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           Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome {IBS} is a very common problem in middle age and older cats. It is also a very difficult disease to diagnose because the signs can be quite variable and are often subtle. The only consistent sign we see in most cats is weight loss. There may be changes in the appetite ranging from increased consumption to very poor appetite. We can see increased vomiting and intermittent changes in stool texture and/or color. We are especially concerned about cats who are eating normal to increased amounts and who are losing weight and condition. We are probably going to want to do blood and fecal tests to rule out the most common other problems with a similar presentation- hyperthyroidism and pancreatic insufficiency [both very treatable.]

           If our blood and fecal analysis exclude these problems- we may need to take abdominal radiographs and perform an ultrasound to check for the thickened intestines or signs of infiltrative disease. The only way to conclusively diagnose IBS is with an intestinal biopsy either via exploratory surgery or by means of a pencil-thin fiber endoscope which is inserted, under anesthesia, into the cat’s stomach and upper small intestine for viewing and nipping multiple, small tissue samples for pathological analysis. Exploratory surgery is usually more expensive and carries more risk than the Endoscopic Procedure.

           Sometimes Endoscopy or surgery is precluded by the cat’s condition or by economic restraints. In this case, we treat IBS on supposition using circumstantial evidence and then assess the cat’s response to the medications.

           IBS is actually a complex of related diseases, which cause white blood cells to invade and irritate the bowel wall and interfere with digestion. These diseases run the gamut from mild to moderate through refractive. The prognosis depends upon the specific Pathological diagnosis. Occasionally, we find lymphatic cancer of the bowel too. Even with pathological diagnosis the prognosis is difficult- most of our IBS patients do well on continuing medication, but occasionally we find cases which are very difficult or impossible to treat.


The Cat Practice is located at 145 W 24th Street on the 3rd floor. Phone: 212-677-1401 Fax: 212-677-2088