What Should I Feed My Cat with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBD)?

CatChannel's online veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, offers feeding suggestions for cats with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

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Q: My cat was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). He does not like the prescription diet, and the food he eats now makes the symptoms reappear. Are there any natural food choices I can give him?

A: I suspect your cat was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) rather than Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). People often confuse the two.

The best diet for a cat with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a hypoallergenic one. Hypoallergenic diets contain a protein source — venison, rabbit or duck — that your cat probably has not been exposed to because it normally is not found in commercial foods.

If your cat will not eat any of these diets, you will have to try several different types until you find one that causes the least clinical signs. If you’re determined to feed a “natural” diet, you can check out your local pet food stores. Many brands market themselves as being “natural,” “organic” or something similar. I cannot vouch for these diets personally, but if I were to choose one, I would find a diet that contained a protein source that my cat had never encountered.

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Reader Comments

Paula    International

7/19/2015 1:47:12 AM

Highly recommend Royal Canin vetinary diet - wet food - it's non allergenic, constituted from rice and chicken. My cat was literally dying from IBS - lost weight over two year period, over grooming, faeces contained blood and were loose etc. He needed frequent anti inflammatory drugs to reduce vomiting episodes.

Vet recommended only feeding our cat (. 12 years of age ) with this food, plus occasional addition of sensitive cat dry food ( same brand ).

Since feeding our cat with this product, he has not had any anti flammatory injections; no vomiting; no rushing outside to do his business; he has put on weight; coat is shining ; he doesn't over groom anymore.

As far as our cat is concerned, it's been a miracle treatment. Thus is an honest review -no vested interests in the company. Just letting cat owners who have cats afflicted with IBS know what has worked for our cat.

( incidentally, we did pay for tests to rule out other causes for our cat's condition, like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease etc )

Michael    International

7/17/2015 1:48:48 AM

I had 2 previously healthy 2-year-old cats that both developed endoscopically confirmed IBD. Both became symptomatic with recurrent vomiting within 1-2 days of vaccination. My first cat was treated with steroids and died within 2 years of treatment initiation after developing diabetes, and Cushingoid features. Was unaware of effective alternative treatments at the time. My second cat, now 12, has had IBD for the past 10 years (of equal severity per endoscopic biopsy histological analysis and initial symptoms) which has been far, far more effectively treated with a regimen consisting of Intestamine (glucosamine, glutamate, fructooligosaccharides and acacia), Rx Clay, Walgreen's Super Probiotic, Reglan, Pepcid, Prilosec and Royal Canin Feline Hypoallergenic Cat Food. The first 4 listed products come in powder formulations which can be mixed into her food, although it does require mixing her dry food and water with a hand mixer into a wet paste before combining. Fortunately, my cat is quite compliant with the needed finger feeding every 6 hours. She has had some exacerbations of her IBD, usually after antibiotic treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections, but these have been managed with either IV Flagyl or an increase (usually short-term) of the amount of Intestine she receives. Ten years into her IBD she has a good quality of life. This complementary regimen really does work. I hope this information will be helpful to others. I forgot to mention that she also receives twice weekly SQ Vitamin B12 (1 ml, yes, 1 ml.), IM glucosamine and IM Adequin.

Ellen    Providence, RI

6/18/2015 6:21:07 AM

My Corey had IBD since we got him. Thru the years, his IBD got worse. We tried everything. Changed his food, but he wouldn't eat it. He would always go towards Bogey's food. It was hard. Finally, I tried Frisked Senior. It finally worked. Then he ended up with kidney cancer and we had to put him down in May of 2012. He was 13, 5 days short of being 14. Bogey ended up with bone & lung cancer. We had to put him down, he had bone & lung cancer. He was 14 1/2. They both were spoiled. I miss them both.

Vicki    International

2/1/2015 9:38:59 AM

My cat has IBS and pancreatitis. He suffered for years until I found him a good diet. I tried the vet diets and tried all the good quality cat foods. Finally, I found something that works. His vomitting and explosive diarhea has stopped. First, no more vaccinations. Second, no more treats, EVER. The only treats he ever gets is a few small pieces of cooked turkey, chicken or fish. Third, he has to eat canned cat food only. The diet should be limited. Cats with this condition need to eat a lot less than a normal cat, and have smaller portions at a time. I finally found an organic canned cat food that worked. I am not sure if I can recommend a particular brand but for the sake of saving some cats, I will anyway. It is called Tom Cat Turkey Recipe made by Party Animal. He can only eat Turkey with any brand. I do not know why, but anything else will give him diarhea. Next, I add a small amount of digestive enzymes and probiotics. The brand I have is called My Healthy Pet by Holistic Blend. I mix in about 1/8 tsp with every feeding. I do not have any relationship with either of these companies, except that they have saved my cats life. I would highly recommend finding an organic grain free canned turkey recipe and natural digestive enzymes, and get your cat started right away. Throw away all treats and hard food.

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