A cat sits and meows.

Reflux Esophagitis in Cats

Reflux esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus (the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach) resulting from the backward flow of gastric or intestinal fluid into the esophagus. This fluid contains acids and other irritating substances that can cause severe inflammation and ulceration.

Reflux in cats can come on suddenly, or it can be a chronic condition. When the condition is chronic, esophageal strictures may occur when scar tissue narrows the esophagus.

If your cat is showing symptoms of reflux esophagitis, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. This condition may progress to aspiration pneumonia, a potentially serious condition that results when food is inhaled into the lungs.

Causes of Reflux Esophagitis

There are many different causes of reflux esophagitis in cats, including:

Reflux esophagitis is seen in both dogs and cats. It occurs in males and females and all ages are affected, although younger animals with congenital hiatal hernia are at increased risk.

Common Symptoms

Diagnosis of Reflux Esophagitis in Cats

When visiting the veterinarian, a thorough knowledge of the animal’s history and clinical signs are necessary for diagnosis, as are diagnostic tests.

These include:

Treatment of Reflux Esophagitis in Cats

The severity of the condition and the underlying cause will determine the treatment and prognosis. If your cat’s esophagitis is caused by reflux, your veterinarian will treat the cause and symptoms of reflux.

Treatment Measures

If endoscopy is not successful in removing items that are lodged in the esophagus, or if the items have caused a perforation of the esophagus, surgery will be necessary, but unfortunately the prognosis in this case is not very good.

Home Care for Reflux Esophagitis

Pet parents should always administer prescribed medication and diet, and treat esophageal reflux as directed by their veterinarian. A soft, palatable, and nutritious food should be given to your cat. Always work to control vomiting, limit anesthesia, and avoid other disorders that predispose to reflux esophagitis.

Avoid late night feedings, as they tend to diminish gastroesophageal sphincter pressure during the animal’s sleep, contributing to reflux.

Your veterinarian will perform follow-ups and endoscopies to see if the esophagus is healing properly.