Enteritis in cats - Types, symptoms and treatments

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Inflammation of the small intestine or enteritis can affect our little felines. Most enteritis that affects cats are parasitic, bacterial or viral, so vaccination and deworming are key to avoiding this pathology. Enteritis in cats can cause gastrointestinal symptoms if the stomach is also affected, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes it is accompanied by fever, anorexia, abdominal pain, anemia, lowered defenses and bloody diarrhea.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about the enteritis in cats, the types, symptoms and treatments to apply according to the agents or pathology that affects your feline.

You may also be interested in: Enteritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment Index
  1. What is and what causes enteritis in cats?
  2. Symptoms of enteritis in cats
  3. Diagnosis of enteritis in cats
  4. Treatment of feline enteritis
  5. Prevention of feline enteritis

What is and what causes enteritis in cats?

Enteritis is called inflammation of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum). In many cases the stomach is also affected, in this case being called gastroenteritis.

In many cases, the cause lies in the cat eating or drinking something contaminated, in poor condition or ingesting a foreign body, often from the garbage. The latter in cats is not usually as frequent because they are more selective. Other causes of enteritis or gastroenteritis in cats are:

  • Coccidia (Isospora spp.).
  • Protozoa (Giardia spp., Tritrichomonas fetus, Toxoplasma gondii or Cryptosporidium parvum).
  • Parasitic worms (Toxocara cati, Toxascaris leonina, Dipylidium caninum, Ancylostoma tubaeformae).
  • Enteropathogenic bacteria (Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Clostridium).
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Food hypersensitivity.
  • Plant poisoning.
  • Feline Panleukopenia Virus (feline infectious enteritis).
  • Feline enteric coronavirus.

Symptoms of enteritis in cats

Symptoms of enteritis in cats can vary depending on the cause of the intestinal inflammation.

Symptoms of food poisoning enteritis

In cases of acute enteritis or gastroenteritis due to ingestion of contaminated food or water or foreign bodies, the main symptoms are:

  • Acute vomiting and / or diarrhea that may be watery, urgent, and bloody.
  • Anorexy.
  • Lethargy.
  • Mild abdominal pain.

Symptoms of coccidiosis enteritis

Isospore coccidiosis does not cause symptoms in adult cats, but in the young causes enteritis with clinical signs such as:

  • Watery diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Discomfort.
  • Dehydration.
  • Soft spot.

Symptoms of Feline Panleukopenia Enteritis

Feline panleukopenia virus causes severe enteritis with:

  • Decrease in white blood cells.
  • Fever.
  • Depression.
  • Anorexy
  • Severe vomiting.
  • Bloody diarrhea.

Feline enteric coronavirus generally causes mild, self-limiting diarrhea in kittens. The problem lies when this virus mutates and produces devastating feline infectious peritonitis..

Symptoms of protozoan enteritis

In cases of enteritis caused by protozoa ...:

  • In giardiasis, Although many are asymptomatic, in others there may be highly variable clinical signs, from acute, foul-smelling and mucus diarrhea to diarrhea with alternation of normal stools, with weight loss and sporadic vomiting.
  • In the cases of Tritrichomonas fetus, the last segment of the small intestine is usually affected along with the colon. Cats develop chronic large bowel diarrhea that does not stop with common antibiotic or antidiarrheal treatments and can progress to foul and watery small bowel diarrhea..
  • Infections by Cryptosporidium parvum generally do not cause diarrhea, same as Toxoplasma gondii, causing symptoms of enteritis with vomiting and / or diarrhea in some small or immunocompromised kittens.

Symptoms of enteritis due to other diseases or parasites

Depending on the disease or parasite, symptoms may be as follows:

  • Parasitic wormsParasitic worms typically cause weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, dull coat, and abdominal discomfort. In the specific case of hookworms, there will also be anemia with pale mucous membranes and blood in the stool.
  • Bacteria: Enteropathogenic bacteria cause acute or chronic diarrhea in cats, being much more important in young cats of communities or immunosuppressed. The enterotoxins of some of them can directly affect intestinal tissue or promote fluid and electrolyte secretion through interaction with mucosal receptors. They can also affect the large intestine causing acute enterocolitis with mucous stools, urgency to defecate and bleeding, along with vomiting, fever and anorexia..
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Chronic anorexia, diarrhea, and vomiting often occur in inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Food hypersensitivity: cats with food hypersensitivity can be affected by both gastrointestinal signs and skin signs with itching and external otitis.

