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Pathology key points

Gastoinstestinal disorders (vomiting – diarrhea/constipation) are common in cats (2-10%) and one of the main reasons for consultation1.2

These disorders can have different origins3.4:

  • Gastrointestinal (e.g. dietary hypersensitivity/intolerance, digestive infections, inflammatory disorders, neoplasia, obstructions, mobility/mechanical disorders, antibiotic resistant diarrheas, degenerative/congenital)
  • Non gastro-intestinal abdominal (disorder of other abdominal organ – e.g. liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas – peritoneal neoplasia or peritonitis)
  • Systemic (metabolic disorders - e.g. uremia, ketoacidosis, hepatic encephalopathy, hypoadrenocorticism or electrolyte disorder - drug or toxic-induced)
  • Neurological (trauma or neurological and vestibular disorder or infection)
  • Neuromuscular/anal (if constipation).
  • Miscellaneous (uncommon infections, stress, hematological or cardiac)

Risk factors include an alteration of intestinal microbiota with diet or drugs5


  • Clinical examination and history
  • Blood cell count, biochemistry, endocrine testing, serology
  • Urinalysis/fecal analysis
  • Imaging, cytology/histopathology 
  1. Hill PB et al. Survey of the prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of dermatological conditions in small animals in general practice. Vet Rec. 2006; 158(16):533-9.
  2. O'Neill DG, Church DB, McGreevy PD, Thomson PC, Brodbelt DC. Prevalence of disorders recorded in cats attending primary-care veterinary practices in England. Vet J. 2014;202(2):286-91.
  3. Rosé A, Neiger R. Causes of vomiting in dogs and usefulness of clinical investigations. Tierarztl Prax Ausg K Kleintiere Heimtiere. 2013; 41(1):16-22.
  4. Gough A. Differential diagnosis in small animal medicine. Blackwell publishing 2007; p26-31
  5. Honneffer JB et al. Microbiota alterations in acute and chronic gastrointestinal inflammation of cats and dogs. World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 28;20(44):16489-97.