|This is the Living With IBD section, designed to help you look at living examples of this disease and other GI
conditions. Each cat has different dietary needs, medications, treatments, etc. As you will see, it's not an easy
road, some thrive and some have a much harder time. But the purpose of this section is to help you shed some
light as to what possibly could have started your kitty's IBD and maybe help you find some answers and support
so that your kitty can live a long, happy and healthier life from this day forward. If you are a veterinarian or are
currently working on research for feline IBD, please take some time to examine each case study. This section is
here to provide you with knowledge outside of your practice or research center and eventually give you some
statistics as to how prevalent this disease is and the complications from it really are. If you would like to include
your cat as a case study, please see instructions:
Feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause inflammation of the stomach lining or
intestinal tracts, causing changes in the normal bodily functions that these organs perform. It's an uncontrolled
inflammatory response, resulting in the influx of inflammatory cells into various parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
IBD is not curable and there is no definitive cause. But it can be successfully managed through diet change,
medications, therapeutic, and holistic treatments. The possible causes being researched are parasites that
cause the cat to produce antibodies which attacks it's own digestive tract, food allergies or intolerance, an
inappropriate immune response to the natural flora in the intestines, or the result of a certain bacteria. IBD is not
the same thing as IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is occasional GI and intestinal inflammation or distress,
whereas IBD is chronic and in some cases severe inflammation that spreads to other areas of the GI tract,
intestines and many other organs. This inflammation can cause such problems as malabsorption of nutrients,
poor digestion and scar-like fibrous tissue.
Symptoms can range from vomiting, bad breath (halitosis), diarrhea, constipation, increased thirst from
dehydration, gas, rumbling and gurgling in the stomach, abdominal pain, anorexia, moderate to severe weight
loss, litter box refusal, dark/tarry stools, lethargy and depression, weakness and fatigue, vitamin deficiencies and
anemia. I’ve found IBD to have a lot of similarities with celiac disease, an allergic response and intolerance to
gluten. That makes sense since out of the many triggers for IBD food issues seem to be at the top of the list for
both humans and pets. IBD never stays just IBD. Once inflammation sets into the body, whether you're a cat or a
human, it usually means complications of some kind either from the disease or medications that can cause side
effects. Unfortunately, sometimes there's no way around that and the only choice is to treat the IBD or risk the
disease progressing quickly, complicating recovery further. Most veterinarians don't tell you that and I'm sure it's
so as not to scare you. But in hindsight, I wish I had been forewarned.
Expect frequent food changes. A diet change is inevitable to find the source of what's damaging the already
irritated GI tract. Your vet will probably recommend a prescription diet, although they usually contain the very
ingredients that help aggravate the inflammation. But if that's all the cat will eat then it's very important to give it
to them. It's extremely dangerous to let your cat stop eating completely longer than 48 hours, that's all it takes for
other health problems to begin. Be sure to check the food page on this site as it lists grain free foods that are
better suited for these conditions.
The best thing to do is keep a good stock of at least three to four different kinds of foods around at all times. A
lot of people think at first, as did I, that when your cat eats something one day and then refuses it the next, that
it's just being finicky. If your cat weren’t sick with IBD I would say that's possibly true. But Feline IBD creates a lot
of nausea and what I usually tell people is this: When you're sick with the flu or a cold and you vomit something
you just ate, do you want to eat that very thing soon after? No, you can't stand the site, smell or taste of it. It's the
same thing with your cat. Just move on to another one of the foods for a couple of days to a week and then
maybe after your cat has had a chance to forget the experience, go back to the other food again. Nausea is a
very big problem in IBD cats and one that affects their ability to stabilize the disease. Your cat may need to be on
an anti-nausea medication in order to eat without vomiting.
There can be considerable costs between the testing, diagnostics, food, treatments, medications and sometimes
hospitalizations. But without some or all of these interventions your cat cannot start to improve until it may be too
late to stop the progression of the disease. Your cat is a valued family member and these treatments would be
expensive even for a human. There are some of us who have literally gone without food ourselves just so our
cats could get the medical attention they need.
