Colitis (Inflammation of the Colon) in Cats

Overview of Colitis in Cats

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, or large intestine. It may be acute, with sudden onset and short duration, or chronic, that is present for at least two to three weeks or exhibiting a pattern of episodic recurrence. In cats, there is no age or gender association with colitis.

There are many potential causes of colitis. These include:

Most often, colitis causes some combination of fresh bright red blood in the stool, mucus in the stool, straining to defecate, and increased frequency of defecation, often many times per day. With acute colitis, the cat usually does not show signs of systemic illness, but cats with chronic colitis can experience clinically important weight loss.

What To Watch For

An occasional bout of acute colitis is not uncommon in the small animal patient. However, it is important to watch for frequent recurrence or worsening of signs, especially if they include systemic signs of illness. Although occasional vomiting occurs in otherwise healthy cats, repeated vomiting, poor appetite, weight loss and general lethargy should be reported promptly to your veterinarian.

Diagnosis of Colitis in Cats

Your veterinarian will recommend diagnostic tests in order to recognize colitis and confirm the diagnosis. Tests may include:

Treatment of Colitis in Cats

Treatment for colitis is most effective when directed at the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend several symptomatic treatments for an animal with signs of colitis before recommending an extensive diagnostic evaluation.

These treatments include:

Home Care and Prevention

Administer as directed any medications prescribed by your veterinarian and follow recommendations for dietary modification. Also, observe your cat’s general condition, watching for worsening of symptoms and bringing any changes to the attention of your veterinarian.

Although some causes of colitis cannot be prevented, try to avoid exposure of your cat to infectious agents or abrupt dietary changes.

In-depth Information on Colitis in Cats

Many infectious agents can cause symptoms of colitis:

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to identify colitis and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Tests may include:

Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests to ensure optimal medical care if the previous tests were not conclusive. These are selected on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:

Treatment In-depth

Many treatments are available for cats with colitis. If at all possible, a specific cause for colitis should be identified so that proper treatment can be instituted. In otherwise healthy cats with colitis, outpatient treatments such as anti-parasitic medications or dietary modification may be recommended initially. If this approach is unsuccessful, additional tests (including colonoscopy and biopsy) are recommended to improve the chance of a specific and accurate diagnosis. Complete resolution of clinical symptoms may not be possible, even with an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Treatments for colitis may include one or more of the following:

Follow-up Care for Cats with Colitis

Optimal treatment for your cat requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up may include: