Treating Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease With Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

“Bowel-flora alteration through fecal microbiota transplantation is a potential future cure for feline inflammatory bowel disease”(Michael)


To the best of my knowledge a new treatment called “faecal microbiota transplantation” (FMT) has never been discussed as a treatment for feline inflammatory bowel disease (feline IBD). Update: there is at least one example of this on the internet. Please see the comments.

This short post discusses the possibility that this treatment will be used and I hope that others will pick up on this article and discuss the prospects of this treatment further.

Feline IBD is a disease that can be controlled but not cured. That is the current thinking by veterinarians about the treatment of this illness2.

There are three bowel problems in cats, the symptoms of which include protracted diarrhoea, sporadic vomiting and malabsorption (nutrients being poorly absorbed into the bloodstream). Together they are classified as IBD. All of the diseases are “immune-mediated” reactions of the gastrointestinal system to food, bacterial or parasite antigens.

β€œImmune-mediated” means inflammation as a result of a malfunctioning immune system.

The role of bacteria in IBD has not been clearly analysed and established in cats. However, the role of bacteria in this disease in cats has been suggested as a possibility since cats have a higher concentration of bacteria in their small intestines than many other mammals.

The high concentration of bacteria may be due to the fact that cats are, as you know, obligate carnivores. They have to eat the flesh of prey. The short intestinal tract of the cat would also seem to make it more important to have more bacteria in the gut. As consequence, some scientists think that if a cat is fed a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet matching the diet of the wild cat they are less likely to develop IBD.

The fact of the matter is that if scientists believe that bacteria in the gut plays a role in IBD then I would suggest that FMT is an ideal candidate has a form of treatment for this illness because FMT would replace, wholesale, the bad bacteria in the intestinal tract of the cat with the faecal bacteria of a healthy cat.

As for humans, FMT as a treatment for the management of IBD has been proved successful in studies. The success rate was high. “In the 17 patients in whom it was reported, 13/17 ceased IBD medications within 6 weeks. All experienced symptom reduction or resolution within 4 months and 15 patients experience complete resolution within a year”1.

I will leave it there for the time being because this post is about suggesting a treatment, no more no less. However, I have a strong feeling that it is only a matter of time before FMT is used as a standard treatment for feline IBD.

The issue is this: FMT is a new process and as a treatment for a range of disorders regarding the intestine tract of people it is new. I remember seeing a television programme recently about an Australian physician who had a very high success rate with faecal microbiota transportation. He treated a woman who had terrible intestinal tract and bowel problems. She was forced to go to the toilet up to 40 times daily. She received the treatment and almost overnight her debilitating medical condition was literally cured. Her problem was a total imbalance in the bacteria of her digestive tract. There was bad bacteria in it and this treatment forced out bad bacteria and replaced it with good bacteria.


  • Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 4th ed. pages 270-271
  • Picture of bow:
  • Picture of moderate feline IBD (tissue sample):
  • Image by Michael

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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32 Responses

  1. The other thing I would like to state is this article is from 2014 and we’re in 2017 now and we’re JUST now making some advancements with fecal transplant. To state that an animal should NEVER have antibiotics (in the comments) is also irresponsible. If my cat is septic he needs antibiotics to save his life. Infections need antibiotics. Do I believe raw is the best food? YOU BET I DO! But having said that you need to realize there is no one answer for anything on this earth. Never.

    • Michael Broad says:

      I don’t edit comments. I delete them sometimes but I allow people to express their views. I moderate no more than a very small % of comments due to time pressures.

  2. I run a website for cats with IBD and an in touch with Animal Biome who does fecal transplants. This is a promising treatment but nowhere near a cure yet and to state that is irresponsible. Again, it’s a VERY promising treatment but it’s not yet a cure. The results you’re posting about here are not legitimate results in cats. Please do the research intensely before posting something like that. We want people to have hope for cats but not false hope. We are on the right track with things like fecal transplant and stem cells but in no way is it all going perfectly. Things are not this quick to heal, it takes times and it takes patient.

    • Michael Broad says:

      I wrote “potential” cure. I have added “future”. But I make it clear that this treatment may be of use in the future. Nowhere have I said it is a cure. Not sure what you are getting at.

  3. Achance4cats says:

    We will be embarking on this procedure with our vet Wednesday, as a final approach to what has been nearly 2 years of hell for one of our outdoor cats. She had had gas problems, and a few “episodes”, we had run tests, tried a number of diets, but finally a steroid injection paused the worst of it. But this last fall it became uncontrollable and constant. we have spent hundreds on testing, treatments, diets, and she has been confined to a stainless steel cage so we could monitor her for any possible prolapse, and to stop her from shyting all over every surface in the community outdoor cats house, and keep her as clean as possible, it isn’t easy. It is no life, and we have agreed she deserves this final, more drastic approach before we feel we must put an end to what can only be suffering. She seems done, she is ready you can see it in her eyes. I am praying that it can work, our vet is charging only $170, and is using one of his own personal cats for the donor, I will report back here good or bad, about what the results are, but I have read some very promising cases, and other than anesthesia, at this point it can’t possibly do her any worse.

