What Are The Causes Of Diarrhoea In Cats
Diarrhoea is a common problem with a wide variety of causes. Cats are less likely to get diarrhoea than dogs since they tend to be a bit more careful about what they eat.
Common causes of diarrhoea in cats include parasites, infection and colitis. Cats may have diarrhoea as a result of eating inappropriate products, such as non-food items or due to intolerance to certain foods, such as lactose.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Cat’s Diarrhea
Most cats with acute diarrhea usually only have one episode of diarrhea, are fine afterwards and require no treatment. Causes for concern include chronic diarrhea that doesn’t resolve with treatment, bloody diarrhea, worms in stool, weight loss, loss of appetite for more than one day, or if your cat is lethargic or looks dehydrated .
How Is The Cause Of Diarrhea Diagnosed
Cats with unresolved or bloody diarrhea require a complete physical examination, an oral history from the owner, and laboratory testing of a fecal sample to determine the cause of diarrhea.
The type of tests ordered depend on what cause of diarrhea the vet suspects, and may include a fecal flotation, other fecal tests, and blood and urine analysis. Other tests may include x-rays, abdominal ultrasound, tests for pancreatitis, fecal cultures, and biopsy of the intestines if inflammatory bowel disease or cancer is suspected.
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Treating Your Cats Vomiting And Diarrhea At Home
If your cat is bright and happy, and there is no blood in the diarrhea or vomit, then you can often start by providing supportive treatment at home.
- If your cat is vomiting, withhold food for 12-24 hours.
- Very small cats and kittens should NOT be fasted at all due to a high risk of developing severely low blood sugar levels.
- Offer a bland diet in small portions. Examples include boiled rice or potatoes with cooked chicken breast or very lean hamburger, or a prescription intestinal diet.
- Recommended feeding protocol:
- Day 1: give 50% of the recommended daily amount divided into 6-8 portions
- Day 2 and 3: give 75% divided into 4-6 portions
- Day 4 and 5: give 100% divided into 3-4 portions
- Once your cat has been normal for a couple of days you can gradually re-introduce its normal food.
- Your cat should always have access to fresh water.
- On average, a cat should drink about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. This requirement will be significantly increased if your cat is vomiting or has diarrhea.
- Ensure that your cat is allowed quiet time to rest and fully recover.
- In the case of contagious diseases, its important to avoid contact with other cats until your cat has completely recovered.
When To Call The Vet
If your cat has diarrhea for two days or more, call your veterinarian. Cat diarrhea is an emergency if the feces are black or bloody, or accompanied by other signs of illnesslike fever, vomiting, lethargy or sluggishness, or lack of appetite. If those symptoms occur along with diarrhea, call your veterinarian immediately.
During an appointment, your veterinarian will ask you detailed questions about when you first noticed the diarrhea, how your cat’s diet or eating has changed recently, and what your cat’s stool looks like. Your veterinarian may ask you to bring a stool sample for testing , but also don’t hesitate to take a picture of stool in the litter box . Some conditions can be aggravated by stress, so be sure to tell your veterinarian about any household changes that might have rattled your feline friend.
Honesty is important here, even if you’re a little embarrassed about the topic at hand, or how long you waited to bring the cat to the veterinarian. Renee Rucinsky, DVM, DABVP , who owns a cat hospital in Maryland, understands that life happens, and time goes by quicklyso dont be shy.
“The veterinarian really needs to know how long has been going on,” Rucinsky says. “Telling us that it’s only been happening for a few days when it’s actually been much longer can really change the way we approach the problem. We need all of the information to treat the cat appropriately.”
Depending on the cause of your cat’s diarrhea, your veterinarian may also prescribe:
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Types Of Diarrhea In Cats
The colors of the feces are going to be of great help as one of the main symptoms that we can use when discovering what are the diarrheas of cats. Take note of these indications.
- The greenish or yellowish ones imply that the intestinal transit is excessively fast and the reason why the excrements do not acquire the appropriate consistency and color.
- The black color means that there has been a hemorrhage in some phase of the upper tract, so the stool has ended up taking the color of dried blood.
- When the excrement is stained red, it is because the bleeding has been generated in the colon, which is in the lower intestine.
- The creams, beiges colors pasty or imply lack of bile suggesting the existence of liver problems.
- The gray color finally is related to digestive complications.
How Do You Treat A Cat With Diarrhea
Unlike vomiting, diarrhea doesnt require the cat owner to withhold food for an extended period of time. In fact, withholding food during this time can actually do more harm than good and can put your cat at risk of developing a fatal type of liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis. Additionally, keep your cat hydrated with water.
