Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common disorder in cats characterized by inflammation and thickening of the intestinal lining, together with classic signs of gastrointestinal distress.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats
Inflammatory bowel disease causes chronic, cyclic or intermittent gastrointestinal upset and abdominal pain. The symptoms may be mild at first but typically worsen with time. IBD is most common in middle-aged and older cats, although younger cats can be affected as well. Some reports suggest that Siamese cats - and purebred cats, in general - are predisposed.
The most consistent clinical sign in cats suffering from IBD is anorexia, followed by weight loss, vomiting and watery diarrhea, in that order. Affected cats are thin and appear sickly, with poor body condition and a dull hair coat. The vomitus from cats with IBD is usually frothy and flecked with bile; it rarely includes solid food. The diarrhea from affected cats often includes mucous and/or fresh blood, especially as the disease progresses. Some cats will eliminate inappropriately, outside of their litter box. Some cats will experience borborygmus (a rumbling noise caused by gas moving through the intestines) and flatulence, as well. These clinical signs commonly wax and wane over time.
Inflammatory bowel disease can be extremely painful. However, cats can be quite stoic, and the signs of pain are not always easy for owners to detect. Some cats will appear depressed or lethargic. They may resist being held or touched, or they may hide. Sometimes, they will have difficulty walking or even standing up.