Gastritis in Cats
Dr. Bari Spielman
Gastritis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the lining of the stomach. The most common sign associated with gastritis is vomiting. Although signs may be mild and self-limiting in some cases, they can be debilitating and even life threatening in others, necessitating hospitalization and intensive supportive care. Acute gastritis is characterized by vomiting of less than 7 days duration. Chronic gastritis is characterized by intermittent vomiting of greater than 1-2 weeks duration. There are a variety of causes of gastritis, some associated with acute vomiting and some associated with chronic vomiting. Dietary indiscretion (ingestion of spoiled food, foreign bodies, plant material, hair or overeating)
Causes of Acute Gastritis
Dietary intolerance or allergy
Ingestion of chemical irritants or toxins (fertilizers, cleaning agents, lead)
Drugs/medication (antibiotics, steroids)
Infectious agents (viral, bacterial, parasitic)
Shock or sepsis (systemic infection)
Causes of Chronic Gastritis
Chronic or long term exposure to, or ingestion of, any of the causes listed for acute gastritis
Inflammatory bowel disease
There are some systemic diseases that can be associated with both acute and chronic gastritis. Those include kidney failure, liver disease, hypoadrenocorticism, neurologic disease and ulcers. Both dogs and cats can be affected and males just as often as females. Due to the increased potential for dietary indiscretion in younger animals, they are more likely to develop acute gastritis. Chronic gastritis can be seen in all ages.
What to Watch For
Excessive vomiting with blood (either red or "coffee-grounds")
Lack of appetite
Melena (black tarry stool representative of digested blood)
Many cases of acute gastritis are short lived, resolve easily, and an extensive diagnostic evaluation is seldom required. Diagnostics should be performed in those individuals whose gastritis is severe, chronic, or are exhibiting systemic signs of illness. A thorough history and physical examination is of paramount importance prior to diagnostic evaluation.
Complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, urinalysis, and fecal examination
Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) +/- contrast/dye evaluation
Abdominal ultrasound in selected cases
Endoscopy in selected cases
There are several things your veterinarian may recommend to symptomatically treat your cat. The principal goals of symptomatic therapy are to restore and maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, and to completely rest the gastrointestinal tract.
Nothing orally (NPO) for a several hours, with a gradual introduction of water followed by a bland diet
Fluid and electrolyte therapy as indicated in the dehydrated patient
Antiemetics (drugs that symptomatically decrease the frequency of vomiting)
Antacids (drugs that block acid production by the stomach)
Gastric protectants (drugs that coat and soothe the GI tract)
The primary recommendation is to withhold all food and water until contacting your veterinarian. Administer medication and diet only as directed by your veterinarian and observe your cat very closely. If clinical signs are not improving, and/or your cat is getting worse, have your cat evaluated at once.