Gastritis in cats

Black cat on white background

Overview

  • Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach that causes vomiting and stomach pain.
  • Gastritis can be caused by many different conditions, some minor and some more serious.
  • Fortunately, most cases of gastritis clear up quickly with treatment from a vet.
  • Contact your vet if your cat has been vomiting and you are concerned.

General information

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach, or in simple terms, a ‘stomach upset’.

Symptoms

Symptoms of gastritis include:

Illustration of cat stomach

Gastritis (irritation of the stomach) causes vomiting and stomach pain

Causes of gastritis in cats

It's not usually necessary to find the cause of gastritis because it's usually mild and clears a couple of days after treatment from a vet. However, it many be necessary to investigate if your cat doesn't get better quickly, or symptoms keep returning. Gastritis can be caused by:

  • A stomach infection (Helicobacter)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • A sudden change in food
  • Eating something unusual such as something spicy or fatty.
  • A medicine reaction
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Diabetes
  • Stomach ulcer (rare)
  • A stomach tumour (rare)

 

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for an urgent appointment if your cat has any of the severe symptoms listed below:

  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting constantly with no gaps in-between
  • A vomiting cat that is very young, old or otherwise poorly
  • Vomiting blood or black dots (like coffee grounds)

You may want to try to settle your cat’s stomach at home if they have only vomited once or twice and seem otherwise well. Feed very small, regular, bland meals (boiled chicken/white fish) and keep them indoors so you can monitor them. Contact your vet for an appointment if they don’t improve within 24 hours. Call your vet for advice if they continue vomiting or appear to be getting worse at any point.

Treatment

Treatment for gastritis often includes:

  • A bland diet to settle the stomach
  • Anti-sickness drugs to stop your cat feeling sick and vomiting.
  • Antacids to reduce excess stomach acid and settle the stomach.
  • Pain relief (if necessary).

If your cat doesn't improve, they may need to go into the veterinary hospital for investigations and treatment. This may include:

  • A drip to give fluids into the blood stream
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound scans
  • Endoscopy (flexible camera)

Antibiotics aren't often needed for cases of gastritis and can even cause harm by killing friendly gut bacteria.

Outlook

Fortunately, most cases of gastritis get better within one to two days of treatment.

Cost

Most cases of gastritis clear up quickly but some cases require investigations and treatment in a veterinary hospital, which can become expensive. Always speak openly with your vet about the cost of treatment and what you think is right for your cat, there is often more than one treatment option. We recommend insuring your cat as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start.

Published: June 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst