Diarrhea in Cats: Thunder Down Under

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Diarrhea in Cats

Table of Content

What is Diarrhea in Cats?

Diarrhea (also known as gastrointestinal upset) refers to the rapid passing of ingested material through the intestine. This can result in:

  • Increase in the frequency of bowel movements (decreases absorption of essential compounds)
  • Unformed or loose stools
  • Increase in the volume of stools passed

The colors of the stools passed can be darker or lighter than usual, and can even reach bright colors such as green, red and yellow.

Diarrhea is not a disease in itself but is rather a symptom of other diseases. Most of the time, the duration of the condition will be short-lived, solved through either medicated or natural repair, or a change of diet. In more severe cases, the presence of diarrhea can be a sign of deeper health issues.

There are four different classifications of diarrhea:

  • Acute or, (sudden and short duration)
  • Chronic (extending 2-3 weeks)
  • Persistent or, (all the time)
  • Intermittent (happens irregularly)

What are the Causes of Diarrhea in Cats?

Since diarrhea is not a disease in itself, it can be a warning sign of potentially dangerous health issues in your cat. Having said this, if diarrhea is only present for a couple of days, then it is likely to have been an adverse reaction to something ingested (either in water or food). If the condition is persistent, past the point of 24 – 48 hours, then it is more likely to be related to an infection/disease.

Below is a list of potential causes of diarrhea in cats:

  • Ingestion of toxic or poisonous chemicals (e.g. antifreeze)
  • Changes to diet (allergic reactions and food intolerances)
  • Have been fed cow’s milk
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatic disease (and various other metabolic diseases)
  • Kidney disease
  • Worms (intestinal parasites)
  • Cancer
  • Colitis (inflammation of the inner lining of the colon)

This list is not exhaustive. There may be many reasons why your cat is experiencing diarrhea. To find out the reason that is specific to your cat, seek advice from your local veterinary expert.

What are the Symptoms of Diarrhea in Cats?

While you may think that the symptoms of diarrhea may be obvious, this is often not the case. If you aren’t keeping a close eye on your cats’ litter tray or feces, then you may not realize what condition they are in.

We have listed some symptoms of diarrhea in cats below, and included what it may mean:

  • Black, runny stools with signs of blood (stomach or intestinal bleeding – call the vet ASAP)
  • Smelly, mousse looking stools (food intolerance or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Gooey stools with signs of mucus (lack of fiber or colitis)
  • Soft, frothy, greasy stools with signs of mucus or white or brown rice-like shapes (parasites/worms)
  • Change in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Lethargy (lack of energy)

How is Diarrhea in Cats Linked to the Bigger Picture?

When you take your cat down to your local vets, it is highly recommended that you bring detailed information about your cats’ previous and ongoing medical conditions. We have outlined some of the necessary points you should list:

  • Frequency of diarrhea occurrences (e.g., specific dates you first noticed, does it occur monthly)
  • Severity of diarrhea cases (e.g., what are the colors, consistency and smell of the stools, is there blood in the stools?)
  • Any signs of vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and weight loss
  • Previous medical history (ideally in chronological order)
  • Current, and previous, medical treatments (e.g., prescription medicine, therapies)

In some cases, if initial treatment does not work, you will be asked to bring a fresh fecal sample down to the vets. This is so that they can closely examine the feces for the presence of any visible signs (e.g. parasites) that can lead to a more extensive diagnosis of illness.

As well as this, further down the line, your vet may suggest further diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of the health defects your cat may be suffering from. Examples include: blood tests, radiographs (X-ray) and endoscopy (invasive camera)

What is the Treatment for Diarrhea in Cats?

The treatment for diarrhea in cats depends upon what is causing the cat to experience diarrhea in the first place.

For mild, short-lived cases, it is likely that you will be advised to:

  • Withhold food for 24 hours but allow access to water (rests the intestines)
  • Re-introduce small portions of easily digestible food while they recover
  • Gently introduce your cat to a new diet until they are healthy again
  • Once healthy, and their stools are back to normal, you can reintroduce your cats’ initial diet

In more severe cases, where the diagnosis has led to dealing with more significant health cases, the following treatments might occur:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Deworming medication (parasites)
  • Intravenous fluids

This list is certainly not exhaustive. These are common treatments of more severe diseases that have led to diarrhea in cats. As always, you should seek advice from your local veterinary expert. They will help you diagnose the problem and treat it effectively.

If you are reading this because your kitty is ill, we hope everything goes alright and that they make a speedy recovery.

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