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How To Know When To Euthanize A Cat With IBD?

How To Know When To Euthanize A Cat With IBD?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a disorder of the cat’s gastrointestinal tract that is characterized by abnormal digestion, food absorption, and cellular infiltration within the structure of the stomach and intestine.

This disease usually affects middle-aged felines, but it’s also possible to occur in cats less than 2 years old.

Some of the most common signs of IBD are weight loss, chronic diarrhea and vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Unfortunately, in some cases, this disease will significantly impair the cat’s quality of life and the owner will have to decide on euthanasia. 

This is the most difficult decision a pet owner has to make, but sometimes it may simply be the only option.

Let’s see what signs might indicate that you should euthanize a cat with IBD.

In What Cases Is Euthanasia The Best Option?

sick cat at the vet

Before we get into the issue, I just want to emphasize that you shouldn’t feel like you’re giving up on your cat – if she has a severe form of IBD, euthanasia might simply be the only option.

Some diseases will ruin a cat’s life so much that it will be pointless to prolong her agony. As the World Society for the Protection of Animals [1] suggests, euthanasia is both acceptable and necessary when an animal is suffering from an incurable illness or injury.

These are the signs that a cat with IBD should be euthanized:

• If the biopsy has confirmed a diagnosis of severe IBD

• If a cat isn’t responding to any treatment

• If a cat is too old to endure the treatment

• If a cat isn’t able to eat any food

• If a cat suffers from urinary or fecal incontinence that doesn’t seem to be treatable

Of course, your veterinarian will also give his honest opinion on the best option for your cat.

It might be hard to admit this, but a cat with this type of symptoms is suffering and, unfortunately, there’s probably nothing more you can do to help her feel better.

As pet parents, together with all the beautiful moments, we should also be ready to say goodbye in a situation where there is no other way out.

See Also: Will My Cat Forgive Me For Putting Her To Sleep?

Specifics Of The Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Cats

sick scottish cat

Not all cats with Inflammatory Bowel Disease will have the same diagnosis. 

This will depend on the causes of this disorder, as well as the possible treatment option for each cat. 

The first important thing is to determine what exactly is causing IBD in your cat.

What Causes IBD?

There is not a single cause of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in felines. Actually, this disease appears as the consequence of several factors, according to College Street Animal Hospital [2]. 

These factors are the following:

• Medication reactions

• Genetic susceptibility

• Dietary factors

• Parasites in the cat’s gastrointestinal tract

• Bacterial infections in the cat’s gastrointestinal tract

In very rare cases, this disease can even progress to GI tract cancer. 

What Are The Symptoms Of IBD?

cat vomiting on the floor

The most common symptoms are chronic vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, increased gas, and bloody stool. Learn more in our cat poop color chart.

Since these symptoms are similar to many other health problems in felines, the best thing to do is to contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice them in your cat.

You need to be sure to give exact explanations on your cat’s diet habits, as well as the frequency and consistency of her stool, her behavior lately, and all the other changes, if you have noticed any.

Is Treatment Possible?

VCA Animal Hospitals suggest that the best way to treat IBD in cats is to diagnose the exact trigger of this condition. 

So, some cats will need deworming, while for others, a change in diet will work. Some might need immunosuppressive medications to suppress the inflammatory reaction.

How Does The IBD Diagnosis Affect A Cat’s Life?

In most cases, a cat could have a mild form of IBD disease, which will not seriously affect her quality of life.

However, it’s also possible for this disease to be serious, even life-threatening for felines. 

Chances for recovery might depend on the underlying cause of this condition, secondary complications, and a cat’s response to medications.

The most important thing is to monitor the cat’s state, and to do everything your veterinarian suggests.

Since IBD can be a permanent disease, it can be said that, sometimes, this disease can drastically affect a cat’s quality of life.

How Long Do Cats With IBD Might Live?

sad and sick cat lying

This will depend on how severe a cat’s diagnosis is.

Some felines with IBD might live long; If the vet sets them a diagnosis on time, and if they respond well to the treatment.

Unfortunately, some cats will not be so lucky. Their prognosis might be so bad that they might have a couple of weeks, or even days to live.

This is the thing with IBD – sometimes we can keep it under control, and sometimes it might be fatal for our pets.

How Should You Act If Euthanasia Is The Only Option?

You should be by your cat’s side in her final days.

Make her feel as comfortable as possible. Take care of her and find her a nice, warm place where she will have all the peace she needs.

Remember that you’re your cat’s favorite person and that you’re able to make her feel safe and protected, even in these moments.

Your way of dealing with this situation will also depend on your cat’s special needs. You might find some useful information in our article on should you leave your dying cat alone.

Final Words

Sick cat under the dropper

So, what’s the final verdict on when to euthanize a cat with IBD?

If the treatment is simply not working for your cat, if she’s at an advanced age, and if her quality of life is severely affected by this condition, it’s time you consider saying goodbye.

This is a complex decision, and you should consult your vet on the best option. Just remember that you and your cat had such a wonderful time together, and that letting go is sometimes the best thing you can do.


[1] World Society for the Protection of Animals: Methods for the euthanasia

of dogs and cats: comparison and recommendations. DOI, Retrieved May 17, 2023.
[2[ College Street Animal Hospital: Inflammatory Bowel Disease. DOI, Retrieved May 17, 2023.