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Symptoms Of Cat Stomach Upset
Symptoms of an upset stomach in a cat include licking the lips, which is a sign of nausea, vomiting and refusing to eat, says Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, medical director and founder of Just Cats Clinic in Reston, Virginia. Possibly the cat ate something it shouldnt have, like a bug or a leaf of a plant. Diarrhea may also develop if the problem affects the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Mark Rondeau, DVM, BS, of PennVet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says that while vomiting is the most visible sign of cat stomach upset, a change in behavior, such as being less active or not interacting or hiding in unusual placesa lot of those behaviors are common in cats that may have upset stomachs.
And no, those hairballs that suddenly appear on the new living room carpet are not the same thing as when your cat throws up. This is an extremely common myth, Dr. Arguelles says. Theres a distinction between a hairballwhich looks like a piece of poop made out of hairand vomit, which may have hair in it along with partially digested food or bile.
Dr. Rondeau adds that if a cat occasionally hurls a hairballejecting hair that isnt processed out through the other endits not something to worry about, but that the reasons for feline vomiting can include a long list of things.
Vomiting And Diarrhoea In Cats
Cats often vomit or develop diarrhoea, when should we treat? The reason for the vomiting or diarrhoea may be simple, such as a hairball, however the cause could be more serious. Whether the symptoms stop on their own, or whether your cat needs to see a vet, will depend on how he or she is in themselves and what the vomit or diarrhoea looks like.
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A Suggested Feeding Schedule:
- Day 1: give 50% of the recommended daily amount divided into 6-8 portions
- Day 2 and 3: give 75% divided into 4-6 portions
- Day 4 and 5: give 100% divided into 3-4 portions
- Once your cat has been normal for a couple of days you can gradually re-introduce the usual food
Typically, cats need 50ml of liquid per kg of body weight per day. This means about 200ml for a cat weighing 4kg.
What To Do If Your Cat Has Diarrhea
Treatment for diarrhea should not be attempted at home. Always talk with your veterinarian to ensure your cat receives proper treatment. Over-the-counter medications and so-called natural substances used by humans with diarrhea may actually be toxic or dangerous for your cat. It might be tempting to try to change your cats diet as a way to resolve the diarrhea, but this is not recommended. Even if a food change resolves the current issue, it does not mean that the underlying problem has gone away. You could be delaying a diagnosis and proper treatment for your cat.
Your veterinarian will need to work through a list of possible causes by examining your cat and pursuing various diagnostic tests. The earlier that this process is started, the better the outcome for your cat.
Contributed by Dr. Kelly St. Denis, MSc, DVM, DABVP
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My Older Cat Has Diarrhea
See files for Cats
Diarrhea is a clinical sign which indicates a cat has gastrointestinal problems. However, the causes of GI issues are extremely varied. Some are relatively benign and will clear up on their own in a short time. Others can be more serious and require veterinary medical intervention. Although diarrhea in cats is common, it should never be ignored. This is especially the case with older cats. Senior cats often have weaker immune systems due to the effects of age, so even milder disease can cause serious difficulty.
My older cat has diarrhea – At AnimalWised, we look at the causes of diarrhea in older cats. Before we do, we always encourage taking your cat to the veterinarian if you see symptoms of disease, but this is especially so in senior cats.
Turkey And Pumpkin Diet
You can use also the second diet because it is equally effective as the first. Cooked, ground turkey and pumpkin are considered the most digestible products for cats with diarrhea. Pumpkin is rich in soluble fiber that helps cover and soothe the gastrointestinal tract. Besides, pumpkin creates the effect of increased peristalsis instead of gastric emptying and this great food contains potassium. Potassium is known as a common electrolyte and its level usually reduces during diarrhea.
You can also give your cat yogurt if he has diarrhea. As has been said, dairy products are not recommended for cats, but the case with diarrhea is the exception. A small portion of yogurt will be really beneficial for your feline because it contains a special type of bacteria . These bacteria usually live in the intestines and improve and maintain the cats digestive health. If your favorite has diarrhea, the natural flora of the gut is often violated and yogurt with its probiotics can help balance the intestinal bacteria.
Besides, slippery elm can be used as the herbal remedy to treat diarrhea at home. Slippery elm provides mucilage. This gelatinous substance improves mucus secretion which helps protect the GI tract and covers and soothes the intestines and stomach.
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Types Of Cat Probiotics
Cat probiotics come in a variety of formspowders, pills, and even infused inside of treats. In order to get the largest benefit out of a probiotic supplement, Mahaney recommends opting for the highest CFU that you can find. Diversity is also important. We want to make sure that we have a diverse array of probioticsnot just one type of bacteria, Mahaney adds.
The strains that cats tend to do best with are those of the Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus families. Bifidobacterium tends to live in the small intestine, whereas Enterococcus generally resides in the colon . So each strain could have a different function when it comes to promoting health. Bifidobacterium is more involved with digestion and the Enterococcus aids with the formation of normal feces and helping to maintain colonic health. Mahaney says you really cant go wrong with purchasing a product with additional bacteria strains but stresses that its important to opt for a supplement that contains the two bacteria mentioned above.
