Protein-Losing Enteropathy in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment What Is Protein-Losing Enteropathy in Cats?

Protein-Losing Enteropathy in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Protein-losing enteropathy in cats is not a very common condition in cats. However, knowing how to deal with it can be helpful as a cat owner. This article will help you know how to deal with protein-losing enteropathy in cats.

Protein-losing enteropathy is a complex gastrointestinal disorder that can affect cats, leading to the loss of valuable proteins through the intestinal tract. This illness may significantly impact the general wellness and dietary habits of a cat. We will carefully examine the causes, signs, and potential treatments for protein-losing enteropathy in cats in this article.


The causes of protein-losing enteropathy in cats can be diverse and may vary from case to case. Here are some common causes that can lead to the development of this condition:

  • Gastrointestinal inflammation: Chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, frequently brought on by conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can affect the normal function of the intestinal lining and hinder protein absorption, resulting in protein loss in the stool.

  • Intestinal infections:  Low protein levels in cats can also be caused by a few parasites and bacterial, or viral illnesses that can harm the intestinal lining and result in protein leakage. Infections such as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) or intestinal parasites like hookworms can be associated with protein-losing enteropathy in cats.

  • Abnormalities of the lymphatic system: The lymphatic system is critical for the transport of proteins throughout the body. Any obstruction or disturbance of the lymphatic capillaries might cause the buildup of proteins in the intestines and subsequent loss. 

  • Food sensitivities or allergies: Certain dietary ingredients can cause cats to react negatively, which can result in gastrointestinal inflammation and protein loss. 

  • Genetic predisposition: Some cat breeds are more prone to having this protein loss enteropathy disorder than others. This shows genetics has a ripple to play in acquiring this condition.


The symptoms of low protein in cats can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying causes. The following are some protein-losing enteropathy symptoms

  • Weight loss: Unexpected weight loss is frequently one of the initial symptoms seen in cats with protein-losing enteropathy. Muscle mass and general body condition may suffer from the loss of vital proteins.

  • Poor appetite: Cats with protein-losing enteropathy may have a poor appetite or be reluctant to eat. 

  • Diarrhea: Chronic diarrhea is a common sign of cat enteropathy that loses protein. The feces may be runny, soft, or have blood or mucous. 

  • Vomiting: Some cats may experience recurrent episodes of vomiting, which can further contribute to weight loss and dehydration.

  • Lethargy: Cats with protein-losing enteropathy may appear lethargic, lack energy, and show less interest in routine activities.

  • Edema: In more serious cases, cats may develop edema, which is the buildup of fluid in the tissues and can cause swelling, typically seen in the abdomen (ascites), limbs, or face

  • Poor coat condition: A dull, dry, or untidy coat may be present in cats with protein-losing enteropathy. The fur may look dull and may shed more frequently than usual.

  • Muscle atrophy: Protein deficiency can cause Muscle atrophy, which can cause a significant decrease in muscular mass, particularly around the spine and hindquarters.

Treatment and Management Options

Addressing the underlying cause, treating the symptoms, and promoting the affected cat's general health are all important components of the treatment and management of protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) in cats. Here are some popular management techniques and treatment options:

  • Dietary modifications: In cases where food allergies or sensitivities are suspected, switching to a hypoallergenic or novel protein diet may be recommended. Your veterinarian can offer advice on the best diet to choose for the unique requirements of your cat.

  • Medication: Different drugs may be used to manage PLE in cats, depending on the underlying cause and symptoms.  To treat symptoms and promote digestive health, doctors may also advise taking certain drugs to prevent vomiting, diarrhea, or bacterial overgrowth.

  • Nutritional support: Cats with PLE frequently lose weight and have nutritional deficits. Your veterinarian may suggest dietary supplements or specially created meals to boost weight gain and supply essential nutrients as a solution to this problem.

  • Complications management: If your cat develops edema (fluid accumulation), your veterinarian may recommend drugs to assist the body rid itself of extra fluid

  • Regular monitoring: Monitoring your cat's development and response to medication is crucial for controlling PLE. Regular visits to your veterinarian, and blood tests to assess protein levels and general health.

  • Follow-up care: Long-term management of PLE may be required. Thus, it's critical to abide by their advice for continued treatment. This can entail routine checkups, continuing medication administration, etc.

Prevention Tips

While it may not be possible to prevent all cases of protein-losing enteropathy in cats, there are some measures you can take to promote overall gastrointestinal health and potentially reduce the risk or severity of the condition. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Balanced and appropriate diet: Provide your cat with a high-quality, balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure that the diet is appropriate for your cat's age, breed, and any specific dietary sensitivities. Avoid sudden dietary changes, as they can potentially trigger gastrointestinal issues.

  • Regular veterinary care: Visit your veterinarian regularly to maintain your cat's overall health and spot any potential issues early. 

  • Food trials for allergies: Work with your veterinarian to conduct controlled feeding trials to find and remove any potential trigger items if your cat has a history of food allergies or sensitivities. 

  • Parasite control: Use a thorough parasite control strategy to shield your cat against both internal and external parasites. 

  • Stress management: Try to eliminate all causes of stress in your cat’s environment

  • Proper hygiene and cleanliness: Keep your cat's living space tidy, including litter box cleaning and proper waste disposal.

  • Consult with a veterinarian: Consult your veterinarian right away if you detect any troubling symptoms or alterations in your cat's behavior, eating, or stools. 

It's critical to remember that every cat is different and that different factors can contribute to protein-losing enteropathy. As a cat owner, make sure you understand protein-losing enteropathy.

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