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IBD in cats: What's the winning diet?

IBD in cats, or Feline inflammatory bowel syndrome, is a chronic inflammatory condition of unknown cause that can affect any section of the gastrointestinal tract.
In the following paragraphs, we will explain what it is, the symptoms, how to diagnose it and what could be the proper diet to treat the disorder.

What is IBD in cats?

In cats, IBD is a very serious chronic intestinal problem.
The acronym stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease and “simply” points to the inflammation of the bowel.
In the presence of this disease, the cat’s intestinal mucosa is invaded by inflammatory cell populations which, depending on their type, enable the various forms of the disease (also mixed forms) to be classified.
For example, there are lymphoplasmacitic, eosinophillic, granulomatous and neutrophillic forms of IBD.
As we mentioned earlier, the causes of this disorder are unknown and symptoms differ from case to case.

Symptoms of IBD in cats

Keeping in mind that each specific case is different and that the clinical symptoms vary a lot in form of manifestation and degree of severity, let's look at the most common symptoms:
  • intermittent chronic vomiting
  • abdominal pain, colic
  • flatulence
  • diarrhoea [Link EN_diarrea nel gatto] (though in some case not associated with weight loss)
  • sluggish behaviour, lethargy
  • melena (blood in the stools)
  • ascites (fluid build-up in the abdomen);
  • peripheral oedema
  • decreased appetite or ravenous appetite
  • poor coat quality

Causes of IBD in cats

Unfortunately, chronic gastrointestinal conditions in cats are becoming more and more common and a very high number of these, along with autoimmune diseases, are labelled as “idiopathic diseases”, in other words, of unknown cause. IBD is one of them.
The condition may be so severe that pharmacological treatment is required, especially in the acute stages. This must always be prescribed by your vet.
However, there is a fundamental principle you should be aware of. While drugs can help block the body's defence response, which in chronic situations can lead to complications like sialorrhoea, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever, they don’t solve the root cause.
Numerous studies have recently demonstrated that chronic inflammation of the stomach and intestinal walls can be traced to irritants present in the diet or to normal food substances to which the immune system of our little feline buddies has an abnormal and excessive reaction.
That means that chemical and pharmacological contamination of food sources may be playing a major role in the cause of IBD in cats.
Keep in mind that the gastrointestinal system, along with its mucosa and microbiota (an “army” made up of billions of germs), is the organ responsible for identifying whether the food it comes into contact with contains harmful, toxic, or even life-threatening substances.
In the presence of the latter, it reacts through expulsion mechanisms (like vomiting or diarrhoea), inflammatory processes, or through damage to organs and their function.
The immune system, the body's “headquarters”, is also among these. It is constantly under attack by viruses, parasites and bacteria as well as by chemical and pharmacological substances that deeply alter its functions, resulting in altered responses.

Diagnosing IBD in cats

Diagnosing IBD in cats can be very complex and takes trial and error. That's because other important disorders with a similar symptom profile need to be ruled out.
Before jumping to conclusions, it's very important to seek the advice of your veterinarian.
In general, diagnosis involves an abdominal ultrasound to check the stomach and small intestine for increased wall thickness, which is the most significant symptom.
Other useful tests include blood work, stool and urine tests, X-rays and endoscopic examination.
The latter examinations are the most required when there is an increased thickness of the gastrointestinal mucosa because they help differentiate between IBD and intestinal lymphoma.

IBD in cats: Supporting the treatment with proper diet

If IBD has been diagnosed in your cat, the correct therapeutic approach should take into account a specific diet that can ensure reduced stimulation of the immune system (clean, alternative protein) and with the right amount and type of fibre.
Intestinal Colon for cats, in dry or wet form, is the diet designed by Dr. Graziano Pengo, a specialist in gastroenterology.
These foods are based on select sources of protein and carbohydrates (fish and rice) and are formulated to reduce intestinal absorption problems and compensate for poor digestion.
The ingredients are highly digestible and with a low fat concentration. This makes it a complete and balanced food with beneficial effects in cats suffering from IBD.
In addition, they are enriched with fibres obtained from the brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum.
This seaweed has a double effect: it protects the mucous membrane through gelation and it also releases fucoidans, i.e. polysaccharides with a natural anti-inflammatory effect, thus reducing inflammation of the intestinal wall. This fibre also helps to effectively restore the intestinal microbiota.
Through this diet, the body is restored to its natural balance, enabling it to function as nature meant.
Many studies have demonstrated that an Intestinal Colon diet is effective in supporting the regression of numerous disorders in a short time period.
We hope this article was helpful in increasing your knowledge about IBD in cats and that we were successful in showing you tackling the gastrointestinal conditions and disorders of our four-legged companions should always start with proper diet.