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Diarrhea in cats refers to the frequent passing of loose or watery stools. It is a common problem in cats and can be caused by various factors. Here are some additional details about diarrhea in cats. Diarrhea in cats is a common symptom of many diseases, and it is never normal. The causes range from harmless to deadly. Kittens, senior cats, cats with chronic disease, and pregnant cats are all at increased risk of death-related to complications from untreated diarrhea.
If diarrhea is not self-resolving within a 24-hour period, especially in these populations, you should seek out veterinary care.
Diarrhea Causes & Symptoms In Cats
- Dietary factors: Sudden changes in diet, spoiled or inappropriate food consumption, or food intolerances/allergies can lead to diarrhea.
- Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can cause diarrhea in cats. Common culprits include giardia, coccidia, salmonella, or feline panleukopenia virus.
- Medications: Some medications or antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the digestive system and result in diarrhea.
- Stress: Cats are susceptible to stress, and changes in their environment, routines, or introduction of new pets can cause gastrointestinal upset.
- Intestinal parasites: Worms, such as roundworms, hookworms, or tapeworms, can cause diarrhea in cats. Regular deworming is essential.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This condition involves chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to diarrhea.
- Pancreatic disorders: Conditions like pancreatitis can cause digestive issues, including diarrhea.
- Other health conditions: Certain medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, liver disease, or cancer can manifest as diarrhea in cats.
Symptoms: Besides loose or watery stools, other signs may accompany diarrhea in cats:
- Increased frequency of bowel movements.
- Straining or urgency during defecation.
- Blood or mucus in the stool.
- Loss of appetite.
- Lethargy or decreased activity.
- Weight loss.
When to See a Vet: If your cat has diarrhea, it is generally recommended to monitor their condition. However, you should consult a veterinarian if:
- The diarrhea persists for more than a day or two.
- Your cat appears lethargic, weak, or shows signs of dehydration.
- There is blood in the stool or other concerning symptoms.
- Your cat has a pre-existing health condition.
- Your cat is a young kitten or senior cat.
- The diarrhea is severe or accompanied by vomiting or loss of appetite.
A veterinarian will perform a physical examination, ask about your cat’s history, and may conduct additional tests like fecal analysis, bloodwork, or imaging to determine the underlying cause of the diarrhea. Treatment will depend on the specific diagnosis and may involve dietary changes, medication, fluid therapy, or other interventions.
Why Does My Cat Have Diarrhea?
There could be several reasons why your cat is experiencing diarrhea. Diarrhea in cats is a common symptom and can be caused by various factors, including:
- Dietary changes: Abrupt changes in your cat’s diet, such as switching to a new brand of food or introducing new types of food, can lead to digestive upset and diarrhea.
- Food intolerance or allergies: Cats may have specific food intolerances or allergies, and certain ingredients in their diet can trigger diarrhea. Common allergens include dairy products, grains, and certain types of protein.
- Ingestion of inappropriate or toxic substances: Cats are curious by nature, and they may ingest plants, household chemicals, medications, or other toxic substances, which can irritate their digestive system and result in diarrhea.
- Parasites: Intestinal parasites, such as worms or protozoa, can cause diarrhea in cats. Regular deworming is important to prevent and treat parasite infestations.
- Bacterial or viral infections: Cats can contract bacterial or viral infections that affect their gastrointestinal tract, leading to diarrhea. Common examples include salmonella, E. coli, or feline panleukopenia virus.
- Stress or anxiety: Cats are sensitive animals, and stressful situations, changes in their environment, or anxiety can disrupt their digestive system and cause diarrhea.
- Underlying health conditions: Diarrhea can also be a symptom of underlying health issues in cats, such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, liver or kidney disease, thyroid disorders, or certain cancers.
If your cat has diarrhea, it is essential to monitor their condition and seek veterinary attention if the diarrhea persists, is severe, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, or dehydration. A veterinarian can perform a thorough examination, run diagnostic tests if necessary, and provide appropriate treatment based on the underlying cause of the diarrhea.
what to feed a cat with diarrhea?
If your cat is experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. In the meantime, you can make some dietary adjustments to help manage your cat’s condition. Here are some general guidelines for feeding a cat with diarrhea:
- Water: Ensure that your cat has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so it’s crucial to keep your cat hydrated.
- Bland diet: Feed your cat a bland diet that is gentle on the digestive system. A good option is boiled chicken or turkey (without seasoning) mixed with plain, cooked white rice. This combination provides easily digestible protein and helps firm up the stool.
- Pumpkin puree: Adding a small amount of plain, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) to your cat’s food can help with diarrhea. The fiber in pumpkin can aid in regulating bowel movements. Start with a teaspoon and gradually increase the amount if it is well-tolerated.
- Probiotics: Probiotics can help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which may be disrupted during diarrhea. Speak to your veterinarian about recommending a cat-specific probiotic or a probiotic supplement that is safe for feline use.
- Avoid certain foods: During episodes of diarrhea, it’s best to avoid feeding your cat any rich or fatty foods, dairy products, human medications, or table scraps. These can exacerbate digestive issues.
Remember, these suggestions are not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your cat’s diarrhea persists or worsens, or if your cat shows other concerning symptoms, it is important to seek veterinary attention promptly.