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Diarrhea in Cats: Common Causes & When It's Serious

As a cat parent, dealing with diarrhea in your feline friend can be messy and distressing. Our veterinarians inLisle are here to offer insight into the common causes of this condition in cats and when it requires serious attention.

If your cat has diarrhea, it's important to find the cause and help them recover quickly. Here are some common reasons why cats get diarrhea and when it's necessary to seek veterinary attention.

Diarrhea in Cats

It's not uncommon for cats to experience mild diarrhea, such as consuming table scraps or switching to a different brand of food. However, several severe health conditions might also be causing your cat's discomfort.

What causes diarrhea in pets?

Below are some of the most common reasons for cat diarrhea:

  • Colitis
  • Parasites
  • Viral infection
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Bacterial infections
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Medications such as antibiotics
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys and fabric

However, how do you know whether or not your cat's diarrhea will require a visit to your veterinarian? When is it serious enough to warrant medical attention?

How to Stop Chronic & Acute Diarrhea in Cats

Human medications can be very dangerous for cats and should never be given to them unless explicitly instructed by your vet.

Regarding your cat's health, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Taking your feline friend to the vet for an examination allows your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of your cat's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.

Your vet's primary focus will be on addressing the underlying cause of your cat's diarrhea. Once your cat has received a diagnosis, treatment can begin to address the problem rather than just the symptom.

Of course, your priority is likely to be stopping the mess. To address your cat's diarrhea, your vet may prescribe a kaolin-pectin anti-diarrheal medication or another suitable drug, as well as recommend one or more of the strategies below.

Other things to consider when thinking about how to treat diarrhea in cats:

  • Changing Your Cat's Diet - Changing your cat's food may help to rectify the issue. If you have recently changed your cat's food,, return to serving the food you previously gave them. If you haven't changed your cat's food recently try switching to a gentle GI food for a couple of days or switching your kitty over to a hypoallergenic or low-antigen diet.
  • Supplement Your Cat's Diet With Probiotics—Probiotics may be recommended as a dietary supplement for your cat to address the balance of the microbiome and reduce GI upset.
  • Increase the Amount of Fiber in Your Cat's Diet—Increase your feline friends' fiber intake by trying a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet that includes foods such as potatoes or rice mixed with chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, or yogurt. 

When should you contact your vet about diarrhea in cats?

If your pet has a single episode of diarrhea but is otherwise behaving normally, it's probably not a cause for concern. However, monitoring their bowel movements is important to see if the issue is resolved. If your cat experiences more than two episodes of diarrhea in a short period of time, it could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to contact your veterinarian if this occurs.

If your pet seems to be struggling to pass stool and is only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, it could be a sign of a painful blockage caused by the ingestion of a foreign object, such as a toy. This is a serious concern and requires urgent veterinary attention. You should contact your vet immediately or visit the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.

Recurring diarrhea over a short period of time is usually a cause for concern and might even be a sign of a more serious underlying health issue. This is especially true if your pet is very young or very old or has a compromised immune system. Some of these infections can be quite severe, contagious, or even life-threatening. If your pet is experiencing repeated bouts of diarrhea, you should contact your vet right away.

Cats showing other symptoms, in addition to diarrhea, should be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your pet has any of the following symptoms, you should contact your vet right away to schedule an appointment:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Blood in stool
  • Unusual drooling
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken, dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)

If your cat is displaying concerning symptoms, promptly contact your veterinarian. They will determine if an examination and treatment are necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat seems to be suffering from diarrhea, you can reach out to our veterinarians in Lisle. We understand how uneasy this condition can be for your furry friend, and we are here to help.

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Green Trails Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lisle companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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