Gastritis in Cats

Key Takeaways

Gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It can be either acute or chronic. 

• The primary symptom of gastritis is vomiting. Other symptoms include decreased appetite, dehydration, lethargy, and blood in stool

• The physical characteristics of the vomit may help diagnose whether the condition is acute or chronic

• Gastritis is a general term and is caused by a variety of precipitating factors

• Diagnostics generally include physical exam, bloodwork, diagnostic imaging, and stool analysis

• Treatment and prognosis vary depending on the root cause

A Closer Look: What is Gastritis in Cats?

Acute gastritis presents with a sudden onset of vomiting and varies from mild to severe. Severe cases may develop into an emergency if vomiting does not resolve.   Chronic gastritis results in intermittent vomiting lasting more than two weeks, and is less likely to be an emergency. In its chronic form, gastritis may be accompanied by weight loss.     The physical characteristics of vomit help determine if gastritis is chronic or acute. The differences in vomit between acute gastritis and chronic gastritis are as follows: 

• Acute gastritis: vomiting is frequent and can contain bile (yellow-green vomit) and food 

• Chronic gastritis: vomiting is persistent and can contain bile (yellow-green vomit) and blood (red-brown vomit)

Risk Factors

The prognosis for mild gastritis is generally good, with most affected animals recovering completely. Even in mild cases, veterinary attention is important to rule out other, more serious conditions and ensure prompt treatment. Some causes of both acute and chronic gastritis are potentially life-threatening, and require immediate veterinary attention. Gastritis affects cats of all ages and breeds, but younger cats are more likely to ingest non-food items or foods that can cause acute gastritis.

Possible Causes

Causes of acute gastritis include:

• Dietary indiscretion • Toxicosis • Pancreatitis • Food allergies • Reaction to medication

• Intestinal parasites • Viral infection (Feline panleukopenia) • Stress

Causes of chronic gastritis include:

Cancer • Feline inflammatory bowel disease • Peritonitis • Food allergies • Fungal infection

• Kidney disease • Pancreatitis

Main Symptoms

The main symptoms of gastritis are:

• Vomiting • Decreased appetite • Dehydration • Lethargy • Increased thirst • Blood in vomit 

• Blood in feces • Abdominal pain

Testing and Diagnosis

Cats presenting with symptoms of gastritis typically undergo a combination of diagnostics including: 

• Blood tests • Urinalysis  • Fecal test • Diagnostic imaging  • Endoscopy • Biopsy 

Other specific tests may be needed once an underlying cause is suspected.

Steps to Recovery

Treatment of gastritis depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms. 

Treatment for acute gastritis is generally of a supportive nature and includes: 

• Fluid therapy • Antiemetic medication • Anti-acid medication 

Additional treatments for chronic gastritis include:

• Gastrointestinal protection medication • Nutritional therapy • Surgery

• Immunosuppressive therapy • Anti-inflammatory drugs 

Prognosis for gastritis depends on the underlying cause and can vary greatly.

Prevention

Some of the conditions that lead to gastritis are contagious, like parasites and infectious diseases.    The most effective way to prevent gastritis is to take steps to ensure the general health. Strategies include:

• Avoiding contact with other cats whose health condition is unknown • Staying up to date with vaccinations 

• Annual veterinary check-ups • Nutritious, veterinarian-approved diet

• Preventing dietary indiscretion by ensuring proper storage and disposal of human food

Is Gastritis Common in Cats?

Symptoms of gastritis are common in cats, but confirming a diagnosis is rare. Symptomatic treatment is usually adequate to resolve symptoms in the absence of diagnosis.

Typical Treatment

Typical treatment of gastritis includes a combination of:

• Antiemetic medication • Anti-acid medication • Fluid therapy • Gastrointestinal protection 

• Nutritional therapy • Immunosuppressive therapy • Anti-inflammatory drugs

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