Educational Resources

Diarrhea in Cats

Dah Scoop on Poop                                 

No one really wants to talk about it, but if you live with a cat long enough, the topic of diarrhea will arise. This unpleasant symptom can range from a brief mess in the litterbox to a lengthy or serious illness. What does a cat lover need to know about this condition?

Causes: Many Factors Affect the Intestines

Diet-related: "Dietary indiscretion" means your cat ate something she shouldn't have—with distressing results. Even a sudden change in diet can cause stomach upset. Raw diets increase the risk of certain infections. Food intolerances or "allergies" can develop at any age, with any diet.

Infections/Infestations: Diarrhea-causing parasites infest most kittens. They can affect older cats, especially hunters. Viral diarrheas especially threaten kittens with incomplete vaccinations. Bacterial infections can also cause diarrhea.

Organic Illness: Diseases of the digestive system can cause diarrhea. Intestinal diseases range from inflammatory bowel disease to cancer. Pancreatic insufficiency or pancreatitis hampers digestion. Liver disease can complicate digestive problems.

What to do if your cat has diarrhea:

Never give your cat any human or over-the-counter medications without your veterinarian's advice. If diarrhea is mild, brief, and the cat otherwise feels well, simple measures may help:

  •  Hold the cat off solid food for 12 hours to give the guts a rest.
  •  Make sure plenty of water is available. Clear broth is OK, too.
  • Offer a tsp. of canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling) per meal for several days.

Seek veterinary care if your cat is:

  • A kitten that is not through with all immunizations and deworming.
  • Vomiting, feeling ill, having a fever, or poor appetite.
  • Has had diarrhea for more than a few days, or is losing weight.

Prevent diarrhea in your cat by:

  • Quarantining any new cats from resident cats until the veterinary exam.
  • Make sure kittens get all their vaccinations, dewormings, and diagnostics.
  • Keeping cats current on flea and parasite control programs.
  • Making changes in the diet gradually and avoiding raw diets.
  •  Preventing hunting or exposure to outdoor sources of infection.
  • Keeping litter boxes clean every day.

Some forms of diarrhea have the potential to cause disease in humans, so ensure children wash carefully after handling the cat. Keep the cat clean and wash your hands often. 

Read more about diarrhea in cats from Pet Education

This article is from Cats Exclusive's Winter 2011 Mewsletter

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