What is feline inflammatory bowel disease?

Feline inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a condition in which the cat's digestive system frequently gets irritated. IBD is not a single disease, but rather a bunch of them that tend to infect a cat and cause an increase in inflammatory cells in the lining of the cat's digestive system, cells which can reduce the functionality of the stomach and the intestines. These cells are parts of the cat's immune system and go into the stomach to fight off the infections, but the result is the inflammation and digestive troubles.


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What are the symptoms?

Basically all the things you would think of as associated with digestive problems. Frequent vomiting by your cat, along with feline diarrhea, are both common symptoms that you might see. You may see just one, or you may see both at the same time. Cats may stop wanting to eat, and they may lose weight as a result. Often the symptoms will be there for some time and then go away for a period, then recur again afterwards.

What is the treatment for IBD in cats?

The treatment for inflammatory bowel disease in cats usually involves first diagnosing it to a certainty. This requires a gross but pretty harmless procedure called a biopsy, in which a little tube is run into the cat's stomach to take small tissue samples. Usually you will have to have your cat under anesthesia, which always carries a small risk of complications. The vet will test the tissue samples to determine if your cat has IBD.

There are several potential treatments if it does. Prednisone, which is a form of a steroid called cortisone, is often given to the cat because it reduces inflammation. In some cases vets will prescribe antibiotics of some kind instead in an effort to kill off the infections. Sometimes IBD in cats is caused by dietary issues or food allergies, and your vet may recommend switching your cat to a hypoallergenic cat food for some time to see if that causes an improvement. Finally, your vet may recommend grooming your cat more often. Hair is an irritant to the digestive system and can make IBD worse or even mimic its symptoms if your cat is swallowing a lot of it.

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