Gastrointestinal Problems in Cats

When your cat has an upset stomach or is dealing with other gastrointestinal difficulties, he cannot tell you like another person or even a child can. However, there are signs and symptoms that you can look for that will clearly indicate that your cat is in some kind of trouble. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for keeping your cat clear of these issues and resolving them quickly and effectively if your feline is already dealing with them.

  1. Significance

    • Gastrointestinal problems in a cat can indicate a variety of issues. Generally, a cat has stomach problems due to four factors--parasites, genetic tendencies, immune system complications or changes in the bacterial populations that live in your cat's intestines. However, gastrointestinal problems also mimic the symptoms of more serious issues, such as kidney problems, so it is important to get a professional opinion about the problem as soon as possible.

    Features

    • Gastrointestinal problems in a cat are characterized in several ways. A cat may stop eating partially or entirely, resulting in weight loss. Sometimes, though, food consumption will not appear to change, but your cat will still lose weight. This is a key indicator. In addition, your cat may start vomiting regularly--everything from fluid to food to hairballs. Diarrhea and constipation are also signs of gastrointestinal turmoil.

    Misconceptions

    • Many people believe that part of being a cat is vomiting up the occasional hairball, and may even try to treat their cat's hairball issues with diets designed to remedy a "grease deficiency" that causes the formation of hairballs. However, in reality regular hairball issues nearly always indicate an underlying gastrointestinal problem and can be resolved by resolving the stomach issue.

    Identification

    • While you can certainly spot the symptoms of a gastrointestinal problem yourself, the nature of the problem will have to be diagnosed by a veterinarian. If your cat has had all the requisite tests and bloodwork and there appears to be no major problem with the gastrointestinal system, then you can treat the stomach issues by changing his diet. However, it is important to get the problem diagnosed if possible so that you do not accidentally overlook a major disorder.

    Prevention/Solution

    • You can often prevent gastrointestinal problems in your cat by being very careful with his diet. While dry food is a popular option, it can lack the moisture that a cat needs to get from the diet. As a result, many vets now recommend canned food. In addition, poultry or rabbit provides plenty of taurine, an essential amino acid that can lead to stomach difficulties when it exists in a deficiency. Also, avoiding beef, lamb, seafood, corn, soy products, milk and wheat gluten can also help your cat keep his gastrointestinal system under control. You will have to read the ingredients lists carefully to make sure that your canned food has all the right stuff.

    Warning

    • Because gastrointestinal issues can also indicate serious kidney problems, it is very important that you do not simply try to treat your cat's gastrointestinal problems on your own with a change in diet. You must work with your vet to rule out major health complications before you start attempting to treat the issue without medication or veterinary supervision.

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