Gastric and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats How To Identify and Treat Gastric and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

Gastric and Intestinal Ulcers in Cats

Gastric and intestinal ulcers are illnesses that are frequent in cats. The sad part is that some even die from this condition. Learn about how to identify and treat it in this article.

Gastric and intestinal ulcers are painful conditions that affect cats of all ages. These ulcers have a number of symptoms, like vomiting, weight loss, and decreased appetite. In severe cases, they can even lead to serious complications and death. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments for gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent them.

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments for gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent them.

Causes of Gastric and Intestinal Issues in Cats

There are several potential causes of gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): It is a dangerous condition that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn forms ulcers.

  • Gastritis: This is a general term used to describe inflammation of the stomach lining, which can also lead to the formation of ulcers.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, have a possibility of irritating the stomach lining and leading to the development of ulcers.

  • Stress: Stress can lead to an increase in stomach acid production, which can cause irritation and ulceration of the stomach lining.

  • Cancer: Tumors of the gastrointestinal tract can also cause ulcers to form.

  • Trauma: Physical injuries to the stomach or intestines can cause ulcers to develop.

  • Bacterial infection and Ibuprofen poisoning: Helicobacter or other bacterial infections in the stomach or intestines can cause ulcers.

  • Idiopathic: Sometimes, the cause is unknown, and the case is referred to as an idiopathic ulcer.

It is important to note that some cats may have more than one underlying cause for the development of their ulcers. The most logical thing is to have a word with your veterinarian to identify the causes of the ulceration.


Symptoms of gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats can be different based on the severity of the ulcer and the cat itself. Some common symptoms of ulcers include:

  • Vomiting, especially if the vomit contains blood or a dark, tarry material

  • Weight loss and a reduced appetite

  • Gastrointestinal discomforts - abdominal pain or tenderness

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Dehydration

  • Lethargy and depression

  • Black, tarry stools (melena)

  • Blood in the stool (hematochezia)

  • Weakness, anemia

It's important to note that some cats may not show any symptoms until the ulcers are quite severe, so it's important to be aware of any changes in your cat's behavior or health and to bring them to the attention of a veterinarian if you are concerned.

Clinical Diagnosis

The diagnosis of gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats is usually made based on a combination of the cat's symptoms, physical examination, and diagnostic testing. Some of the methods used to diagnose ulcers include:

  • Physical examination: A veterinarian will perform a physical examination of the cat, including palpating the abdomen and looking for signs of discomfort or pain. They may also look for signs of vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration.

  • Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile may be performed to check for anemia, dehydration, and other signs of illness.

  • Urinalysis: A urine sample may be checked for signs of kidney or bladder issues.

  • Fecal examination: A stool sample may be analyzed for blood, parasites, or other signs of illness.

  • Gastroscopy or Endoscopy: These are diagnostic procedures that involve inserting a small camera down the cat's throat or through the rectum to examine the stomach and intestines. This is the most accurate method to diagnose ulcers as it allows direct visualization of the stomach and intestines.

  • X-rays or Ultrasound: These imaging methods can also be helpful in identifying ulcers by showing visible changes in the stomach or intestinal lining or any other structural changes that could indicate a tumor or other lesion in the GI tract

  • Biopsy: A small sample of the stomach or intestinal lining may be taken and examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of ulcers and rule out other underlying causes, such as cancer.

It is important to have a thorough examination and appropriate diagnostic testing, as it will help veterinarians to identify the underlying cause of ulcers, as well as determine an appropriate course of treatment.


Treatment for gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats depends on the cause of the ulcers and the severity of the condition. Some common treatments include:

  • Medications: Ulcer-healing medications such as sucralfate and omeprazole may be prescribed to help protect the stomach lining and promote healing. Also, antacids can be used to neutralize stomach acid. In cases of infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the causative bacteria.

  • Diet modification: A special diet may be recommended to promote healing and prevent further irritation of the stomach lining. This may include a highly digestible, low-fat diet like Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Canned Cat Food that is easy on the stomach.

  • Surgery: Sometimes, your cat may need surgery to remove a tumor or take care of a physical obstruction that is causing the ulcers.

  • Management of underlying causes: Depending on the cause of the ulcers, digestive supplements, surgery, or other treatments may be necessary to manage the underlying condition.

  • Stress management: Cats with stress-related ulcers may require environmental enrichment, behavioral modification, and medications to reduce stress

  • Hospitalization: In severe cases, cats may require hospitalization for intensive supportive care, including fluid therapy, blood transfusions, and other medications as needed.

You should follow your veterinarian's instructions properly and bring your cat back for follow-up appointments as recommended. In addition, it's important to give all medications as prescribed and to continue with the prescribed diet and any recommended lifestyle changes to ensure that the cat fully recovers and prevents the ulcers from reoccurring.

Preventive Measures

Preventing gastric and intestinal ulcers in cats can be challenging, as the underlying causes of ulcers can be difficult to predict and vary widely. However, here are some steps to take to reduce the risk of ulcers:

  • Avoiding medications like corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Managing stress

  • Regular check-ups

  • Avoiding allergic foods and feeds

While it's not always possible to prevent gastric and intestinal ulcers, taking these steps can help reduce the risk and ensure that your cat is as healthy as possible.

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