September 29, 2016

Your Cranky Cat May Have IBS: Get the Poop on IBS


by Annie Anderson

If your feline has been showing continuous signs of symptoms such as diarrhea, accompanied by occasional vomiting and/or bloating, chances are that he is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that is characterized by discomfort and inflammation of a cat’s bowels, but it is not linked to any sort of gastrointestinal disease. The intestines may become irritated and inflamed and abdominal pain may also be present. Once it happens, the gut wall is infiltrated with inflammatory cells, which leads to swelling. Here is what you need to know about this condition.

Causes of IBS
There is no known definitive cause for IBS in cats, but experts and vets have some theories as to what may bring it on. These include:
• Deficiency in dietary fiber
• Stress
• Dietary intolerances
• Abnormal colonic myoelectrical activity
• Changes in colonic function

Sudden diet changes to a cat that is used to certain types of food may create an upset. The same case applies to other pets and several human beings. This implies that new foods should be gradually introduced. The digestive system of adult cats is sensitive. This poses a challenge when it comes to digesting milk sugars. If certain quantities are exceeded, lactose intolerance may occur. When this happens these milk sugars ferment undigested in the gut, causing diarrhea (

This condition can be associated with liver inflammation as well as IBS. It can prove to be a very acute and serious condition. It causes severe vomiting or even rapid death in certain circumstances. If death does not occur, it can develop to a chronic form, causing diarrhea and low grade vomiting.

There are numerous infections, which can lead to chronic diarrhea. Bacteria like campylobacter and salmonella can lead to food poisoning in cats as well as human beings. The signs are the same in both species, although cats tend to be more affected. Single celled protozoa such as tritrichomonas foetus and giardia can cause long-term inflammation especially in the large bowels.


Drugs and toxins

These can also cause gastrointestinal problems, especially vomiting when ingested. Certain veterinary medicine may create these side effects. Therefore, it is always important to get back to your vet, when the cat develops adverse reaction after taking drugs. As previously indicated, cats have very sensitive bowels. They may react to certain drugs, which might be safe when ingested by other pets. This means that they should only be given those drugs that have been specifically developed for them.
Apart from drugs, potential toxins within the homestead should also be handled carefully, like houseplants. Such toxins can be accidentally ingested, especially when the cat is cleaning its coat. One good example is lily pollen that is particularly toxic to cats. It sticks to the fur if the pet brushes against the plant.


Felines tend to be very sensitive to stress. This includes aspects like boredom, especially when the cat has been locked indoors, with minimal activity. There is a known syndrome in cats, commonly known as interstitial cystitis. It causes inflammation of the bladder lining, because of elevated stress hormones. This disorder is also known to affect the intestinal tract. Apart from causing inflammation in the bladder lining, stress can also cause inflammation in the intestinal tract, leading to various complications.


Your vet is the only one who can make a positive diagnosis for IBS. You will need to give him or her a detailed history of your cat’s health record, a thorough explanation of all symptoms as well as recent activities. Your vet will give your cat a physical examination to rule out any other potential diseases, such as inflammatory colitis or whipworms.

Outpatient treatment is commonly given to cats with IBS. The main treatment option is to give your cat a diet that is easily digestible, with plenty of fiber. A diet change can make a huge difference in your cat’s IBS symptoms. Organic foods are best, but as long as the food has a high amount of soluble fiber, your cat should be able to digest it easily. Their main food source should be meat, as cats are primarily carnivores.

If you are away for much of the day, ensure you use an automatic cat feeder (, and make sure they have access to plenty of water throughout the day. You’ll also have to monitor your cat’s stools for a period of time to make sure that there is no presence of diarrhea, constipation or abdominal discomfort.

While you may not be able to completely prevent IBS from occurring, there are several things you can do to keep your cat as healthy as possible. First, make sure your cat isn’t in a stressful environment and is comfortable and relaxed. Things like a new baby, a new pet, or small children can cause an undue amount of stress for a cat. Second, feed your cat a diet that is rich in fiber, protein and healthy ingredients. Third, once you’ve found a reputable brand that your cat likes, don’t change it up for them, or they may end up with upset tummies.

Unlike humans, cats are quite happy to eat the same thing day in and day out. Make sure your cat gets regular checkups from your vet and monitor your cat’s health closely. If you notice any signs of pain, discomfort or symptoms of IBS, take your cat to the vet immediately. It is never a good idea to self-diagnose, so have your vet’s number and address handy for all health situations.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome prevents your cat from living a normal life. It might result to death in severe circumstances. The best defense is prevention, by giving your cat healthy foods, as well as regular medical checkups. However, once your cat has been diagnosed with this condition, it’s important to get them the prescribed treatment from your vet.



Annie is the founder of MeowKai (, where she and her associates write about cat behavior, health issues, and tips and tricks on how to get your cat to behave! It concentrates on creating the best life for you and your cat so you can enjoy each other’s company and build that trust that is so important between pet and human.

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