Diagnosis of enteritis in cats

To diagnose acute enteritis or gastroenteritis from ingestion of contaminated food, water, or foreign bodies, a good anamnesis should be taken, demonstrate the absence of a cause for this symptomatology and the rapid response to symptomatic treatment. To do this, you must do the following:

  • Stool analysis and smear: In the diagnosis of parasitic enteritis, a stool analysis and smear should be done to diagnose Tritrichomonas fetus and giardiasis. The latter infection can be seen by a fecal flotation with zinc sulfate.
  • Stool culture: in bacterial enteritis, fresh stool culture or fecal cytology is useful for the diagnosis of Campylobacter jejuni or Clostridium spores.
  • Stool analysis- Stool analysis is performed to detect parasitic cestode worms, roundworms and hookworms.
  • Diet change: the diagnosis of hypersensitivity to food is made by feeding the cat with a diet with hydrolyzed or novel protein for a time, and returning to the previous diet to confirm it if the clinical signs return.
  • Biopsy and ultrasound- To diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, an intestinal biopsy and ultrasound should be performed.
  • Specific tests: specific tests are carried out for the diagnosis of viral enteritis due to Panleukopenia virus and feline coronavirus.

Treatment of feline enteritis

Depending on the root cause, treatments for enteritis in cats will consist of:

  • Supportive treatment: The treatment of acute enteritis or gastroenteritis due to ingestion of contaminated food or water or foreign bodies consists of supportive therapy until the clinical signs subside based on water and an easily digestible diet, fluid therapy and antiemetics.
  • Antiparasitic treatment: The treatment of giardiasis consists of applying an antiparasitic treatment with metronidazole or fenbendazole and decontamination of the environment by cleaning and disinfecting the environment with quaternary ammonium compounds. For his part, Parasitic worm infections are treated with different types of antiparasitics depending on the causative pathogen.
  • Sulfadimethoxine: Coccidiosis are treated with sulfadimethoxine.
  • Antibiotics: The therapy for bacterial enteritis will consist of the use of antibiotics, according to the results of the antibiogram. They are only used if there are very serious symptoms or that do not stop in a Salmonella enteritis, due to the development of antibiotic resistance. The treatment of inflammatory bowel disease also consists of the use of antibiotics such as metronidazole and a novel diet for a minimum of two weeks, and the use of drugs such as prednisolone if the disease is more severe or does not respond to the above. If they do not respond well to this treatment, immunosuppressants such as chlorambucil are added..
  • Elimination diet: to treat food hypersensitivity, an elimination diet with hydrolyzed or novel protein should be chosen.

For its part, feline panleukopenia does not have specific treatment, so, due to its high contagion capacity, the cat should be isolated and treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics and fluid therapy for dehydration.

Prevention of feline enteritis

The best way to prevent viral and parasitic enteritis is by vaccination and deworming, respectively:

  • Deworming: internal and external deworming should be carried out a minimum of three times a year, whether or not they go outside.
  • Vaccination: Vaccination of panleukopenia is carried out together with herpesvirus and calicivirus, in the feline trivalent or triple viral vaccine. The first dose should be given at 6-8 weeks of life, with revaccination every four weeks until week 16. Cats at risk should be revaccinated annually and those that do not present it, every three years.

Plant poisoning can be prevented by preventing our feline from being in contact with any of the plants that are toxic to cats..

Contamination of food or water can also be prevented by performing a frequent cleaning of containers and feeding them with quality food, as well as avoiding that they rummage in the garbage or that they ingest some type of foreign body.

For its part, inflammatory bowel disease and food hypersensitivity cannot be prevented, but it is possible to take the feline to the vet in the presence of any symptoms indicative of enteritis such as diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia and weight loss, to make it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com 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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