Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Cats

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a group of gastrointestinal diseases for which no single cause is known. IBD results in the inflammation of the intestines. In affected animals, chronic symptoms are seen to be related to the gastrointestinal system. Siamese cats have been found to be predisposed to IBD.

Symptoms and Types

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Chronic intermittent vomiting
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rumbling and gurgling abdominal sounds
  • Bright red blood in stool
  • Distressed coat hair


Though no single cause is known, more than one cause is suspected. Hypersensitivity to bacteria and/or food allergies are suspected to play a major role in this disease. Food allergens suspected to play a role in this disease include meat proteins, food additives, artificial coloring, preservatives, milk proteins, and gluten (wheat). Genetic factors are also suspected to play a role in IBD.


Your veterinarian will take a detailed history and ask you questions regarding to the duration and frequency of symptoms. A complete physical examination will be conducted and after the examination your veterinarian will conduct routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of these routine laboratory tests are often normal. In some patients, anemia and abnormally high number of white blood cells (as in infections) may be present. In cats with IBD, abnormally levels of proteins and liver enzymes may also be found. Fecal examination, meanwhile, is performed to verify the presence of parasitic infection(s).

Your veterinarian may conduct tests to determine cobalamin and folate levels in blood to evaluate small intestine functions. Routine X-rays are usually normal in these patients. Your veterinarian may conduct Barium Contrast Studies for a more detailed evaluation. Barium enhances the visibility of organs. It is usually given orally, followed by a series of X-rays as barium moves downward in gastrointestinal tract. Intestine wall abnormalities, like increased thickness, may be visible through barium contrast studies. Similarly, ultrasound can be of help in determining the changes in the intestine wall. More specific testing to rule if any food allergen may be the cause of this condition is conducted. Taking a small tissue sample from the cat’s intestine by surgical means can confirm the diagnosis, too.


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine


A medical condition in which the body has lost fluid or water in excessive amounts


A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.


Any substance with the potential to produce an allergic reaction in an animal prone to such a reaction.

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