal wall. The types of cells present will provide a complete diagnosis of which
type of IBD the cat has. It should be noted that a biopsy doesn’t always provide a definitive answer, as IBD is an
ever-changing condition. It should first be discussed with your vet as to whether your pet’s condition warrants an
immediate biopsy or if there could be complications from the operation. Sometimes there are underlying
conditions that can affect your pet’s ability to undergo surgery. It should also be noted that X-ray alone cannot
see everything, such as the pancreas, which is located behind the stomach. Pancreatitis often occurs with IBD
and should be something that is tested for with an ultrasound and a PLI blood panel. Please see the pancreatitis
page for more information.
If your cat is vomiting often that's usually an indicator that something isn't right. If the vomit consists of white foam
or bile with mucus, call your vet immediately and tell them you're concerned. Bile should not be regurgitated on a
normal basis and should always be checked. Also have your cat checked when there is any type of hard or dark,
tarry stool that may sometimes contain blood, or if there’s urine containing blood. Unfortunately as stated earlier
there can be a lot of complications with IBD if not checked and treated in a timely manner. Some of these include
hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, chronic renal failure or cancer. This doesn't
mean your cat will automatically get these complications. These are just things to keep in mind when putting off
that initial trip to the vet. Catching the disease in its earliest stages, before it can cause too much damage is the
goal. Once you have a diagnosis from the vet it's important to keep on top of the disease with constant
monitoring. Keeping a diary at home of your cat's day to day progress or decline helps you when speaking to the
vet or going for a follow-up visit. Also, making a chart to keep on the refrigerator of medications and times to give
them is a key to reducing the stress that becoming a caregiver will have on you and your family.
Ask your vet for a copy of all of your cat's records. That way if you do any research at home and want to know
what something means, you'll have your cat's exam results in hand. It'll help you to know where you stand with
his/her treatment and progress. So each time you bring your cat in for a checkup or more blood work, ask them
for a copy of what was done and the results when you go to pay your bill. Try to find a vet that you can have a
good relationship with. Look for a vet that's open to knowledge and understands that experience from other pet
owners is invaluable to treating these conditions. If you have a cats-only veterinarian in your area, it’s best to
take your cat there. Their main focus in vet medicine is on cats and the diseases that affect them differently than
other animals. In a dog, the bile duct and the pancreatic duct empty at separate locations in the GI tract. In the
cat, they join and empty at the same place, making it more likely for inflammation to affect the various organs. An
internist may also offer better treatment options if there's one available in your area. Just remember in any case,
to be as proactive as you can and learn as much about Feline IBD as possible.
These sites are for human IBD but are extremely informative and educational:
These links are for Feline IBD:
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