Chronic colonic inflammation (IBD) in cats: what is it?

IBD in cats stands for "Inflammatory Bowel Disease" and can be translated as "chronic bowel inflammation". It is not a single disease, but is a collective term for various inflammatory diseases in the intestinal area that persist permanently. IBD is not curable, but it can be treated well. Everything you need to know about the disease can be found here.

The chronic intestinal inflammation is not only in cats, but also in dogs or in humans - there are known especially the forms Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Little is known about the causes. In humans, physicians assume that a genetic predisposition and an autoimmune reaction of the intestine come together and the disease breaks out by a trigger such as certain foods or bacteria.

What is IBD in cats?

IBD in cats has not been explored as much as in humans. However, since the chronic intestinal inflammation in animals expressed similarly, there is also a mixture of predisposition, autoimmune reaction and trigger as the cause suspected. There are also different forms of IBD in cats. For example, especially the colon can be affected - as in ulcerative colitis. It is also possible that the small intestine is essentially chronically inflamed, as is usually the case with Crohn's disease.

Due to the chronic inflammation, the intestinal wall of the affected section thickens in the digestive tract. This gradually leads to a narrowing of the intestines and impairment of the intestinal motility. Diseased cats can no longer properly digest their food and suffer from painful abdominal cramps.

Recognize chronic enteritis in cats: symptoms of IBD

The symptoms that indicate IBD in cats depend on whether the chronic inflammation is in the colon or small intestine. If the small intestine is affected by IBD, this is usually expressed by the following signs:


● Blood in the stool (recognizable by black feces)

● weight loss

If the large intestine is chronically inflamed, this can be recognized, for example, from these symptoms:

● Frequent toilets with low drop-off

Increased urge to shed feces (Tenesmus)

● Mucus and traces of blood in the stool

● Hardly any weight loss

Often, vomiting is also common in IBD. Your cat sometimes suffers from a bloated stomach. The symptoms of chronic intestinal inflammation are not constantly the same, but occur in batches. As a result of the digestive problems, the food can no longer be properly processed, so that deficiency symptoms are the result. This includes:

● tiredness

● fatigue

● depression

● Matt or shaggy coat

How does the vet diagnose IBD?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of IBD are not clearly due to this disease. The indigestion and deficiency symptoms may also indicate other diseases. In addition, since the causes have not been clarified beyond doubt, the veterinarian only has the possibility of exclusion diagnosis to detect chronic bowel inflammation. Using excrement and blood tests, functional tests of certain organs and ultrasound, he tries to exclude the following diseases:

● parasites, for example worms

● Bacteria, for example Salmonella

● kidney problems

● liver problems

● Hyperthyroidism (hyperthyroidism)

● Feline Leukose (FeLV)

● Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

● Feline immunodeficiency (FIV)

● Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI - chronic pancreatic insufficiency)

● Tumors in the digestive tract

With an exclusion diet, the veterinarian also tests if your cat may be suffering from food intolerance or food allergy. However, an IBD can also be improved by an exclusion diet. Therefore, an ultrasound of the abdominal cavity and a colonoscopy (endoscopy) is important to either confirm or disprove chronic enteritis. By taking a tissue sample (biopsy) during colonoscopy and examining it, the veterinarian can see if there is chronic inflammation. The ultrasound is also important to detect tumors in the digestive tract or exclude.

Treat IBD by changing the food

The treatment of IBD in cats aims to relieve the symptoms permanently. There is currently no cure. First, the vet tries to calm the digestive tract by a rigorous change in diet, to remedy deficiency symptoms and to maintain a healthy weight. As with the treatment of feed intolerance, IBD is an exclusion diet.

Your cat must then only eat food with meat that she has never received before - for example, rabbit, duck, veal or exotic meats such as reindeer, moose, gnu or kangaroo. Cats with IBD of the colon also benefit from a higher crude fiber content in the feed. This can help to stimulate the intestinal motility and to improve the Kotkonsistenz so that your pet can excrete the feces easily.

In severe cases of severe diarrhea and frequent vomiting, your cat may be dehydrated. Then, an infusion for fluid compensation may be necessary.

Anti-inflammatory drugs against IBD in cats

As a supplement, the vet prescribes your cat anti-inflammatory drugs, for example, with the drug prednisolone. It relieves inflammation and suppresses the autoimmune reaction in the intestine. Unfortunately, prednisolone has some side effects, such as increased susceptibility to infections or diabetes mellitus. Therefore, your veterinarian will reduce the initially high dose over time and increase the intervals between drug additions. This process is called "let out" and should ensure that the anti-inflammatory effect outweighs and the side effects are as mild as possible.

Under certain circumstances, the treatment with food conversion and anti-inflammatory drugs is not enough. In this case, it may be useful to additionally administer antibiotics or stronger immunosuppressants (agents that inhibit the immune system). But you should definitely discuss this with your veterinarian. If the health of your cat has stabilized successfully through the treatment, this is already the first step to recovery. Afterwards, it is important that you visit the veterinarian regularly with your cat and stay aware of whether there are new attacks of disease.

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