Feline IBD and a Raw Diet

Kitten eating raw chicken drumstick

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is described as the disease of the decade with respect to domestic cats.  The description comes from Elizabeth Hodgkins the veterinarian who wrote the excellent book Your Cat

According to Elizabeth, over the past 10 years in America, the number of new cases of feline IBD has increased more than any other cat health problem.  It used to be uncommon, apparently, but now chronic diarrhoea, which is sometimes accompanied by vomiting, is relatively commonplace. 

My reading of the situation regarding veterinarians’ approach to dealing with IBD is that they struggle to deal with it effectively.  It is more a case of controlling the disease rather than curing it and there appears to be lots of tests etc. before prescribing long-term treatments that simply manage the condition.  This is achieved by prescribing drugs which suppress the cat’s immune system.  In addition, the cat may be prescribed hypoallergenic cat food.  The trouble is that many hypoallergenic cat foods are not particularly hypoallergenic and drugs that suppress the immune system have side-effects.  Another problem is that the usual hypoallergenic cat food is dry cat food and we now know that dry cat food is not an ideal form of food because it is high in carbohydrates, low in water and contains grain. This is not a particularly satisfactory situation. Note:  modern hypoallergenic cat foods have been broken down to amino acids and are therefore are meant to be improvement on previous versions.

Feline IBD is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.  The cause of it is not clearly understood, as far as I’m aware, by veterinarians.  Some veterinarians believe that it is caused by long-term immune system stimulation which disrupts the digestive functions.  The diarrhoea is caused by fluids being secreted into the intestines.  The food being digested passes through the intestinal tract too quickly which also adds to the problem of diarrhoea and decreases the assimilation of nutrients into the bloodstream.

Most experts would seem to believe that it is an immune-reaction disease but it may also be a disease caused by excessive bad bacteria in the gut.  On the basis that it is an immune reaction disease than the most likely cause of this unpleasant and unnecessary allergic reaction is the food that is eaten by the cat.  The immune system would appear to is react to the presence of certain ingredients in commercially produced cat food as if they were “foreign invaders”. And obvious way to resolve this cat health problem is to change the substances that are being digestive inside the cat’s intestinal tract.

If hypoallergenic dry cat food is ruled out, then for mild cases of IBD hypoallergenic canned foods which don’t contain high-carbohydrate ingredients are a reasonable form of treatment.  For a cat that has chronic IBD, one recommendation – and this does make a lot of sense – is to convert to a completely natural feline diet.  This is going back to basics and to be frank if veterinarians are struggling with treating chronic IBD it would seem that going back to basics is the right thing to do.

So, a raw meat diet combined with a comprehensive vitamin/mineral/amino acid supplement may well be the answer.  This is where we get into difficulty because you will find that most veterinarians have little faith in a cat owner’s ability to prepare a safe raw diet for the cat.  There are potential storage problems with raw food and the other problem is ensuring that the diet is balanced.  We know about the so-called balanced diets of commercial cat food.  However, I believe that veterinarians have too little faith in the ability of many cat caretakers.  After all people are able to buy and prepare raw food for themselves so why can’t they do it for their cat?  And as mentioned, a single high quality supplement added to raw meat results in a natural and balanced feline diet.

If your veterinarian does argue that commercially prepared cat food is much safer because it has to be prepared according to certain regulations and is controlled by the AAFCO in America, we might remind him or her of the not uncommon cat food recalls and there are many cases of mild food poisoning, the source of which is an assessed.  Veterinarians simply diagnose mild food poisoning of some sort and treat that condition.  There is often no discussion of the possibility that commercially prepared cat food is the cause of the condition.  What I’m saying is that commercial cat food is not necessarily any safer in respect of its preparation and storage than raw cat food is, as prepared by a cat owner.

In conclusion, therefore, for cats suffering from chronic debilitating IBD, a raw food diet is certainly a very good recommendation and you can read about a raw food diet on this page.

5 thoughts on “Feline IBD and a Raw Diet”

  1. My cat was a rescue she came to me on a salmon dry cat food she was a little overweight my vet put her on royal Cannin calorie control dry and canned she did OK on this till the diarrhea and sight vomiting started about year and half later after reading the calorie control canned has carrageenan in it which I read is not great could it also be my fault I was letting her lick my cottage cheese and yogurt dish? Any thoughts? The raw food really Scare’s me

    • Don’t try raw unless you are absolutely sure. It is tricky. I would doubt that the Canine dry cat food caused the diarrhoea. I am unsure, however. Anyway changing her diet will certainly test that. I am unable to provide more information to be honest. If a cat eats a bit of human food that is no problem really as long as the remaining diet is good cat food and balanced. I don’t think cottage cheese and yoghurt is a problem as long as it is very small amounts.

  2. I worry about the safe side of raw food with bacteria even human food is not that safe why can’t these companies come up with a safe quality food that actually works

  3. I guess with animals with that Ibd, it would be hard to find an ideal diet.Finding the right kind of food would be hard but i agree with what your saying Marc. Sometimes its hard to know what food we are giving them is the right stuff. Thankfully I’ve been lucky as most of mine haven’t suffered any of that, but are mindful as smokey is getting up to the mature age soon being 7. Its good to know what is out there, good article.

  4. I automatically assume that any food made by a company larger than about 10 people is compromised in ways that save money and lower quality. The only way a comapny can survive making cat food is to stoop the the cheap levels of the others in order to stay in business. That is probably therefore why there’s only about 3 cat food companies that own everything.

    Anything that is made by a corporation is made in a way to maximise the profits of that corporation whilst being disguised as something that is entirely for the customer. In this case the customer is the cat though so they don’t even have to try very hard because as long as the cat ‘appears’ to like the food then they have succeeded.

    Seriously – those evil ba$tard$ working in those disgusting companies and factories. They all deserve to rot. They probably refuse to see the consequences of their actions even when asked about it. These people have little anecdotes which they use to rationalize their evil insane behaviour. Little opposing arguments that they recite as an end to the discussion, claiming that it means they are correct to ignore questions and criticisms. Ignorance is a very confounding and impossible to negotiate with in a civilised manner. Without it cat food would probably be a whole lot better.

    Even in humans IBD is very hard to pinpoint and treat because it can be caused by so many different things. So I can understand that for cats it’s probably much worse even just because it’s already difficult but added to that a cat doesn’t talk and can’t say how much it had for dinner or how it felt after eating certain foods etc etc – which humans can do, and they still can’t prevent irritable bowels. Alot of cats must be suffering quite alot I would have to assume. Especially because they hide pain and discomfort very well.

    Because commercial food is basically evil I will slowly wean them over to raw food which I will buy in human shops. I trust the meat they give humans but I don’t trust the meat they give animals. So it’d have to be human grade meat – organic/free range/humanely reared – and then prepared by me and probably frozen in meal sized pieces. I guess that if I can get them eating raw food – and not eating carbohydrates – that they will surely have good healthy digestion as a result. It’s just logical.


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