    • Thanks for a great post although the story is very sad. I feel for her. I believe you can tell in the eyes of a cat when they have had enough. They tolerate pain well but eventually it shows in the eyes and demeanor. I think it is very tough to make the decision to euthanize under these circumstances. It is a difficult judgement to make.

      As this procedure is rare and as your post is unique to this site, I am going to publish it as an article today which I would like you to update with a comment after the transplantation has taken place. I hope that is okay with you. I believe your experience and that of your cat will be helpful to others and it needs to be highlighted.

      Comments are naturally somewhat hidden and read by less people.

    • Spruce Grouse says:

      Dear Chance4cats,

      We are in the same boat and desperate. How did it go? Did it work?

      I don’t know a vet who will do this, and was thinking of doing it myself.

    • Zen says:

      Hi. I would like to know the outcome of this procedure on your cat. Did it help? What kind of progress are you seeing?

      Hoped it has helped your cat.

      • Michael Broad says:

        Zen, I’d like to know too. This is a rare procedure as far as I know and it would be nice to see how successful it was. They have no reported back to this site. I’ll see if I can contact them.

  4. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Very interesting! I hadn’t heard of this before. I think it will be a while before it becomes a common treatment but it’s good to have hope for the cats of the future suffering from IBD.

  5. kylee says:

    Interesting, I guess it is helpful for those that have cats with the problem.. Thanks for clarifying that for me Michael. πŸ™‚

  6. Caroline says:

    And, it is, I’m surmising, is FAR less expensive.

  7. Caroline says:

    Do you understand what I am saying, Michael? πŸ˜‰
    Reestablish the intestinal pre and pro-biotics in the gut, and all is well. I don’t give a rat’s ass [sorry!] about some fancy procedure that is far inferior to reestablishing the flora in the gut. Raw high-quality chicken, bones and all, NEVER-cooked, and a teaspoon or two of five-cultured yogurt will do the “trick.” Even plain kefir, which usually will contain at least ten supportive culture strains will do our immune-deprived, IBD cat a world of good!

    • Yes, I agree that the best raw food diet will probably prevent most cases of feline IBD which tells us a lot about how bad the average cat food is. Thanks Cal.

      • Achance4cats says:

        What are your thoughts on immune compromised cats, specifically FIV? I am afraid of the e coli and other bacteria’s that are usually overcome by the normal cat, but can they cause illness in cats who do not have as much “fight” in their systems? I also posted on another of our cats undergoing a fecal transplantation on this Wednesday. Thank you

        • I am not sure because I am not a vet or scientist but I think you are correct in saying that in FIV cats gut bacteria like e coli (some of e coli is harmless but some types are harmful) can cause illness and worsen further the cat’s immune response and allow secondary diseases to take hold.

          I haven’t read your fecal transplantation post yet. That will very much interest me.

    • Linda says:

      Caroline, I tried this. It doesn’t “do the trick.” It makes sense to me that some microbes in the feline gut do not necessarily exist in food – and even if they did, the stomach acids will break them down before they get to the gut. That’s why they use “poop pills” when treating c-diff in humans – the coating on the pill helps the bacteria get to the proper place in the gut. You can’t fix this problem with a diet. It’s either a special pill coating or an enema. That’s the only way to get the right bacteria to the gut.

  8. Caroline says:

    Oh, yes. Again, the plain Greek yogurt, which most cats will take from your spoon, if offered.

  9. Caroline says:

    Plaque and removal thereof has been problematic for a long time. I have seen dogs cats die from not just the anaesthesiology administered, but also from the bacteria being swallowed from saliva into the stomach. When an antibiotic is administered, the good gut flora/bacteria is decimated/destroyed and the bad bacteria then flourish. The beloved pet may die. I’ve seen this happen.

    Again, this is why raw chicken including the noncooked bones can benefit your cat, supplemented with canned wet food and especially sardines and salmon from a trusted source. I feed my cat Shrimp raw chicken thighs (sometimes also breast, because he prefers the taste over the gamier thighs –which I love πŸ˜‰ ) and thawed frozen salmon fillet and sardines packed in olive oil. You can reduce the tartar/plaque by adhering to this dietary regimen. I don’t know what else can be done, but I am certain that there are other natural solutions. -Cal

  10. Cindy Shepard says:

    • Thanks Cindy. Good to see it being done although I don’t think this means FMT is standard practice or anywhere near it but I could be wrong.

      Thanks again. I’ll make an amendment to the page.

      • Cindy Shepard says:

        You are right. It definitely is not standard treatment. In fact, that was the only thing I could find on FMT involving cats.

  11. Cindy Shepard says:

    I thought there had been some cases of feline fecal transplants. No?

  12. Cindy Shepard says:

    I read about this recently on the IBD page. I am interested because my one eyed boy has IBD along with stomatitis. Fortunately, the removal of his teeth eliminated his stomatitis issues and helped his IBD to where it seemed easier to control.

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