Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is seen as chronic bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea in your cat. This can cause chronic weight loss and dehydration and untreated can be life threatening. It is seen most commonly in middle age and older cats. IBD describes a group of chronic gastrointestinal disorders. The cause of IBD is unknown, but the microscopic changes in the tissues imply that immunologic and or allergic factors play an important role. the most common form of IBD in cats is called lymphocytic-plasmacytic enterocolitis. We also see eosinophilic, neutrophilic, and granulomatous enterocolitis. These are antibody producing cells and inflammatory cells. Enterocolitis means the inflammation of the small and large intestine.

We will do various blood tests, stool examination, ultrasound and x-rays if necessary. However, the only way to really diagnose this disease is to take a biopsy of the intestine and send it to a histopathologist.  We will need to do a surgical procedure to do this test.

A combination of dietary management and medical therapy will successfully manage IBD in most cats. Because there is no single best treatment, we may need to try several different combinations in order to determine the best therapy for your cat. We may also have to use special drugs that will suppress your cats immune system.

Dietary Management:
It is quite difficult to find a diet that is best suited to your cats condition. We may try a special prescription diet first. It sometimes takes quite a few weeks before we know if it is working or not. Sometimes a home cooked meal can work. We will start with a source of protein that your cat has never tried before like kangaroo, ostrich or lamb.

Medical Therapy:
Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat cats with IBD. This is usually given orally and cats tolerate these drugs very well. There is also a long acting injectable form for owners who struggle with dosing tabs. A course of antibiotics is usually also prescribed and is very helpful.
If none of these medications successfully control the signs, more potent immunosuppressive drugs may be necessary, but they necessitate closer monitoring by one of our vets.

It is rarely possible to cure inflammatory bowel disease, but most cases can be satisfactorily controlled by medication and dietary management. Relapses can occur if the treatment regimen is not followed completely.