How to Treat Cats Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Naturally

Jan 25, 2024by Suzie Cyrenne

Knowing how to treat IBS in cats naturally is a plus if your feline best friend is prone to health issues affecting the digestive tract.

It is also very helpful to be familiar with the natural remedies used for irritable bowel syndrome if you've got a cat whose immune system or gastrointestinal tract may be experiencing a decline due to certain risk factors.

In this blog post, we are not just going to discuss the natural options you can go for when it comes to dealing with your cat's IBS naturally. We will also go over the most common IBS symptoms, their possible triggers, as well as other relevant pieces of information about this health issue that affects your cat's digestive tract.

Let's start things off by having a detailed discussion on what cat IBS is and why pet parents should know how to properly deal with this health issue as soon as possible.


What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in Cats?

Feline irritable bowel syndrome is basically a condition characterized by sudden distress in a cat's gastrointestinal tract. What's alarming about IBS in cats is that it can get in the picture without a warning.

Besides having unexpected issues involving the GI tract such as a digestive upset, which includes cramping, or experiencing constipation or diarrhea, most cats also go through other uncomfortable symptoms.

We will go through the most common signs of irritable bowel syndrome in felines as we go along.

This is why knowing how to deal with a cat's IBS naturally should be on your home pet care checklist. Knowing which natural remedy to go for during IBS flare-ups not only helps ease a distressed intestinal tract but maintains your kitty's quality of life during this condition as well.

Moreover, boosting your cat's overall immune system health should also be a priority since not keeping IBS in cats in check can possibly make your kitty vulnerable to other types of disease and illness sooner or later.

Is IBS in cats the same as inflammatory bowel disease or feline IBD?

The short answer is no.

Although some pet parents mistakenly use the terms feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in cats interchangeably, these health issues are separate and distinct from each other.

Key differences between feline IBD and IBS

As to the effect, IBD in cats is chronic and may be experienced by your pet in the long term. Irritable bowel syndrome in felines, however, has a more sudden effect and may go away after just one or two episodes with the proper and immediate attention.

As to areas affected, irritable bowel disease is often characterized by the chronic presence of inflammatory cells in the digestive tract. These inflammatory cells infiltrate the small intestine and large intestine, irritate their mucosal linings, and disrupt the production of digestive enzymes. Unwanted plasma cells invading the said areas can have the same effect as well.

They can also disturb the populations of healthy gut flora or beneficial bacteria. Intestinal parasites may also be involved in some instances of cat IBD.

On the other hand, feline irritable bowel syndrome affects the whole digestive system or GI tract and not just parts of it. Its effects are not just isolated in a cat's stomach or the small and large intestines, but the entirety of the digestive tract.

Quick tip

One important thing to keep in mind is that if it is a condition that involves parts of the digestive tract being chronically irritated or having chronic inflammation, it is irritable bowel syndrome in cats. However, if it pertains to sudden distress of the whole GI tract, then it is feline IBS.

Notwithstanding these factors, a definitive diagnosis is still required to be able to appropriately plan out your next steps, particularly the treatment options to go for. Proceeding to treat either IBS or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) absent a proper diagnosis is also counterproductive and may even make the whole thing worse.

We'd just like to emphasize as early as now, though, that neglecting to promptly deal with the effects of irritable bowel syndrome in cats may lead to long-term issues with your kitty's health like chronic diarrhea.

Simply knowing which natural remedies or herbal remedies to use will already make a big difference.


What are the Risk Factors That Make Cats Vulnerable to Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Akin to other health problems that your cat may be susceptible to, there are certain risk factors that are believed to be associated with feline irritable bowel syndrome. Why don't we have a quick overview of what these are for this part of our discussion?

Age and overall immune system

Older cats are thought to be more vulnerable to IBS due to the decline in their immune system health during their senior years. Their natural immune responses may not be that quick to react anymore, making them more prone to wellness issues.

Enhancing your cat's immune system as early as possible is definitely an advantage when it comes to being more resilient against several diseases and illnessesand not just keeping clear from cat IBS.

Shift in a cat's diet

In some cases of feline IBS, the food diet your kitty is regularly loading up on may have a hand in triggering the same. Some commercial pet foods may contain ingredients that can either result in the onset of food sensitivities or negatively affect the beneficial bacterial populations in the GI tract.

Abundant numbers of healthy bacteria in your cat's digestive system not just aid digestion, but also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Similarly, other foods like treats and snacks can also be potential culprits. A hypoallergenic food trial may be needed in some felines.

Disrupted colon function

The colon works by filtering out nutrients and water from almost completely digested food. This function may be disrupted in one way or another when the colon is too soft or too rigid. One very crucial thing to remember about abnormal colon function is that there is a small yet still possible risk of the development of intestinal lymphoma if it is continually ignored.

Extreme levels of stress or anxiety

When your cat is going through a lot of stress or anxiety, his body either produces too much or too little hormones like ghrelin and bombesin that are required for the digestive tract to work ideally. One possible type of anxiety that can result in IBS in cats is separation anxiety.

Environmental factors

Another possible trigger of irritable bowel syndrome is the drastic change in a cat's environment or surroundings. This may be due to constant traveling, moving to a new home, losing or gaining new family members, or perhaps poor management of basic necessities like the litter box.

An outdoor cat may become extremely stressed if he is suddenly kept indoors. Likewise, an exclusively indoor cat may experience anxiety if he is abruptly exposed to an outdoor environment.

Moreover, exposure to harmful chemicals and substances like pipe cleaners, antifreeze, harsh detergents, emissions from vapes, and cigarette smoke are also theorized to have a link with this health problem.

