Poor kitty. Something's obviously wrong with his digestive tract. Because all sorts of problems can cause gastrointestinal misery, your vet might need to conduct quite a few tests before determining that Fluffy suffers from eosinophilic enteritis, which means inflammation. The next step is to diagnose the cause to determine treatment.
White blood cells known as eosinophils line your cat's intestines and stomach. If they become inflamed, eosinophilic enteritis results. Less frequently, this inflammation in felines also involves the liver, heart, kidneys, adrenal glands or spleen.
Your vet must do some detective work to track down the cause. Often, it's inflammatory bowel disease. Other possibilities include parasites, food or other allergies, an adverse drug reaction, or leukemia. If it's idiopathic eosinophilic enteritis, the actual cause remains unknown after testing.
Symptoms of eosinophilic enteritis mimic those of other gastrointestinal ailments. Your cat might stop eating, lose weight or constantly vomit. Diarrhea is also a symptom, but loose bowel movements offer a clue. Cats with eosinophilic enteritis often produce dark or bloody feces.
If general tests, such as a complete blood count and fecal analysis, don't reveal the cause of your cat's eosinophilic enteritis, your vet must perform further diagnostics. This might include an ultrasound or X-ray. But to reach a definitive diagnosis, your vet must conduct a stomach mucous biopsy on Fluffy.
She can do this either by using a tubelike endoscope to collect a sample or via surgery. Either test requires anesthesia, although surgery is much more involved. The biopsy should reveal what's wrong with Fluffy, or else rule out some possible causes.
If the culprit behind the eosinophilic enteritis is as simple as a parasite infestation, deworming might cure the condition. If tests determine that your cat suffers from food allergies, the vet will recommend a special diet. Finding the appropriate food for Fluffy might require a bit of trial and error.
If your cat suffers from inflammatory bowel disease, things get a bit more complicated. It's not just a question of diet, although that's important. He'd also require medication, generally steroids to treat inflammation and antibiotics. Your cat might never be completely "cured"; he could have inflammatory bowel disease on and off for the rest of his life. In that case he'd need to visit the vet regularly for monitoring.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.