If your feline friend is having litterbox troubles and other causes have been ruled out, your cat might be suffering from an uncommon disease called histiocytic ulcerative colitis. Today, our Long Island vet specialists talk more about the disease including how it is diagnosed and treatment options.
What Is Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis In Cats?
Histiocytes are large white blood cells that are located in healthy connective tissue, where they destroy infectious organisms and potentially harmful particles. This makes them an essential part of your cat's immune system.
Histiocytic ulcerative colitis is a disease uncommonly seen in felines that causes ulcers to form in the colon lining, along with inflammation and gastrointestinal (GI) distress, with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) positive histiocytes.
Although the cause of the disease is unknown, the assumption is that the underlying cause is infectious in nature. There is also a possibility that the disorder has a genetic link, but there is no definitive answer yet.
Symptoms Of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis In Cats
- Tenesmus (feeling the need to defecate)
- Bloody diarrhea with mucus, increasing in urgency and frequency of passing stool
- In more advanced, severe cases, the cat could lose weight and experience weakness
Causes of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis
Causes or predisposing factors that would leave a cat more susceptible to ulcerative colitis are unknown.
Diagnosis of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis
Diagnosis of histiocytic ulcerative colitis is a form of specialized veterinary internal medicine. Our vets in Long Island can provide experienced diagnoses and treatments for a range of internal conditions in cats and dogs, from problems with the immune system to neurological issues and tumors.
Your vet may use differential diagnosis to take your cat's symptoms into account, with the goal of ruling out more common causes such as non-histiocytic IBD, parasitic colitis, allergic colitis and infectious colitis. Once the correct disorder can be identified, the appropriate treatment can begin.
Other possible diagnoses include:
- Ileocolic intussusception ( one part of the bowel passes into the next one)
- Rectocolonic polyps
- Neoplasia, e.g. lymphoma or adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer that starts in a gland)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Foreign body in bowel
Differentiation can be made by scrutinizing bacterial culture to identify the presence of pathogens; direct smears; fecal flotations; colonoscopy with biopsy; and abdominal imaging. During a colonoscopy of your cat's intestines, it could show tiny, patchy red areas (pinpoint ulcerations), the presence of granulation tissue, overt ulceration, narrowing of the intestine or thick mucosal folds. Other issues such as a rectal polyp or malignant neoplasm, the symptoms of which can be very similar to those of chronic colitis.
To obtain a diagnosis, it is likely that multiple biopsy specimens will need to be acquired.
If your cat's internal condition can't be definitely identified, your veterinarian might refer you to an internal medicine veterinary specialist. In addition to providing advanced testing and diagnoses, your vet specialist will work with your primary vet team to ensure that your cat receives the care that they deserve.
Treating & Managing Your Cat's Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis can be treated on an outpatient basis, meaning your cat doesn't have to stay at a vet clinic or animal hospital for their treatment. Your veterinarian could recommend integrating fiber supplements that can be fermented by the gut into your cat's diet to manage the disease. They can also provide advice on your cat's potential for progression or recurrence of the disease, and prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and antimicrobials ive disease and recurrence. Anti-inflammatory drugs and antimicrobials may be prescribed.
Your pet's weight and clinical signs of the condition should be monitored every 1 – 2 weeks, initially. Depending on the outcome of this monitoring, your cat may require ongoing antibiotic therapy.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.