A little vomiting or diarrhea here and there seems to be pretty standard for cats. After all, cats groom themselves and get hairballs. Still, many owners notice that their pets seem to have vomiting or diarrhea a bit more often than it seems they should. Typically, the animal doesn't seem obviously sick. Maybe there has been weight loss over time but nothing severe. There is simply a chronic problem with vomiting, diarrhea or both.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is probably the most common cause of chronic intestinal issues. Unfortunately, the causes of IBD are not well understood and typically a cause is not found. The basic theory is that "something" is leading to a chronic stimulus of inflammation. This could be an allergy against a food protein or the continuing presence of a parasite.
Most cats with IBD require medication in addition to a change in diet. Though in some cases a change in diet alone will help resolve IBD.
Since Feline IBD reflects the cats' inability to tolerate certain foods, dietary changes play a large part in controlling of the disease. Easily digestible, single protein diets are usually recommended for cats with IBD because nutrients from these diets are more easily absorbed and the amount of diarrhea will be minimized.
Fiber supplementation is recommended for IBD that affects the colon. Dietary fiber, such as pureed pumpkin, improves stool consistency and produces fatty acids that nourish the colon and discourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
Corticosteroids (aka steroids, cortisone, prednisolone) are the mainstay of therapy for IBD. Corticosteroids inhibit and reduce the inflammation within the intestine. Steroids are notorious for causing side effects in people and dogs, however cats are much more tolerant of steroids and less likely to develop severe side effects. Regardless, the goal of therapy is to gradually adjust the dose to the lowest possible amount that controls symptoms. Over time, many cats can be weaned off steroids completely and be maintained on diet alone.
There are several other anti-inflammatory medications available. Metronidazole is an antibiotic that helps restore the normal balance of intestinal bacteria and also has anti-inflammatory properties. The beneficial effects of metronidazole can sometimes reduce the dosage of steroids that are needed.
IBD is very manageable though there may be some trial and error till the right combination of treatments is found.
For additional information about IBD:
The contents of this page are provided for general informational purposes only. Under no circumstances should this page be substituted for professional consultation with a veterinarian.