Gastritis in Cats
What is gastritis?
"Gastritis may be acute or chronic, and it may be associated with more serious conditions."
Gastritis is defined as inflammation of the gastric mucosa. The word is derived from the Greek "gastro-"meaning "of the stomach" and "- it is " meaning "inflammation." Gastritis may be acute or chronic, and it may be associated with more serious conditions.
What are the signs of gastritis?
The most common clinical signs associated with gastritis are acute vomiting and decreased appetite (anorexia). Other clinical signs may include dehydration, lethargy or depression increased thirst, blood in the vomit or feces, and abdominal pain. Acute gastritis is typically self-limiting and of short (less than twenty-four hours) duration. The cause is normally not discovered because the clinical signs usually resolve before diagnostic testing is performed.
What causes gastritis?
Acute gastritis occurs more frequently in kittens, or in curious cats, who eat things they shouldn't eat (called "dietary indiscretion"). Causes of acute gastritis include the ingestion of spoiled or raw food, non-food items such as garbage, foreign objects and plants, exposure to toxins, molds and fungi, eating inappropriate foodstuffs such as table scraps or leftovers, or being fed large quantities of food. With acute gastritis, most cats recover in one to three days with supportive treatment, which includes a short period of withholding food. The prognosis is usually good, even if the primary cause is not identified.
Some of the common causes or conditions associated with gastritis in cats include:
Bilious vomiting syndrome
Foreign body (including hairballs)
Gastrinoma or other neoplasia
Granulomatous gastric disease
Heavy metal poisoning
Hepatic (liver) disease
Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease)
Idiopathic (unknown cause) gastritis
Immune mediated disease
Inflammatory bowel disease
Mast cell tumor
Mycotoxins (fungal toxins)
Pythium (water molds)
How is gastritis diagnosed?
"If the gastritis is chronic, more involved testing will be undertaken."
Tests for gastritis may include blood tests, urinalysis, abdominal x-rays, abdominal ultrasound and endoscopy. In acute cases, only minimal diagnostics such as blood and urine tests are required. If the gastritis is chronic, more involved testing will be undertaken to determine the exact cause of your cat's vomiting.
How is gastritis treated?
Treatment is based on the specific cause. Most acute cases resolve without medical intervention.
Non-medical treatment guidelines for acute gastritis include:
- Withhold food for 24 to 48 hours
- Offer small amounts of water frequently during the first 24 hours. (If fluids cannot be given orally without inducing vomiting, seek immediate veterinary treatment)
- If there is no vomiting for 24 hours, feed a small amount of a highly-digestible, low-fat food
- Resume feeding with small meals given frequently (usually about ½ of the normal daily amount of food, divided into 4-6 meals)
- Gradually increase the amount of food over the next two to three days
- If vomiting returns, notify your veterinarian
Medical treatment for cats with gastritis may include:
- Gastrointestinal protectants - such as sucralfate
- Anti-emetic or anti-vomiting medications - such as metoclopramide
- H2 receptor antagonists - used when stomach ulcers are suspected - examples include cimetidine, ranitidine, nizatidine or famotidine
- Proton pump inhibitor - such as omeprazole - used in severe cases with stomach ulceration
What is the prognosis for gastritis?
The prognosis is good for cases of acute gastritis. For chronic gastritis, the prognosis is based on the exact underlying cause.
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