Gastritis in Cats

By Tammy Hunter, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

What is gastritis?

Gastritis is defined as inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It may occur as a short episode (acute) or have a long duration (chronic).


What are the signs of gastritis?

The most common clinical signs associated with gastritis are sudden 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 24 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 should not eat (dietary indiscretion).

Some of the common causes or conditions associated with gastritis in cats include:

Antibiotics Fungal toxins Mast cell tumor
Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) Gastrinoma or other neoplasia Molds
Chemical irritants Hairballs Overeating
Chemotherapy Heavy metal poisoning Pancreatitis
Corticosteroids Idiopathic (unknown cause) gastritis Peritonitis
Diabetic ketoacidosis Immune mediated disease Poisonous plants
Dietary indiscretion Infections (bacterial or viral) Spoiled food
Endocrine disease Inflammatory bowel disease Stress
Food allergy Intestinal parasites Toxins
Foreign body Kidney disease Uterine infection
Fungal infection Liver disease  

How is gastritis diagnosed?

Tests for gastritis may include blood tests, urinalysis, fecal tests, 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:

  • withholding food for 8-12 hours
  • offering small amounts of water frequently during the first 24 hours. Note: If fluids cannot be given orally without inducing vomiting, seek immediate veterinary treatment
  • if there is no vomiting, 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:

  • anti-emetic or anti-vomiting medications, for example, maropitant (brand name Cerenia®) or metoclopramide (brand name Reglan®)
  • fluid therapy if the cat is dehydrated
  • gastrointestinal protectants are used to prevent stomach ulcers, for example famotidine (brand name Pepcid®) or ranitidine (brand name Zantac®)

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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