Digestive Disorders in Cats – What You Need to Know!
12 October, 2016
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Digestive disorders in cats are pretty common and most will clear up within a few days. But some cats will need to have long term care because they have regular or permanent digestive problems. GI disorders can lead to dehydration and malnutrition so it is important to recognize the signs and consult with your veterinarian.

What are the types and causes of digestive disorders?

There are many different types of digestive disorders. The causes of digestive disorders range from eating something other than cat food, to food intolerance or sensitivities, infections, or lack of digestive enzymes.  Your veterinarian may carry out tests to determine the exact cause of your cat’s GI problem.

If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, including eating and litter box habits, be sure to monitor them closely and take them to a veterinarian. Even if your cat is not acting sick, persistent signs of vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea should be taken seriously.

Below is a list of the most common digestive problems in cats:

Diarrhea: Caused by infections, internal parasites, stress, a change in cat food, table scraps or rich snacks, eating spoiled food from the garbage and dysfunction.

Constipation: Usually caused by dehydration, insufficient fiber intake, ingesting hair or other foreign objects, aging, tumors, trauma or fractures, spinal cord disease, large bowel nervous disorders, metabolic or endocrine disorders and debilitation, and lack of exercise.

Acute gastroenteritis: An inflamed digestive tract, usually short-term. Causes may include eating rancid or spoiled food, swallowing foreign objects, eating toxic plants, internal parasites, stress, food allergies and some disease conditions.

Colitis: More common in cats under the age of 5, colitis causes inflammation of the large intestine that results in frequent, painful passing of feces. If your cat is experiencing colitis, there might be mucus and blood.  Colitis is usually caused by tumors or polyps, a change in food, allergies (including those to food), swallowed foreign objects and certain other diseases.

Diarrhea: Caused by infections, internal parasites, stress, a change in cat food, table scraps or rich snacks, eating spoiled food from the garbage and body organ dysfunction.

Constipation: Usually caused by dehydration, insufficient fiber intake, ingesting hair or other foreign objects, aging, tumors, trauma or fractures, spinal cord disease, large bowel nervous disorders, metabolic or endocrine disorders and debilitation, and lack of exercise.

Pancreatitis: An inflammation or infection of the pancreas (an elongated, tapered gland that is located behind the stomach). Origins are frequently unknown. Potential causes are decreased blood flow (due to dehydration, or other disease processes) infections, disease or trauma.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Commonly associated with chronic inflammation and discomfort of a cat’s bowels, but is typically not directly linked to gastrointestinal disease. Some suspected causes include food intolerances and the ability of the cat food to effectively pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Mental distress can also be a contributing factor for this condition.

How can you tell if your cat has a digestive disorder?

The most common signs of digestive disorders in cats are soft stools or diarrhea. You may also notice some or all of the following signs in your cat:  vomiting, regurgitation, gas, weakness, diarrhea or constipation

Chronic GI disease can be a debilitating problem for many cats and requires testing and a thorough diagnosis from your veterinarian.  Remember that if your cat has diarrhea or is vomiting, she may become severely dehydrated. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.

A high fiber diet and plenty of water is can have a great impact on your cat’s digestive health

Your cat’s food can have a significant impact on her GI tract health. A number of different nutritional approaches could be recommended for your cat depending on the specific diagnosis and the symptoms.

The main goal is to alleviate your cat’s signs/symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea.  It is usually recommended to feed cats a food that is highly digestible to help prevent irritation to her sensitive stomach and intestines. High fiber foods combined with moderate fat levels help support proper intestinal function. It is also important to monitor your cat’s hydration during the recovery phase to help ensure she has enough water and correct any fluid deficiencies.

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