Does your cat seem to have an overly sensitive stomach? Does he or she seem to vomit more often than the occasional hairball? It’s possible that your cat suffers from Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD. The only way to know for sure is to consult your veterinarian, but there are some things that you can do to alleviate symptoms and potentially avoid medications, which sometimes have serious side effects. If your vet rules out other causes such as parasites, bacterial infection, FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), FeLV (feline leukemia virus), or thyroid disease, you may want to look to your cat’s food dish for clues.
Your cat’s diet is the first place you want to look when you are trying to spot trouble and attempting to figure out if your cat may have IBD. The vast majority of commercially promoted cat foods on the market today aren’t really the best diet for your cat to be consuming believe it or not. Many of them contribute to or complicate issues for cats with IBD. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they should be eating meat. If you take a look at the ingredient list on a can or bag of your cat’s food, what do you find there? Are you finding a lot of wheat, corn, or vegetable derivatives? Your cat’s body isn’t really designed for processing large amounts of those things and it’s best if you try to cut down or even eliminate many of them. If your cat is having problems, you may want to invest in some grain-free foods to see how your cat responds. There are many grain-free cat foods available today, but you may need to visit a store that specializes in animal food and care products in order to find them.
Some people have had success by transitioning their cat to a raw diet. There are commercially available raw diets these days and you will want to discuss this with your vet and someone knowledgeable about this subject. As my vet once said, “You don’t find cat kibbles out there in nature, it doesn’t exist. Cats would be eating meat with high moisture content if left to do what comes naturally to them.” In other words, the only grain that your cat would be consuming would be the stomach contents of an animal that it is eating such as a mouse, rabbit, or bird. Cats would not naturally have a high carbohydrate diet, but that is exactly what you find when you wander down the pet food aisle at your grocery store. It may not be such a coincidence that the number of cats suffering from IBD is on the rise.
Some cats respond to a combination of changes, such as the addition of flax oil and probiotics in conjunction with a grain-free diet. You may have to try a number of different things before you find what works best for your cat. You should keep track of any changes you make and watch to see how your cat responds. Did your cat used to vomit several times per week and it’s only happening every two weeks since you went grain-free? It’s difficult to know exactly what is helping if you make a ton of changes all at once. It’s also not good to radically change your cat’s diet overnight. Changes should be made gradually so that you don’t create more discomfort in an effort to improve things. Your vet can recommend how gradual of a change your cat might need, but it’s usually safe to do it over the course of a few days. Gradually introduce the new food and slowly decrease the amount of the old food until you are only feeding your cat the new diet. It’s also important to note that once a dietary change has been achieved and you are evaluating it, it’s important to eliminate all other sources of food in order to determine if the change has been helpful or not. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work can be tricky with cats that suffer from IBD.
While some cats respond favorably to dietary changes alone, this will not be enough for every cat. Some cats eventually need to go on medication for IBD and sometimes that is the best solution. No one wants to see his or her cat suffering, and if medication is the only way to prevent that, it’s certainly a good choice. Sometimes combinations of dietary changes as well as the addition of medications are what are needed. Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat cats with IBD and many cats tolerate them very well. If you take some time to educate yourself about cats and their dietary needs and talk to your vet, there is a very good chance that your cat will live a long and healthy life in spite of being diagnosed with IBD. Quality of life is important and you have to remember that cats are stoic, so your cat may be suffering and in pain if you notice vomiting and/or diarrhea. Both you and your cat’s life will be improved if you figure out what works best for your kitty.
Source – http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/ibd.html