I’m not sure how common inflammatory bowel disease in cats is but my oldest boy, Gyula, was diagnosed with IBD in September of 2016. It has been a rough and long road for both of us; painful for him and expensive as well as heartbreaking for me. However, I am glad that all the issues with constipation, hiding in the basement drop ceiling and even the bullying have finally found the answer that I’ve been looking for. He still has his bad days but for the most part, he is back to his old self; curious, playful and cuddly. I suppose that this all started when Zoli joined the household.
The Start of It All
Zoli came to live with us when he was about 10 weeks old. When I took him to the vet we approximated that to be his age. Zoli came to us because there was somebody placing kittens around the neighborhood to get rid of them and Zoli climbed up my Dogwood tree. He sat there for a whole day until I could get my neighbor to help me get him down. He was very sick with a congested nose and goopy eyes. My intention was to only save him and bring him to the shelter, however, all my friends and family told me that I must keep Zoli as it was an omen. Cica had just passed away only a few months prior and Zoli had almost the exact same markings as her. So I took the recommendations of my friends and family and Zoli joined the household.
As Zoli grew older, he became much more rambunctious and my older cats, Gyula and Feri, didn’t seem to like his playful nature too much. Zoli is very, very playful however he can be a little bit mean in that he play attacks. I don’t think he realizes how much his sharp little teeth hurt the other cats. Feri is pretty good at letting him know how far he’s gone but Gyula is very timid and doesn’t want to necessarily fight back. So because of this Gyula gets stressed out and runs and hides. Before Zoli had come to our household Gyula was fine and had no stomach problems at all. Once Zoli started getting older and this playfulness got more intense, Gyula started to show symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. I didn’t know it at the time and it took a long time before he got diagnosed.
The First Symptoms
Gyula started out just hiding from Zoli but eventually made his way down to the basement where he felt the safest. He learned how to crawl up into my drop ceiling and would hide there for hours and sometimes days. I didn’t know what was wrong with him or why he would do that. I figured it must be fear and stress from Zoli so I let him be. I was consistently bringing food and water to him so that he would stay nourished. He began using the bathroom in the drop ceiling and was very comfortable up there but it was very disheartening to me since I could not clean it properly. Not only was he hiding in the drop ceiling but he was also throwing up a lot. I knew something wasn’t right and took Gyula to the vet. He was getting sicker and I didn’t know what was wrong with him.
When I took him to the vet, the doctor told me he was constipated and I should begin giving him Miralax. I began a regimen with him and the medication. She also told me not to feed any chicken as this may be the cause. That is why I switched him to the Soulistic cat food. It took me months to figure out what worked for him. I tried a quarter teaspoon once a day. I tried half a teaspoon once a day. I tried quarter teaspoon in the morning and a half a teaspoon at night. So many combinations! It was very difficult to find the right mixture for him. Unfortunately, there was no exact combination that I could use and he eventually got impacted.
Gyula Needed Surgery
Gyula needed to go to the vet for an extraction. When the vet did the extraction she initially tried an enema which did not help him. Then she tried a second enema which also didn’t help him. It wasn’t until she sedated him to do the extraction that he relaxed his muscles enabling the enema to do its job. However, she did still have to get have to get out a couple of pieces that the enema couldn’t help with. This all cost me an arm and a leg and I could tell that Gyula was in complete trauma over it. He was given a prescription of lactulose but the vet told me that this is only a short-term fix for him. I had to continue the Miralax for him and only use the lactulose when things were dire. Unfortunately, this extraction didn’t last long.
A few months later I could tell the Gyula still wasn’t feeling well as he was still up in the drop ceiling and not coming down very much at all. This is when I began to notice that he was afraid of Zoli as well as the litter box. I suppose he associated the litter box with pain. You see Gyula is the type of cat that when he poops he needs to run afterward. This startles Zoli a bit and he wants to chase after him because he thinks Gyula is playing. Zoli will attack Gyula without the intention of actually attacking; more so just playing. However, Gyula doesn’t like this and he retreats to the basement each time. Unintentionally, Gyula’s time in the basement was going to go on a bit longer.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
In the beginning of August 2016, I had been injured. I had torn my calf muscle at work and I was out of work for seven weeks. I suppose that I wasn’t really paying attention to Gyula’s needs because I was in so much pain and could not walk but I was still trying to do my best for him. Once I was starting to heal, I noticed one day that when Gyula would try to poop, only a tiny little bit of diarrhea would come out. I knew instinctively that this is a sign of megacolon and I once again jumped on the internet in order to research the symptoms just to be sure. I called the vet and made an appointment. While I was researching the symptoms, I found a type of food that may help megacolon.
