Cat Digestive System

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Gastrointestinal upset: a common cat digestive problem

Learn more about gastroenteritis.

Cat digestive system problems are one of the most common reasons cats are brought to their veterinarian. There can be a wide range of symptoms:
  • loss of appetite 
  • excess gas
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty swallowing
Learn more about stress diarrhea.

Some cat digestive system problems may resolve quickly. But more serious conditions could result in weight loss or dehydration. Your veterinarian can determine the appropriate treatment for cat digestive problems.

Learn more about inflammatory bowel disease.

Understanding cat digestive problems

Gastrointestinal disorders generally impair a cat’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. These problems in the cat digestive system can be caused by a wide range of factors, including:
  • an abrupt change in diet
  • trauma
  • indiscretionary eating
  • toxins
  • allergies
  • foreign objects
  • parasites
  • medications
  • infectious agents
Learn more about dietary indescretion.

Proper diagnosis of cat digestive system problems is often a difficult challenge

With so many potential causes of cat gastrointestinal disorders, diagnosing your cat’s digestive problem can be a challenge for your veterinarian. To complicate matters even more, the disorder can originate in any part of the cat digestive system, from the mouth and esophagus, to the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestinal tract.

Effective treatment for your cat

Depending on the severity and type of cat digestive problem, your cat’s treatment can involve dietary management, medical management or even abdominal surgery. If additional diagnostic tests are needed, your veterinarian may recommend laboratory analyses, radiographs, or a procedure like endoscopy, which involves inserting a tube with a small video camera into your cat’s digestive tract. This can help visualize the problem. Since many cat digestive problems can irritate the stomach and intestine, a diet that’s easily digested can help ensure your cat gets the nutrient balance necessary to support recovery.

Learn more about food allergy and food intolerance.