Gastritis in cats

Black cat on white background

Overview

Gastritis is a term used to describe irritation of the stomach, which causes symptoms such as vomiting and stomach pain.

There are many different causes of gastritis, some minor and some more serious. Gastritis usually resolves one to two days after treatment, however, some conditions (e.g. food allergies, kidney or liver disease) cause gastritis that comes and goes.

Contact your vet if your cat has been vomiting and you are concerned.

Symptoms

Symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dribbling or excessive swallowing (signs of feeling sick)
  • Painful stomach (looking hunched, crying or swiping when picked up or their tummy is touched)
  • Low energy (lethargy)
  • Eating less than usual
  • Hiding away.
Illustration of cat stomach

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

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet if your cat is showing and of the symptoms above or any of the more urgent symptoms listed below:

  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting constantly with no gaps in-between
  • Vomiting and is very young, very old or has other illnesses
  • Vomiting blood or black dots (like coffee grounds).

You know your cat best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Treatment

Gastritis often responds very quickly to medical treatment. Your vet may suggest some of the following:

Anti-sickness drugs

Anti-sickness medicines are very good at stopping your cat feeling sick and vomiting.

Antacids

Antacids can help settle and protect your cat’s stomach by reducing acid.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are rarely needed. They aren’t always helpful and in can even harm the natural bacteria in your cat’s guts.

Bland diet

A bland diet may help settle your cat’s stomach – speak to your vet about what’s best to feed your cat.

Outlook

Gastritis usually gets better within one to two days of treatment. If your cat isn’t getting any better or gets worse at any point, your vet may decide to admit them into the veterinary hospital for investigations and more intensive treatment. This might include:

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

Causes of gastritis in cats

Common causes of gastritis in cats include:

  • A stomach infection (Helicobacter)
  • Eating something unusual that irritates the stomach (something spicy or very fatty for example)
  • A medicine reaction
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • A sudden change in food.

It’s not common we find the cause of gastritis in cats. Mild cases usually get better quickly with treatment, so it’s not often necessary to look for the cause.

If your cat has gastritis that doesn’t get better or keeps returning, your vet might want to look into what’s causing it.

Published: August 2018

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Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst