You might assume that cat digestive problems are quite common and nothing to worry about. You might even think that an indoor cat is supposed to vomit once or twice a week to cleanse itself out.
But that’s absolutely false. If untreated, cat GI problems can exacerbate and lead to something worse. Let’s read on to see what are some common cat digestive problems and how to resolve them.
Constipation is when your cat has difficulty passing feces and it’s quite infrequent. The stool might be dry and hard. This is a common problem found in cats, especially indoor ones.
Cat constipation is easily fixed. Make sure to do the following:
- Provide easy access to water and encourage water drinking
- Switch to a high-fiber diet
- Avoid feeding your cat bones and other similar objects
- Provide more litter boxes and clean them more frequently
- Use laxatives provided by your veterinarian (not laxatives meant for humans)
If your cat doesn’t respond to the changes above or is suffering from chronic constipation, then a veterinarian might suggest the removal of the affected section of the large intestine to remove blockages.
Check out these remedies and solutions for cat constipation.
- Parasites and Worms
You might believe that your indoor cat wouldn’t be vulnerable to parasites or worms, but that’s untrue. Parasites and worms affect indoor cats as well.
The most common ones are hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. You can tell that your cat might have parasites or worms if he/she is vomiting, has diarrhea, has a potbelly, has worms in the feces, and has lost weight.
Remember that intestinal worms in a cat can be contagious to humans, so you need to eliminate them right away. One way to test for worms or parasites in your cat’s belly is by getting his/her feces tested twice a year.
A veterinarian will be able to do tests on the feces to tell you whether your cat is infested or not. And then they can provide medication that will help eliminate all parasites and worms.
Deworming instructions must be followed to a T, so your cat can be freed of all digestive issues.
You probably had no idea that IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, didn’t only affect humans. Digestive issues in cats could indicate that they have IBD.
It is more common in purebred cats, but all ages, sexes, and breeds can be affected by it. The problem with IBD in cats is that it’s hard to detect.
You would have to take your cat to the veterinarian so they could test blood, urine, and feces to rule out other complications and to detect low protein or electrolytes in your cat’s system.
Your veterinarian might also recommend feeding your cat a special diet if diagnosed with IBD. This would be a hypo-allergenic and elimination diet, that has to be administered exactly as prescribed without any changes.
Not even treats are allowed on this 4-6 week diet.
It’s extremely important to diagnose IBD (even though it mimics other cat GI problems) and to reduce or remove chronic inflammation right away.
This is because chronic inflammation, if untreated, can develop into GI lymphoma, which could be cancerous.
- Food Allergies
If your cat has gastrointestinal problems (like vomiting, or diarrhea), AND skin issues (like red, itchy skin, or hair loss), then it’s likely your cat has food allergies.
Even though this isn’t as common as the other cat digestive issues, it is still possible. As with IBD, your veterinarian will prescribe a hypoallergenic diet for 10-12 weeks if your cat is diagnosed with food allergies.
Follow your vet’s directions as religiously as possible, not allowing any deviations from it. If it is a food allergy, your cat will start feeling better in 2 weeks on this diet, and the allergy should resolve completely in 10 weeks.
The most common food allergies in cats include beef, dairy, and fish.
Just because hairballs are common among indoor cats, that doesn’t mean that your cat should learn to grin and bear it. Hairballs are absolutely preventable with the proper diet.
You probably didn’t know that hairballs actually indicate two things – your cat is shedding excessively or your cat has a digestive problem. If your cat is passing hairballs more than once a week, then that’s something to look into.
Here are some ways to reduce hairballs in your cat:
- Change your cat’s diet to a high-fiber one
- Get your cat groomed regularly (ask for a lion cut)
- Control your cat’s calories (to shed excess weight)
If these techniques don’t work, then speak to your veterinarian for more drastic measures.
Inflammation of the large intestine is also called colitis. You will know that your cat has colitis if it struggles to defecate, has mucus-laden feces, with traces of bright red blood in it. Weight loss and vomiting would be common as well.
The causes of colitis in cats are unknown and could be related to many things like allergies, bacteria, parasites, trauma, or kidney issues.
Your veterinarian might ask you to withhold food from your cat for 24-48 hours to rest your cat’s digestive system. This will reduce inflammation. Once that is done, you will feed your cat a very special high-fiber diet.
The veterinarian could also add anti-inflammatory medication or antibiotics to the mix to reduce colitis further.
Even though your cat will get better with treatment, long-term colitis does tend to recur. That’s why you must always stay on the lookout for repeat symptoms.
Cat Digestive Problems 101
You are now aware of the most common cat digestive problems that ail indoor cats. You don’t like to see your precious furbaby suffering, and you would do anything to protect that cute little one.
That’s why you need to stay on top of the symptoms and digestive issues in cats so you can fix it before it gets worse. Remember prevention is better than cure.
Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to check out the other pet-related articles on our website to keep learning.