Cat Diarrhea

Most kitties occasionally get bouts of mild cat diarrhea. It usually clears up on its own without any treatment. There are lots of different causes. Depending on the cause, the diarrhea will vary in frequency, consistency, smell and color.

Causes And Treatment Of Cat Diarrhea

picture of cat sitting in grass

1) Causes of mild diarrhea

Common causes of mild diarrhea include:

  • New foods which are unfamiliar to your cat's intestine and therefore not properly digested
  • Overeating
  • Rich foods - e.g. liver, cow's milk
  • Stress - e.g. following house move, trip to the vet, new pet, new baby, thunderstorm etc.

2) Causes of severe diarrhea

Severe diarrhea is usually caused by one of the following:

  • Hypermotility - the bowel moves material through it too fast, so the food doesn't have enough time to be properly absorbed
  • Infection
  • Malabsorption - either caused by incomplete breakdown of food so it can't be properly absorbed, or by a malfunction of the bowel wall, which reduces its ability to absorb nutrients

cat raiding fridge

Hypermotility can be caused by chemicals that irritate the bowel, severe worm infestation, drinking stagnant water, eating rotting meat, toxins produced by bacteria or very rich / fatty foods

Infection can be bacterial, parasitic (e.g. cat worms or viral. Cat enteritis (inflammation and damage to the gut wall) is often caused by infection.

Malabsorption can be due to liver and pancreas problems, indigestible foods, overeating, an intolerance to a certain food or an inability of the the bowel wall to absorb nutrients.

In all these cases, the diarrhea may be accompanied by blood loss, and feline anemia can occur due to this loss of blood.

3) Treatment of mild diarrhea

The cat's bowel needs to rest to recover. A cat with mild diarrhea is usually treated by being given only water or a special drink from the vet which helps to keep the chemical balance in his body normal. This is given for 24 hours (or 12 hours in the case of a kitten), and then he's given a bland diet - e.g. chicken or white fish - in small, frequent helpings. He can usually return to his normal diet within about 5 days, with it being slowly re-introduced over that period. For advice on health insurance for your cat, click here.

When Should You Call The Vet?

Severe diarrhea shouldn't be ignored, and if it doesn't clear up quickly, you should take Kitty to the vet. Frequent, severe diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, which could endanger your cat if it's not dealt with swiftly.

Cats that are very young, very old on in general poor health should be checked by a vet if they develop diarrhea. They are less able to cope with it than healthy adult cats, so they're at greater risk.

You should also call the vet if:

  • Your cat is vomiting in addition to having diarrhea
  • Your cat is lethargic
  • Your cat is in pain
  • Blood is present in the feces or vomit
  • The cat diarrhea doesn't clear up after home treatment

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