Possible Causes

By Lisa Provost

There is technically no way to really tell what caused your cat’s IBD. But sometimes you can narrow it down through trial and error and find some possibilities.

Bacterial Overgrowth – Bacterial overgrowth can be a result of overuse of antibiotics which in turn kills off all the healthy bacteria in the gut that’s meant to fight inflammation, parasites, etc. It can also be caused by parasitic activity which can cause the cat to produce antibodies that attack its own digestive tract.

Dental disease – There is no current information as to whether dental disease can contribute to IBD but I don’t see why not. Dental disease can cause major health issues like heart and kidney disease. As with humans, anytime there is inflammation in the gums that worsens and gets infected, it easily goes into the blood stream. Inflammation spreads, there is no doubting that. If the inflammation begins in the mouth and it’s left unchecked and treated, it can easily spread to the GI tract, then to the intestines. Dental disease is not to be taken lightly in cats and can be extremely painful and take years off of their lives.

Environmental toxins – Pesticides, mycotoxins, alfatoxins, PFAS, PFOS and forever chemicals, microplastics. Forever chemicals and microplastics are literally in everything; food, water (both city and well water), soil, all household furniture and products, cleaning supplies, cookware…the list is endless and it’s causing inflammatory conditions in not only domestic pets, but wildlife and humans at an alarming rate. Science is finding that these chemicals have been doing damage to our systems for much, much longer than previously thought. PFAS is causing an epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats more than any other species because they lick and bathe themselves. All the time they spend cleaning themselves, they’re ingesting PFAS from flooring, furniture, carpets, etc. Microplastics which are rampant in food and water, are causing an epidemic of IBD in human, wildlife and domestic animals. Microplastics and PFAS have been discovered in polar bears all the way in Antarctica, and they have found evidence of IBD per necropsies. While everyone wants to blame pet food (and yes these chemicals have been found in pet food), these chemicals are in literally everything we touch and ingest.

Food allergies or intolerance – (protein allergies and/or grain allergies). Their immune system is overly sensitive to certain everyday substances and begins to identify them as dangerous.

Gut flora/bacteria – An inappropriate immune response to the natural flora in the intestines, or the result of a certain bacteria.

Gums/thickeners – Carrageenan is the big one. Scientific studies have shown that carrageenan can induce inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both humans and animals. Cats have also been known to react to guar gum, locus bean gum, Xanthan gum and many others.

Infection – The intestinal tract harbors good bacteria and bad bacteria. If infection is chronic, the bad bacteria can take over and if this happens gradually enough, you may see a lymphocytic response to the resulting inflammation.

Obesity – Being overweight is no fun for anyone. A cat is considered overweight when they weigh 10-20% more than their ideal body weight. 20% is considered obese. Too many times I see posted pictures of cats with jokes about how “chonky” they are. While it sounds like it’s all in good fun, being obese leads to MANY other health conditions and a shorter life span; diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, respiratory diseases, cancer, arthritis, bladder stones and complications from anesthesia during medical procedures. Scientific evidence shows that fat tissue is biologically active. It secretes inflammatory hormones and creates oxidative stress on the body’s tissues.

Over vaccination – Over-vaccinations can wreck havoc on their immune system and immune response and in turn cause the body to develop allergy responses. It is the law in most places and with good reason. Rabies is a fatal and horrible disease. However, long time studies have shown that rabies vaccines stay in the body for MANY years and they don’t need yearly vaccines. If anything I would like to see laws where they allow for yearly titers to measure the amounts of antibodies still present and then go from there on whether they’d need a new vaccine, a booster, or they could possibly wait another year or a couple of years. In the meantime, state and county laws should be followed. You should always speak to your veterinarian about any vaccinations.

Poor Diet – Adding ingredients like grains, soy, starches, sugars, carrageen, kelp etc. Cats are obligate carnivores; always were, always will be. Dry food is not the best diet for cats as it depletes the system of moisture and usually contains too many grains like corn which turn to sugar. This can lead to diabetes, obesity etc. If this is all your cat will eat, or that’s what helps their IBD or other health conditions, then we put aside our feelings about what food they’re ingesting and give them the quality of life they need. The best diets are raw, home cooked (properly balanced) or wet food. Also, a diet with ingredients high in iodine like kelp or too much fish can contribute to hyperthyroidism which is also at outrageous levels. 1 in 10 cats will develop hyperT according to studies. And hyperT is as bad or worse as IBD.

Stress – Stress can cause many changes in a person’s natural immune response and flora and it can do the same in a pet’s system. You’ll notice since they’ve developed IBD or intestinal issues, their stress levels have gone up and their threshold has gone down. Small things can affect a pet’s stress, especially when they’re already sick. Think about ways to decrease those stress levels at home if possible. Feliway plug ins, a calm quiet atmosphere if possible (not an easy task sometimes), bonding time with your kitty, calming supplements, or if they’re anxiety is too much for them, possibly anxiety medication per your veterinarian.

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