Feline Irritable Bowel

"Feline irritable bowel is a term used to describe several digestive disorders. Often veterinarians are not able to diagnose the underlying cause and will try a series of treatments until the IBD is cured. Food allergy or intolerance accounts for 50% of cases requiring that you make a change in your cat's diet. Supplements can also help to restore digestive tract balance such as plantain, probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids.."

The term inflammatory bowel disease (also known as idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease and IBD) is not one disease, but stands for a group of conditions that impact your cat's digestive system. IBD is usually seen in cats 7 years of age or older.

Causes of Feline Irritable Bowel

There are many causes of digestive problems in cats. It is sometimes difficult to identify the exact cause although your veterinarian will look for the following:

What causes the condition in one cat will probably be different then the cause in another.

Symptoms of Cat Irritable Bowel Disease

Symptoms of irritable bowel look like many other conditions. They are as follows:

Treatment of Cat Irritable Bowel Disease

Treatment begins with the identification of what is causing the condition in your cat. It usually starts with some type of change in diet to identify if lactose (milk), protein or some type of carbohydrate is the cause. Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet such as Hill's Prescription Diet d/d or a switch to a simple homemade diet such as cooked rice with chicken or hamburger. Diet is the cause of cat irritable bowel in up to 50% of cats.

Note that not all commercial diets are the same so some experimentation is needed. A diet needs to be tried as little as 2 weeks and it is common to try a diet for 4 to 6 weeks.

Dietary Supplement and Cat Irritable Bowel

There is some evidence that retaining digestible fats in your cat's diet will help with IDB. Specifically, omega 3 fatty acids may be of help. There are also several natural herbs and elements such as sulphur, Podophyllum, Alchemilla vulgaris and Plantago major (plantain) which could help to maintain or restore balance in the digestive system. One product which combines these ingredients and that is worth researching is RuniPoo Relief.

Like is the trend in human health, clinical studies on people show a positive impact from probiotics and prebiotics. Humans are now buying yogurt that contain these "living organisms" that positively impact the bacteria in the digestive tracts. In cats you can try a product such as Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics which provides a probiotic made specifically for pets. More testing is still needed on prebiotics to determine their impact.

Prescription Medicine and Feline Irritable Bowel

If dietary change doesn't help, then prescription drugs which reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system may be tried such as glucocorticoids. Also, since protozoa such as giardia cause symptoms that are simi liar to irritable bowel, your veterinarian may prescribe metronidazole
or fenbendazole. Treatment lasts for approximately a week.


Update on the Medical Management of Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Alex J. German, BVSc, PhD, CertSAM, MRCVS
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health


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