Histiocytic ulcerative colitis is a rare disease that can affect a cat's immune system. In this post, our vets in Orlando explain types and symptoms of the disease, plus diagnosis and potential treatment options.
Blood Cells & Your Cat's Immune System
Large white blood cells called histiocytes reside in the connective tissue in your cat's body. These cells are a vital element of the immune system, as they ingest foreign particles and infectious microorganisms.
Histiocytic ulcerative colitis is a rare but severe inflammatory disease that's marked by ulcers in the lining of the colon and inflammation with periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) positive histiocytes.
The most common clinical sign of colitis is large bowel diarrhea that may include pain when defecating. While we don't know how this disorder originates, it's assumed that there's a link to an infectious cause. Histiocytic ulcerative colitis may also have a possible genetic basis, however, the cause is unknown.
Types & Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis in Cats
- Tenesmus (a feeling of needing to defecate)
- Bloody, mucoid diarrhea with increasing urgency and frequency of defecation
- Later in the disease process, a cat may lose weight and become debilitated (severe cases)
Causes of Ulcerative Colitis
Causes or predisposing factors that would leave a cat more susceptible to ulcerative colitis are unknown.
Diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis
Treatment of histiocytic ulcerative colitis in cats falls under veterinary internal medicine. Our vets in Orlando are here to provide experienced diagnosis and treatment of a range of internal conditions in cats and dogs, from problems with the immune system to neurological issues and tumors.
We have access to a range of diagnostic tools and treatment methods to treat even challenging cases, and are able to manage patients with multiple diseases or disorders.
Your vet may use differential diagnosis to take your cat's symptoms into account and run tests to rule out more common causes such as non-histiocytic IBD, parasitic colitis, allergic colitis and infectious colitis until the correct disorder can be identified and appropriately treated.
Other possible diagnoses include:
- Ileocolic intussusception (where one part of the bowel passes into the next one)
- Rectocolonic polyps
- Neoplasia (such as lymphoma or adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer that starts in a gland)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Foreign body
Differentiation can be made by examining bacterial culture for pathogens, direct smears, fecal flotations, colonoscopy with biopsy and abdominal imaging. When a colonoscopy of the intestines is done, it may reveal patchy red foci (pinpoint ulcerations), areas of granulation tissue, overt ulceration, narrowing of the intestine or thick mucosal folds. A thorough rectal exam may result in your vet discovering a rectal polyp or malignant neoplasm that can mimic the signs of chronic colitis.
To obtain a diagnosis, multiple biopsy specimens will be required.
If diagnosis of your cat's internal condition cannot be definitively made, you may be referred to a board-certified internal medicine veterinary specialist near Orlando for further testing.
Treating, Living With & Managing Your Cat's Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis can be treated on an outpatient basis. Your veterinarian may recommend integrating moderately fermentable fiber supplementation into your cat's diet to manage the disease. He or she can also provide advice on your cat's potential for progressive disease and recurrence. Anti-inflammatory drugs and antimicrobials may be prescribed.
Body weight and clinical signs of the disease should initially be monitored every one or two weeks. 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.