Here's why it's so complicated. Your GI tract acts as a second brain with a rich network of nerves and ganglia,
communicating directly with the brain and the heart. Your digestive system also affects your moods through the
hundreds of chemicals and hormones it produces, which is why some cats suffer depression with this disease.
There are literally trillions of microbes inside of all of us, human and animal. Altering these healthy bacteria that
inhabit the GI tract can affect conditions ranging from IBD to asthma and allergies. Hence, the food allergies and
other complications reacting to disturbances in the GI tract.
Tests usually consist of a blood panel, a biochemical profile, a complete T4 to check for hyperthyroidism, a
urinalysis and fecal exam. X-Rays and an ultrasound don't help diagnose IBD but are useful to rule out other
medical conditions such as cancer. The only definitive way to diagnose IBD is through a biopsy of the intestinal
tract where increased number of cells called lymphocytes, eosinophils, and neutrophils are seen in the intestinal
wall. The types of cells present will provide a complete diagnosis of which type of IBD the cat has. It should be
noted that a biopsy doesn’t always provide a definitive answer, as IBD is an ever-changing condition. It should
first be discussed with your vet as to whether your pet’s condition warrants an immediate biopsy or if there could
be complications from the operation. Sometimes there are underlying conditions that can affect your pet’s ability
to undergo surgery.
The best and most proactive thing you could ever do is take your cat to the vet and insist on running some of
these tests if your cat is vomiting often. That's usually an indicator that something isn't right. If the vomit consists
of white foam or bile with mucus, call your vet immediately and tell them you're concerned. Bile should not be
regurgitated on a normal basis and should always be checked. Also have your cat checked when there is any
type of hard or dark, tarry stool that may sometimes contain blood, or if there’s urine containing blood.
Unfortunately as stated earlier there can be a lot of complications with IBD if not checked and treated in a timely
manner. Some of these include hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, chronic renal
failure or cancer. This doesn't mean your cat will automatically get these complications, these are just things to
keep in mind when putting off that initial trip to the vet. Catching the disease in it’s earliest stages, before it can
cause too much damage, is the goal for good treatments. Once you have a diagnosis from the vet it's important
to keep on top of the disease with constant monitoring. Keeping a diary at home of your cat's day to day
progress or decline helps you when speaking to the vet or going for a follow-up visit. Also, making a chart to
keep on the refrigerator of medications and times to give them is key to reducing the stress that becoming a
caregiver will have on you and your family.
Always ask your vet for a copy of all of your cat's records. That way if you do any research at home and want to
know what something means, you'll have your cat's exam results in hand. It'll help you to know where you stand
with his/her treatment and progress. So each time you bring your cat in for a checkup or more blood work, ask
them for a copy of what was done and the results when you go to pay your bill. Try to find a vet that you can
have a good relationship with. That's a tall order as one of the biggest complaints I hear from people is the
appalling treatment their pets are getting from their vets. It's very unfortunate because we as humans can always
look for another doctor, there are plenty around to choose from. But a good vet is very hard to find and animals
can't make those decisions for themselves.
Look for a vet that's open to knowledge and understands that experience from other pet owners is invaluable to
treating these conditions, as there are no set protocols to use with cats. We have a good handle on IBD and
similar diseases with people but there is currently not enough research on cats with this disease. Most research
concentrates on cats and dogs together and answers probably won’t be found that way since a cat’s body is so
different from a dog’s. If you have a cats-only veterinarian in your area, it’s best to take your cat there. Their
main focus in vet medicine is on cats and the diseases that affect them differently than other animals. In a dog,
the bile duct and the pancreatic duct empty at separate locations in the GI tract. In the cat, they join and empty at
the same place, making it more likely for inflammation to affect the various organs. An internist may also offer
better treatment options if there's one available in your area.
Just remember in any case, to be as proactive as you can and learn as much about Feline IBD as possible. It
could help to save your cat’s life. For more information please go to: http://www.ibdkitties.net/IBDguidelines.html
And to my guest blog: http://onlynaturalpetblog.com/2010/09/10/988/
These sites are for human IBD but are extremely informative and educational:
These links are for Feline IBD:
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|Living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
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