So we went to the vet and to my astonishment Gyula was not impacted at all and he did not have megacolon! I was actually giving him too much Miralax which had pretty much emptied him out. I still asked the vet about the food since we were still having constipation issues. The doctor gave the okay to go ahead and said that he heard other patients had very good success with this food and it wouldn’t hurt to try it. It was at this time we figured out that he also had the inflammatory bowel disease. The Miralax helped his constipation but he still had pain in his tummy. Now mind you, the vet that I go to is a group and the initial doctor that I had been talking to was a young girl and may not have thought of all the symptoms and the signs. Sometimes you have to go through different things in order to find the actual problem and do a bit of research and suggesting of your own. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make suggestions to your vet. The doctor on this particular day was a veteran in the field and we actually thought on the same wavelength.
The Miracle Food
So the food that I recommend and asked the doctor about was Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Fiber Response. You can read my review here but this story is also quite a testimonial. Gyula has been on this food for just about a year now. Initially, I didn’t see much of a change in his behavior however his bowel movements had changed greatly. He had a much easier time using the bathroom and he was even using the litter box again. His poop was no longer hard balls, it was a normal amount and he wasn’t straining. It did take quite a few months, I would say between six and eight months, for it to start helping his tummy. It is probably since his tummy had 6 years of inflammatory bowel disease with no relief.
Gyula started to come upstairs from the basement on his own and I was shocked. He was playing more, he was cuddling with me, and he was sleeping in the bed again which was amazing. This food worked wonders for him! The food actually contains a prebiotic which I believe helped his tummy a lot. He still has his bouts of constipation (but nowhere near as severe) and is still on the Miralax. He gets about a quarter of a teaspoon a day because he does prefer wet food. He won’t always eat the dry which the Royal Canin is. So in order for him to eat, I have to give him the wet food. If he ever ends up downstairs with a nasty bout of constipation, I only give him the dry food so that he is forced to eat that. There are times when he is feeling well and I still won’t give him wet food even though he wants it. I won’t give it to him because he needs to eat the crunchies (as we call the dry food).
A Year Later
Gyula is still afraid of Zoli but will now run past him as long as I’m there. He’ll stay upstairs until I get home from work and he handles Zoli a bit more now that he feels so much better. I realized that he was so afraid of Zoli because he didn’t feel well at all. Now that he feels better, I think his fear of Zoli has subsided a little bit although he still doesn’t like it when Zoli runs after him. Zoli is older now, he’s five, and he doesn’t play as much as he used to when he was younger so that has helped too.
Gyula still has some bad days but that is only if I don’t focus on his medication, which I admit, I do lack in that department at times. However, I’m getting a lot better and I make sure that he gets his Miralax and has his crunchies is available to him. In actuality, all the cats eat that particular food and I’ve noticed a huge difference in all their litter box movements. I do mix there’s with another non-prescription cat food and they seem to enjoy both equally. Although the prescription cat food is a bit expensive, it is much less expensive than having to go to the vet all the time for his IBD and constipation.
Happy Ending & A New Beginning
Gyula has become a happy, healthy, young little cat again even though he’s 10 years old. He is back to his old self as when I got him. His coat is super soft and is no longer shedding as much as it used to. He’s interactive, he sits in the window and gazes that birds, and even at times wants to go outside. He doesn’t throw up anymore as he used to when his tummy was bothering him. I am so happy that we have finally found the cause and the disease that has had Gyula in so much pain for so many years. I only wish that I had figured this out earlier so that it wouldn’t have taken so long for him to get better.
Hopefully, this story has helped you with your cat’s symptoms. Inflammatory bowel disease in cats is not easy for a pet owner to notice. I had no idea that Gyula was so sick and feel horrible that it went on for so long. If you notice any similarities in your cat’s behavior, it doesn’t hurt to ask your vet about the disease and prescription food. Check my review of Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Fiber Response to learn more about the ingredients, how it works and the cheapest place to buy this food. Also, please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or remarks.