Colitis is an inflammation of the colon (large intestine). The usual signs of colitis in cats can range from intermittent constipation to long-term diarrhea. Colitis in cats may be brought on by various factors such as stress, bacteria, allergies, parasites or colon cancer. The usual signs of colitis in cats are the frequent need to defecate and a mucousy stool that sometimes contains blood. Cats with chronic colitis may experience weight loss due to frequent diarrhea or a suppressed appetite from being uncomfortable. In some instances there may be severe pain during bowel movements causing the cat to hold it in, which can lead to constipation. The following are ways to treat a cat with colitis.
Observe the type and frequency of your cat's stool if you suspect colitis. Also be aware of other factors including your cat's diet, environment, stress factors and if there's straining involved.
Gather a stool sample from your cat or have your vet obtain a stool sample to detect colitis. Depending on the results, a blood test may be ordered and in certain instances further testing may be done by way of radiography, colonoscopy or a biopsy.
If your cat is diagnosed with colitis, follow your vet's recommended treatment, which will depend on the cause of the colitis.
Special cat foods that are formulated to be non-irritating to the intestine (colon) or easily digested foods such as chicken, rice, eggs and cottage cheese are often recommended by vets for cats with colitis. Veterinarians will often prescribe a lifelong diet of easily digestible food for cats with chronic colitis.
Antibiotics such as Metronidazole (or Flagyl) are normally prescribed to help control bacterial causes and sulfa-containing drugs such as Azulfadine are often used long term to treat chronic colitis. In certain cases, steroids such as prednisone may be used.
There are commercial cat foods formulated specifically for cats with colitis such as Hill's Prescription Diet i/d or w/d and Royal Canin Waltham Veterinary Diet Feline Intestinal formulas. Websites such as RXPETFOOD.com and animalhousemagazine.com (see links in Resources below) deliver prescription cat foods to your home. This is helpful for people who aren't able to transport the food from their vet's office or live in an area where the food isn't available. RXPETFOOD.com requires a pet owner's confirmation that the food was recommended by their veterinarian.
Cats with colitis, especially older ones will commonly experience constipation. For intermittent constipation the vet may prescribe gentle enemas and oral softeners. There may be additional treatment for chronic constipation. Cats with colitis should be examined thoroughly before undergoing a course of treatment-if the actual cause turns out to be something other than the assumed cause, the treatment can cause more harm than good.