If your poor kitty suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, you know how miserable he feels. He's constantly scratching around in the litter box, because his inflamed intestines persistently produce diarrhea, or he experiences chronic constipation. Take him to the vet for a thorough examination and workup.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, affects cats in the same way it does people. Both the small and large intestines are affected. Because cats with IBS don't process food or eliminate feces normally, toxins can build up in Kitty's intestines. Symptoms include vomiting, flatulence and abdominal pain. In the litter box you might observe loose, watery, bloody or mucous stools alternating with hard little turds from constipation. Kitty might eat a great deal but still lose weight. IBS can't really be cured, but careful management can give Kitty a good quality of life.
Cold River Veterinary of North Clarendon, Vermont, offers advice on how to give pets a good start in life and avoid IBS: "True health begins with a varied diet of fresh, whole foods; avoiding redundant vaccinations and persistent pesticides; promoting repair with natural therapies that help restore normal function." Over-vaccination and poor diet aren't the only causes of IBS. Cats experiencing stress, allergies, infections or infestation with internal parasites might also exhibit IBS symptoms. Your vet can check Kitty's stool sample for signs of parasites and give him a dewormer to take care of that problem.
If your cat suffers from IBS, try different foods recommended by your vet. There are various prescription-only diets created for cats with gastrointestinal issues. You might need to do some experimenting and find out what food Kitty likes best and what agrees with him most—you'll see results in the litter box. It's likely that Kitty must eat this special diet for the rest of his life.
You likely see plenty of food and beverage products touted as containing probiotics for intestinal health. We need probiotics, or good bacteria, in our intestinal systems for them to function properly. So does Kitty. As VetInfo points out, many things can kill off good bacteria, including the overuse of prescription medications; stress; aging; and environmental contaminates. This allows infection and disease a foothold. Your vet can recommend a good probiotic for Kitty. Choose one that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, to increase lactic acid in his gastrointestinal system, and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. A powder you can mix into his food is probably your best bet, because you don't want to add to his stress by pilling him every day. If he won't eat food with probiotics mixed in, give him a teaspoon of plain yogurt daily.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
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.