Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats - Symptoms and Treatment

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Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD in cats It consists of the accumulation of inflammatory cells in the mucosa of the intestine. This infiltrate can be of lymphocytes, plasma cells, or eosinophils. In cats, it is sometimes accompanied by inflammation of the pancreas and / or liver, then called feline triaditis. The clinical signs are general ones of a digestive problem, although vomiting and weight loss frequently occur, unlike the chronic diarrhea that usually occurs in the canine species. A good differential diagnosis must be made between other pathologies that produce the same and the definitive diagnosis is obtained by histopathology. The treatment will be dietary and pharmacological.

Keep reading this article that we offer you from Animal Expert in which we address the issue of inflammatory bowel disease in cats, your symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

You may also be interested in: Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment Index
  1. What is and what causes inflammatory bowel disease in cats?
  2. Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in cats
  3. Diagnosis of feline inflammatory bowel disease
  4. Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease in cats

What is and what causes inflammatory bowel disease in cats?

Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD (Inflamatory Bowel Disease) is a chronic and unknown inflammatory disease of the small intestine. Occasionally, it can also involve the large intestine or stomach and be associated with pancreatitis and / or cholangitis, becoming known as feline triaditis..

In feline inflammatory bowel disease there is an infiltration of inflammatory cells (lymphocytes, plasma cells or eosinophils) in the lamina propria of the mucous layer of the intestine, which can reach deeper layers. Although the origin is unknown, there are three hypotheses about the causes of IBD in cats:

  • Autoimmune alteration against the intestinal epithelium itself.
  • Response to bacterial, parasitic, or dietary antigens from the lumen of the gut.
  • Failure in the permeability of the intestinal mucosa that causes a greater exposure to these antigens.

¿There is a racial or age predisposition in the development of feline IBD?

There is no specific age. Although it is seen more in middle-aged cats, younger and older cats can also be affected. On the other hand, there is a certain racial predisposition in Siamese, Persian and Himalayan cats..

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in cats

When an inflammation occurs in the intestine, the clinical signs are very similar to those of intestinal lymphoma, since, although this is usually more frequent in elderly cats, it is not exclusive. Thus, the clinical signs that a cat with IBD presents are:

  • Anorexia or normal appetite.
  • Weightloss.
  • Mucous or bilious vomiting.
  • Small bowel diarrhea.
  • Large bowel diarrhea if you are also affected, usually with blood in the stool.

If an abdominal palpation is performed, we may notice an increase in the consistency of the intestinal loops or the enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes..

Diagnosis of feline inflammatory bowel disease

The definitive diagnosis of feline IBD is by integrating a good history, physical examination, laboratory analysis, diagnostic imaging, and histopathology of the biopsies. A blood analysis and biochemistry, T4 screening, urinalysis, and abdominal X-ray to rule out systemic diseases such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or liver disease.

Occasionally, a blood count of chronic inflammation is seen with increased neutrophils, monocytes, and globulins. If low vitamin B12 appears, it may indicate that the problem is in the final part of the small intestine (ileum). For its part, abdominal x-ray can detect foreign bodies, gas, or paralytic ileus. However, the abdominal ultrasound It is the most useful imaging test, being able to detect a thickening of the intestinal wall, specifically the mucosa, and even measure it. It is not frequent in this disease that the architecture of the intestinal layers is lost as can occur in the intestinal tumor (lymphoma). You can also see an increase in the mesenteric lymph nodes and, depending on their size and shape, know if they are inflamed or if it is tumor..

The definitive and differential diagnosis with lymphoma will be obtained with the histopathological analysis of samples obtained by endoscopic biopsy or laparotomy. In more than 70% of cases, the infiltrate is lymphocytic / plasmacytic, although it can also be eosinophilic with less response to treatment. Other much less possible infiltrates are neutrophilic (neutrophils) or granulomatous (macrophages).

Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease in cats

Treatment of IBD in cats is based on a combination of diet and immunomodulators and, if any, treatment of comorbidities.

Dietary treatment

Many cats with IBD get better with a hypoallergenic diet In a few days. This is because it decreases the substrate for bacteria to grow, increases intestinal absorption and reduces osmotic potential. Although the change to these diets can normalize the intestinal flora, it is difficult to reduce the pathogenic species that overpopulate the intestine. In addition, if there is concomitant pancreatitis, antibiotics should be administered to avoid infections in the bile duct or intestine due to the anatomical characteristics of the cat (feline triaditis)..

If the large intestine is also affected, the use of high fiber diets. In any case, it will be the veterinarian who indicates which is the best food for cats with IBD based on their particular case..

Medical treatment

If a low amount of b12 vitamin, It should be supplemented at a dose of 250 micrograms subcutaneously once a week for 6 weeks. Thereafter, every 2 weeks for another 6 weeks and then monthly.

The metronidazole it is effective because it is antimicrobial and immunomodulatory, but it must be used correctly to avoid adverse effects on intestinal cells and neurotoxicity. In this article we explain what metronidazole for cats is. On the other hand, they are used corticosteroids such as prednisolone at immunosuppressive doses. This therapy should be done, even if the diet change has not been made to observe if there is food hypersensitivity, in cats that present marked weight loss and digestive signs. Prednisolone therapy can be started with 2 mg / kg / 24h orally. The dose, if improvement is seen, is maintained for 2-4 more weeks. If the clinical signs are subsiding, the dose is lowered to 1 mg / kg / 24h. The dose should be reduced until reaching the minimum effective that allows the control of the symptoms..

If corticosteroids are not sufficient, it should be introduced other immunosuppressants, What:

  • Chlorambucil at a dose of 2 mg / cat orally every 48 hours (cats weighing more than 4 kg) or 72 hours (cats weighing less than 4 kg). Complete blood counts should be done every 2-4 weeks in case of bone marrow depression.
  • Ciclosporin at a dose of 5 mg / kg / 24 hours.

The treatment of mild inflammatory bowel disease in cats it includes:

  • Hypoallergenic diet for 7 days and evaluate the response.
  • Metronidazole for 10 days at a dose of 15 mg / kg / 24 hours orally. Reduce the dose by 25% every 2 weeks until its withdrawal.
  • If they do not respond to the above, start with prednisolone at 2 mg / kg / 24h alone or in combination with metronidazole, reducing the dose by 25% every 2 weeks until the minimum effective dose is achieved..

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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