Diarrhea in Cats

Diarrhea in Cats : Signs, Diagnosis, & Treatment

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Diarrhea in cats is characterized by a change in the volume and frequency of feces. It is one of the most common cat diseases. A kitty experiences frequent loose or liquid bowel movements, which could be a single bout or last for weeks or months. The reason may be a change in the diet or…

Jacquelyn Pica

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Jacquelyn Pica

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Diarrhea in cats is characterized by a change in the volume and frequency of feces. It is one of the most common cat diseases. A kitty experiences frequent loose or liquid bowel movements, which could be a single bout or last for weeks or months. The reason may be a change in the diet or something more serious. If diarrhea persists for more than a day, it could lead to dehydration, which may have serious effects on the cat health.

Acute Diarrhea in Cats

There are primarily four reasons for acute diarrhea, including over secretion, osmotic imbalances, or intestinal exudation.

Too much of fluid secretion by the intestine may result in over secretion. This occurs when the intestine is exposed to toxins or bacterial infection.

When there is a high concentration of food molecules in the kitty’s intestine, it could result in osmotic imbalance.  As a result, the excess molecules draw water into the intestine, causing diarrhea.

Ulcers in the intestinal tissue layer are the prime cause of intestinal exudation, which may cause blood fluid to ooze out.

Some intestinal infections may cause over secretion from the intestine.

Cat with diarrhea

What Causes Diarrhea in Cats?

A form of intestinal disturbance, diarrhea may originate in the small or large intestine, resulting in abnormally loose or watery stools. Although diarrhea is not a disease, there may be an underlying condition or disorder.  However, bloody or black stools are a sign of bleeding in stomach or small intestine. Diarrhea in cats may be due to any of the following reasons:

  • Diet: A sudden change in diet can trigger diarrhea symptoms in cats.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: In some cases, the cause of diarrhea is a group of conditions that involve some degree of inflammation in the alimentary canal or gastro-intestinal tract. Different types of inflammatory cellsmay invade the intestines, causing inflammation of the GI tract and resulting in loose stools. The GI tract is responsible for the movement of food to the anus. However, if a kitty suffers from bacterial, viral, parasitic, protozoan infection or intestinal worms, it may result in food allergies or intolerance to poisonous plants or chemical toxins, causing irritable bowel movement and diarrhea.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: This is one condition in which the pancreas cannot secrete the required amount of pancreatic enzymes necessary for digestion. As a result, the cat suffers from diarrhea.
  • Hyperthyroidism: In rare cases, hyperthyroidism may cause diarrhea in cats. The condition is usually triggered by a tumor in the thyroid gland.
  • Other cat diseases: Liver disease, kidney disease, pancreatitis, or certain types of cancer may also cause frequent incidences of higher stool volumes, runny feline stools, or greater frequency of defecation.

How To Diagnose Feline Diarrhea

Most veterinarians classify diarrhea on the basis of its severity and duration to diagnose the actual cause. Therefore it is important to provide a detailed medical history about your kitty, so the real cause of the problem can be diagnosed.

  • Tell the vet about any noticeable changes in your cat’s normal routine.
  • What is the frequency, color, smell, and consistency of the stools?
  • Are there any other specific signs, such as lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, or loss of appetite?
  • Is there blood or mucus in the stool?
  • Are there signs of increased urgency?
  • Do you observe stool accidents outside the litter?
  • What is your cat’s dietary history? Are there any recent dietary changes?
  • Does your feline go outside?
  • What is her vaccination status?

The vet will do a thorough clinical exam to look for signs of anemia, dehydration, abdominal pain, or intestinal irregularity.

Additionally, they may recommend some in-depth diagnostic tests, including blood work or stool test, if the symptoms point toward a serious condition. Some other tests include radiography and rectal swab samples for parasitic examination.

Kitten in litter box

Common Symptoms of Diarrhea in Cats

  • Fecal accidents
  • More than normal water in feces
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormally frequent defecation
  • Depression
  • Increased volume of feces
  • Abdominal pain
  • Possible listlessness
  • Blood or mucus in feces
  • Straining to defecate
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy

Treatment for Cat Diarrhea

If diarrhea persists for three weeks or more despite treatment, it is a case of chronic diarrhea. Food allergies, parasitic or bacterial infection, pancreatic disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and hyperthyroidism may precipitate the problem.

Severe dehydration cases require immediate hospitalization for shock fluid and electrolyte therapy. Some severe cases may require potassium supplementation.

Contrarily, mild cases may be treated on an outpatient basis. In simple cases of diarrhea in cats, the vet may recommend dietary changes or prescribe an oral medication.

The veterinarian is the best person to prescribe the right medication for your kitty. Normally dewormers, anti-secretory drugs, and intestinal protectants are prescribed for mild diarrhea in cats. The vet may prescribe antibiotics in some cases of bacterial infection or damage to the intestine, depending on the condition and symptoms of the patient.

In some cases, you may not require to change the diet permanently, while in others, the kitty slowly switches back to her normal dietary routine.

An accurate diagnosis is therefore critical to ensure that your feline gets the right treatment.

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