Make sure there are at least two different types in there because they do jobs in different locations, he notes. But ideally there could be five types of Enterococcus or five different types of Bifidobacterium in there, Mahaney adds.
When Should I Worry About Diarrhea
With so many potential causes for diarrhea in cats, it can be difficult to know when to worry. Should you panic if your cat has diarrhea but not other symptoms?
In most cases, if your cat has diarrhea but seems all right, you shouldnt be too concerned. Most of the major and more serious issues are all accompanied by other symptoms. For example, diarrhea is unlikely to be the first symptoms you notice if your cat has kidney disease and liver disease. Similarly, more severe GI infections which could be life-threatening will present themselves in other ways, too.
However, if their diarrhea gets severe even if it is still the only symptom you should immediately speak to your vet. Severe diarrhea can lead to dehydration which can be extremely dangerous to your feline! So that you know what constitutes as severe, here are all the things you shouldnt ignore:
- Consistent diarrhea that lasts over 24 hours
- Intermittent diarrhea that lasts over 2 weeks
- Bloody stools even if acting normal
- Pooping upwards of five times per day
- Stools that are green or yellow in color
- Diarrhea while taking other prescribed medication
- Other symptoms in combination with diarrhea
- A kitten or old cat with diarrhea
- Your cat is already battling another medical condition
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Preventing Vomiting And Diarrhea
- Avoid feeding fatty, salty, or spicy foods
- Introduce diet changes slowly, over 5-7 days, to allow the intestinal bacteria to adjust.
- During times of stress, it may be helpful to use a soothing pheromone spray or plug-in adapter
- Speak to your vet about calming supplements or anxiety medication if your pet is easily stressed.
- Consider feeding a probiotic supplement if your pet is prescribed antibiotics. Always ask the advice of a vet before giving your pet supplements or medication.
- If your cat catches birds or rodents, your vet may recommend routine fecal exams to see if deworming medication is necessary.
- Roundwormsare extremely common in kittens. Your vet will recommend deworming your new kitten with an appropriate dewormer.
- Ask your vet or make an appointment with one of the FirstVet vets to discuss deworming your kitten or cat.
- Vaccinating your cat against feline parvovirus is extremely important. Kittens should be vaccinated starting at 6-8 weeks, then every 3 weeks until 16-18 weeks of age. Adult boosters will be needed to maintain immunity. Prevention of this disease is VERY important. Feline parvovirus is extremely contagious and can cause fatalities, especially in young kittens.
Your Cats Digestive System
As obligate carnivores, cats dont need the longer gastrointestinal tracts required by omnivores like dogs and humans, who eat a much broader diet, or herbivores like cows and rabbits, who eat plants. A cats digestive tract is relatively short, and a high-protein meal moves through quickly. It typically takes a cats food about 20 hours to pass through the whole GI tract, whereas in a human, digestion may take as long as 72 hours. The fast transit rate of food through the feline GI tract reflects its adaptation to a hunting lifestyle, making the cat ready to pounce on the next prey item.
Different illnesses arise in different parts of the intestinal tract, so in figuring out the cause of your cats problem, its helpful to determine whether the diarrhea originates in the small intestine or the large intestine .
For example, because the small intestine is where most nutrients get absorbed, problems here can mean the body is missing out on a lot of the nutrition in your cats food, which can create additional problems, like weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. Your cats poop can offer important clues:
The color of your cats poop may also help you figure out whats going on. This chart describes the most common poop colors and what causes them:
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When Should I Call The Vet
When a cat has diarrhea for a longer period of time, it will lose a lot of fluids, which means it will also be losing important minerals and salts that are vital for its health. If your cat has diarrhea, it might be a serious problem which will require a visit to your veterinarian to thoroughly check the feline, determine the severity of the diarrhea and prescribe the best treatment.
Your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions to determine how severe the diarrhea is. It will be helpful for your veterinarian to know when the diarrhea started, how many bowel movements your cat has had, what they look like, and if your cat is uncomfortable. It is especially important that you call your veterinarian immediately if your cat has the following:
- Blood in the diarrhea or the stools are black or tarry
- Eaten something toxic or poisonous
- Fever, depression, or dehydration
- Still not received all his vaccinations
Do not give your cat any medications, including over-the-counter human medications unless advised by your veterinarian to do so.
How suddenly the symptoms appeared is also a good clue to what the cause of the diarrhea may be. If the symptoms appeared suddenly, the condition is called “acute”. If the symptoms remain over a long period of time , the diarrhea is called “chronic”. If the symptoms appear, go away, and then come back again over several weeks, the diarrhea is considered “intermittent.”