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My Experience With Cat IBD

Once you’re familiar with the sound of your cat throwing up, you’ll start hearing it constantly. You’ll start running around your home when you hear the pipes rattle when you hear a low rumbling truck outside, or even when you hear someone coughing outside – oh no, is she barfing again????

The risks of adopting an older pet

I knew that adopting an older cat (she’s 11 now) could bring the potential for health conditions, but I didn’t expect how scary they would be. My cat, Molly, was always (for lack of a better term) a barfer, and I just figured she ate too fast. I got used to cleaning up after a sick cat. She seemed fine otherwise, so I didn’t think much of it, and the vet didn’t seem to have many ideas.

Until one night she started throwing up at 3am and didn’t stop. I took her to the emergency vet, who did blood work and an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a thickening in her intestines, which indicated she had bowel inflammation for a long time. I was deeply upset and felt awful that we didn’t start treatment sooner. But how could I have known? I wish she spoke English and could have just said: “Mom, my stomach hurts!” The vet diagnosed her with either inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal cancer, but a biopsy to confirm would cost $1,200. The vet explained that the treatment is generally the same, except if it was cancer, she would start on chemotherapy. I just wanted to stabilize Molly, make her comfortable, and prolong her life, without draining my savings. I chose to start her on a steroid and skip the biopsy.

We began the IBD treatment for my cat

She started on a specialized diet (she’s been doing well on Hill’s I/D brand), prednisilone every day, and an anti-nausea pill when needed. It took a while for her to stabilize after her initial flare. There were many nights where I sat up with her trying to comfort her after many bouts of throwing up and following her around with a roll of paper towels. Sometimes I would frantically Google “in-home pet euthanasia” just to make sure I knew my options. I really didn’t want her to suffer. A few weeks after we started the prednisilone, she had a bout of diarrhea. I covered my entire apartment in towels the vet started her on a liquid medication that smelled like bananas, which seemed to work really well!

My cat still has flares every now and then

After about 3 months on the steroids, Molly seemed to stabilize, although she had gained 5 pounds. Which for a cat is a *lot* of weight gain! I had to start limiting her food and she got back down to a relatively healthy weight, although she’s still a bit chubby. She has flares every now and then, especially when there’s a change in our routine or when I go on vacation and a sitter comes. Her flares are generally just bouts of throwing up. I’m not thrilled with her being on a steroid, but we have weaned down to half a pill every other day, and I would rather her be comfortable for now.

The love and companionship of a pet

The trade-off for taking care of an animal with a chronic condition is, of course, the love and companionship they provide. I’ve had Molly for 5 years now and I can’t imagine my life without her. I’m not sure what our future with inflammatory bowel disease holds, but I am sure that I’ll do as much as I can to make her comfortable and give her love.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    5 months ago

    Oh no, I hope she feels better soon. I never really thought of a pet having IBD. Rest up, Molly!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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