Gastritis in Cats

By Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH; 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).

cat_gastrointestinal_2018-01What 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
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) Gastrinoma or other cancers 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 radiographs (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 underlying cause or condition. Most acute cases resolve without medical intervention.

Non-medical treatment guidelines for acute gastritis include:

  • Withhold food for 8-12 hours.
  • Frequently offer 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 highly digestible, low-fat, low-fiber food.
  • Resume feeding with small, frequent meals (usually about half of the normal daily amount of food, divided into four to six meals).
  • Gradually increase the amount of food over the next two to three days.
  • If vomiting returns, contact your veterinarian.

Medical treatment for cats with gastritis may include:

  • Anti-emetic (anti-vomiting) medications, such as maropitant (Cerenia®) or metoclopramide (Reglan®)
  • Fluid therapy if the cat is dehydrated
  • Gastrointestinal protectants used to prevent stomach ulcers, such as famotidine (Pepcid®) or ranitidine (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 underlying cause and how successfully it can be treated.

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