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Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis & Treatment for Cats

Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis & Treatment for Cats

When other common causes are ruled out, but litterbox trouble persists, it could be a sign that your cat is suffering from histiocytic ulcerative colitis. Our Santa Clarita vets explain how this rare condition in cats can be diagnosed and treated.

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 rare condition seen in cats that causes ulcers to form in the colon lining, along with inflammation and gastrointestinal (GI) distress, with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) positive histiocytes.

Signs That Your Cat May Have Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis

Cats suffering from histiocytic ulcerative colitis may show one or more of the following symptoms:

  • 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

If your cat has any of the symptoms listed above it is essential to contact your vet. If your primary care veterinarian is unable to diagnose your cat's condition a referral to a veterinary specialist for advanced diagnostics and treatment is your next step.

Causes of Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis

Causes or predisposing factors that would leave a cat more susceptible to ulcerative colitis are largely unknown. However it is believed that the underlying cause may be infectious in nature, and there also appears to be a genetic link,.

That said, there is no definitive answer as of yet.

How Vets Diagnose Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis in Cats

Diagnosis of histiocytic ulcerative colitis is a form of specialized veterinary internal medicine. Our vets at Valencia Veterinary Center 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, or search and rescue advice for pets.

If your cat is experiencing litterbox problems contact us to schedule an examination for your feline friend.

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