Objective: To determine whether a diagnosis of chronic small bowel disease could be established in a subset of cats that had clinical signs of chronic vomiting, chronic small bowel diarrhea, weight loss, or a combination of these, combined with ultrasonographically determined thickening of the small bowel.
Design: Retrospective case series.
Animals: 100 client-owned domestic cats.
Procedures: Medical records of cats with clinical signs of chronic vomiting, chronic small bowel diarrhea, weight loss, or a combination of these, combined with ultrasonographically determined small bowel thickening, that underwent laparotomy and multiple small bowel biopsies between 2008 and 2012 were examined. Biopsy specimens were submitted for histologic evaluation, immunohistochemical evaluation, and, when findings were ambiguous, PCR assay for antigen receptor rearrangement.
Results: Chronic small bowel disease was diagnosed in 99 of the 100 cats. The most common diagnoses were chronic enteritis and intestinal lymphoma.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Results suggested that cats with clinical signs of chronic small bowel disease should undergo detailed diagnostic testing because they are likely to have clinically important, diagnosable, treatable disease. Clinical signs of small bowel disease, especially weight loss and chronic or recurrent vomiting, are extremely common in cats. These signs should not be considered a normal condition and should not be ignored, regardless of common explanations given by owners, and cats with these signs should undergo appropriate diagnostic testing.