Diarrhea in cats is a common issue that we see at our veterinary clinic. No doubt if your cat is suffering from diarrhea your top priority will be curing the condition. Today, our Glendale vets explain some common causes, and how to stop diarrhea, and chronic diarrhea, in cats.
Diarrhea in Cats
Our Glendale vets see a lot of cats suffering from diarrhea for a range of reasons.
You might or might not be immediately aware of the specifics of your cat's bathroom habits, depending on her lifestyle. The tell-tale (or tell-tail) signs of diarrhea may also be missed in cats because of their meticulous grooming, especially in the beginning stages. Regular veterinary visits are crucial for this reason.
There are a number of more serious reasons why your cat could have diarrhea.
What Causes Diarrhea in Cats
Below are some of the most common reasons for diarrhea in cats:
- Parasites – Parasites can definitely irritate your cat’s gastrointestinal, causing all kinds of diarrhea involving the small and/or large bowels. Significant numbers of parasites that cause diarrhea are more common in younger kittens
- Infections – Viral or bacterial infections can also cause diarrhea and also occur more frequently in younger cats
- Dietary Indiscretion or Diet Change – Cats tend to be more careful about what they eat than dogs, but sometimes they eat inappropriate things like grass, string, etc. Even a purposeful change in diet from one food to another can cause diarrhea
- Stress – Just like with people, stress/anxiety/excitement can result in GI upset (especially lower bowel irritation or colitis)
- Primary Inflammatory Disorders – Like inflammatory bowel disease in people, inflammatory disorders can cause your cat to develop diarrhea
- Metabolic Diseases – From disorders of the pancreas or liver to thyroid imbalances, there are many other problems that upset the motility or environment in the GI tract resulting in diarrhea
- Medications/Toxins – Most know that certain antibiotics can upset the GI tract but other medications and certain toxins can also cause diarrhea
- Constipation – Although it may seem counterintuitive, I bring up constipation because older cats are more prone to colon motility issues, which can result in constipation. In these circumstances, the cats frequently are only able to pass a small amount of additional liquid stools past the obstruction.
But how do you know whether your cat's diarrhea requires a visit to the vet?
When To Contact Your Vet
It is probably nothing to worry about if your cat only has one episode of diarrhea and otherwise seems healthy. To check if things get better, keep an eye on your cat's bowel movements. It's a good idea to call your vet if your cat has more than two episodes of diarrhea because more than two episodes could be a sign of a problem.
If your kitty is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, it could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a hairball. This is a very serious concern and needs veterinary attention right away, contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.
Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your cat is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Contact your vet right away if your kitty is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.
Cats showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your cat has any of the following symptoms contact your vet right away to make an appointment:
- Blood in stool
- Unusual drooling
- Lack of Appetite
- Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)
If your cat is displaying any symptoms that cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.
How to Treat Diarrhea in Cats
Never give your cat human medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that work well for people can be toxic to cats.
Fibre is a great 'equalizer,' so increasing your intake is an option. However, I believe it is best to eat several smaller meals of something easily digestible. That means a low-fat, carbohydrate-heavy diet consisting primarily of potatoes, pasta, or rice with a small amount of chicken, turkey, low-fat cottage cheese, or yogurt. Some cats enjoy eating meat-based baby foods.
When it comes to your kitty's health it is always best to err on the side of caution. By taking your feline friend in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of their diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.