Underlying health issues

Some cats can also become prone to feline IBS if they have gone through a previous injury or trauma. While there is still no singular reason why this is so, it is believed that this may have to do with cats naturally "coping" but with unforeseen detrimental effects on their physiological functions.


What are the Symptoms of IBS in Cats?

cat taking a rest by the window

The tricky thing about irritable bowel syndrome is that a cat's symptoms may be rather similar to some other digestive health issues (like diarrhea). However, it is important to remember not to leave out the possibility that your pet has IBS if the following indicators are present:

  • Upset stomach

  • Decreased appetite

  • Poor digestion

  • Bloody stools

  • Unexpected weight loss

  • Persistent or even chronic vomiting

Additionally, it is not uncommon that you will see your cat lethargic and seemingly lacking his usual energy during an irritable bowel syndrome episode. This lethargy may even become more pronounced if it involves inflammatory lymphocytes.

While most pet parents will immediately resort to conventional veterinary medicine like immunosuppressive drugs to relieve symptoms of cat IBS, these can have adverse effects on the bone marrow, specifically in the production of red blood cells and white blood cells.

Like we've emphasized earlier, you can also use natural remedies to effectively treat IBS in felines.


What May Aggravate Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats?

Two cats posing for camera

Given that cat IBS generally affects the digestive tract, it may be aggravated by certain foods and beverages. These include those that contain high acidic or fat content, as well as dairy in some felines. It is highly recommended that you go for low-residue foods if your pet is diagnosed with this health issue.

Apart from having ingredients that are easier to digest, low-residue foods are also formulated to be quickly absorbed by a cat's body. They are usually resorted to in instances where there is sudden or unexplained weight loss.


How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Cats Diagnosed?

kitten taking a rest

As we've previously highlighted, a proper diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome in cats is needed to effectively deal with the same. Below you will find the usual procedures or factors that are used or checked when a cat is being tested for IBS:

  • Review of relevant medical history

  • Thorough physical examination

  • Abdominal ultrasound or X-rays

  • Baseline blood work

  • Serologic testing (this is also used for determining FIV and FeLV)

  • Urinalysis

  • Similar diagnostic tests to exclude the possibility of other conditions

While we advocate for the use of natural remedies and homeopathic treatments in keeping your pet as healthy and happy as can be, it is crucial to take note that these tests or procedures must only be conducted by a veterinary medical professional at all times.


Is Feline Irritable Bowel Syndrome Permanent?

close up of a cat

The short answer is it depends.

If you notice a cat's symptoms of IBS in a timely manner and provide immediate treatment, there is a high chance that flare-ups and episodes will go away soon. However, this health condition shall have a more "long-term" effect if there is a lack of a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment is delayed.

Just to reiterate, the problem with conventional medicines for irritable bowel syndrome in cats is that they can result in adverse side effects. This is the biggest reason why going for natural remedies for IBS can be deemed as a more practical strategy.


How to Treat IBS in Cats Naturally

sleeping kittens on the floor

Although this may sound surprising, there are actually natural ways to deal with feline irritable bowel syndrome. However, it is extremely important that you consult with a pet homeopathy expert or a vet with respect to your cat's condition to really ensure positive results.

#1. Modify your cat's diet accordingly.

The most straightforward way to support your cat when he is having trouble with IBS is by changing his diet for the better. Do away with options that are high in fat and instead go for choices that are loaded with fiber and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Integrating vegetables like green beans, carrots, zucchini, and broccoli into your cat's diet also adds an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, as well as provides an anti-inflammatory effect while at it. Duck, venison, and rabbit-based cat food formulations also seem to work really nicely with respect to irritable bowel syndrome in felines.

(You can also find out more about the best foods that dogs can and cannot eat when you click here).

#2. Improve your cat's beneficial gut bacteria population.

attentive cat on outdoors

Having abundant beneficial bacterial populations in your cat's digestive tract not only helps keep the breaking down of food and absorption of nutrients ideal, but also ensures that the same shall be protected against disease and illness in the process.

One hassle-free way of doing this is by getting your hands on probiotics that are specifically formulated for pets, such as PROBIOPET.

#3. Introduce a regular workout routine.

One really interesting fact about regular exercise in cats is that besides helping your kitty stay in tiptop shape, it also helps get rid of stress and anxiety. This is because having a consistent pet workout encourages the release of hormones like endorphins and dopamine in your cat's body.

Other benefits of giving your cat regular exercise also include keeping blood pressure and glucose levels ideal and helping him steer clear of health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease in the long run.

(Click here to discover some simple ideas on how to start giving your kitty a workout.)

#4. Be proactive when you notice the symptoms of cat IBS.

Always keep an eye on any sudden changes as regards your pet's behavior and routine. Should you notice any, make it a point to discern if these could have anything to do with irritable bowel syndrome in cats.

It is crucial to keep in mind not to pass over any symptoms, especially if they are connected to your kitty's digestive tract or gastrointestinal system. Make sure you schedule an appointment with a pet wellness expert or a vet as soon as possible so you can strategize the best course of action with respect to the same immediately.


One of the Most Convenient Natural Remedies for IBS in Cats You Can Go For

kitten lying on the floor

Zumalka's TUMMYPET is designed to deal with problems affecting your cat's gastrointestinal system, such as digestive upsets and gastric irritations. Besides being made from high-quality ingredients, this premium natural product is also formulated to help maintain your pet's overall immune system health so it won't be an easy target for other diseases and illnesses.

Given that TUMMYPET only contains natural components, you are guaranteed that your beloved pet will not be subjected to adverse side effects compared to conventional veterinary medicines. This holistic product has already helped a lot of pet parents worldwide and is one option you should consider including in your home cat care checklist.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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