Like many other living things, cats get diarrhea, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. Whether it's caused by stress, something your cat ate or drank, or an illness, it's important to get to the bottom of it so you can help your feline friend start feeling better.
Certain causes of diarrhea are more serious than others, and if left untreated, can lead to complications—and in rare cases, even death. A veterinarian can help you understand the underlying cause of your cat's diarrhea and help get them back on track.
Read on to learn what causes cat diarrhea and ways to help your cat feel better.
If your cat has diarrhea, there can be a variety of causes. Context clues about your cat's behavior and any other symptoms they may be experiencing may help you narrow down what's ailing them.
A common cause of cat diarrhea is is dietary indiscretion—but that can even be a simple change in the type of food you're feeding them. Changes in brand or type of cat food can cause diarrhea.
A cat who has gotten into the trash or eaten people food can experience diarrhea. If the stool is soft but formed, the cat is not vomiting and is eating normally, a trip to the veterinary office can be delayed a day or two to see if the stool returns to normal on its own.
Your cat may also have an allergy or sensitivity to something they're eating. If the diarrhea persists and if your cat’s diarrhea seems to be linked to food, your cat may be intolerant to certain types of protein or other ingredients. A veterinarian can work with you to determine which foods are causing the sensitivity to try to resolve the diarrhea.
Parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens can also cause diarrhea. Kittens should have their stool checked for parasites or worms three to four times as they mature into teenagers. Adult cats should have parasite screenings annually.
Mother cats pass worms and other pathogens to their babies, and adult cats can be infected for life or otherwise become infected through hunting (even insects). If diarrhea is lasting more than two days, take your cat to the veterinarian for parasite screening.
There are many other diseases which can cause loose or watery stools. Pancreatitis, liver disease, and gastrointestinal cancer can cause diarrhea. If you notice your cat has lost weight, it's important to book an appointment with a veterinarian.
One great first step in keeping your cat healthy (and hopefully diarrhea free), is ensuring your cat is up to date on vaccines, deworming, and current preventions. Preventative care will help to prevent intestinal parasite infections and some viral infections.
If your cat is prescribed to take an antibiotic, many vets recommend supplementing with a probiotic. You can speak with your veterinarian about a probiotic they carry in the hospital, or they may recommend one you can find in a local pet store.
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When you notice a case of diarrhea in your cat, you can try home care to help them recover if no other symptoms are noted. You may try treating your cat's diarrhea by feeding a bland diet of the following options with added probiotics:
Low fat cottage cheese and boiled white rice. Mix one part cottage cheese with three parts rice.
Boiled chicken or boiled hamburger and boiled white rice or pasta.
Beef or chicken broth over boiled white rice.
Single-ingredient meat flavored baby food with boiled white rice
If after 48 to 72 hours, you do not see improvement with diarrhea or if your cat begins having more symptoms, it's important to talk to a veterinarian.
When managing a cat with diarrhea, the pet parent must first decide if the diarrhea requires immediate treatment. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which in itself presents a whole bunch of health risks to the cat. Dehydration requires fluid therapy, and if not treated, could cause organ damage and even death.
A cat with diarrhea should be taken to a veterinarian for treatment immediately if the cat is depressed or otherwise seems disoriented or not acting normally (i.e. unresponsive to stimulation, twitching, vocalizing abnormally, breathing abnormally).
If the cat is vomiting, not eating, and not drinking in addition to having loose stool, this also warrants a visit with a veterinarian. A cat experiencing vomiting and diarrhea loses water much more quickly. Even if eating and drinking normally, the cat will not be able to drink enough to replace water lost. The combination of diarrhea, vomiting, and lack of appetite should cause immediate concern and the cat should be taken to a veterinarian.
If your cat has diarrhea and you're not sure about next steps, the Vet Pros at Pawp are here to help 24/7.