What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is the rapid movement of ingested material through
the intestine, resulting in one or more of the following: increased frequency
of bowel movements, loose stools, or increased amount of stool.
Cats usually don’t have diarrhea, at least not when they’re
healthy. When it shows up, it's a sure sign of an internal problem, in
most cases a digestive problem. If the episode of diarrhea is short, it’s
not a problem, and it might be caused by something in the food or water.
As soon as those substances clear its system, the cat should be fine.
Most domestic cats will have diarrhea because their owners
give them human milk. Water and milk shouldn’t be mixed in
a cat’s diet,
as it’s not good for their health. If you like giving milk to the cat,
you should buy some cat milk, instead of using the regular kind that humans
drink. It will cost a little more, but it will not give your cat
diarrhea. There are several brands available at the big chain pet stores
like Petco and PetSmart.
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.
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
- Pale or yellow gums
- 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
(weeks), the diarrhea is called "chronic". If the symptoms appear,
go away, and then come back again over several weeks, the diarrhea is considered "intermittent."
Cat diarrhea can have plenty of causes, so it should be
treated quickly once it is diagnosed. If possible, when you go
to the vet you should take a diarrhea sample with you, so the vet can diagnose
it faster. The faster you can diagnose diarrhea, the faster the cat can
begin the treatment, so they don’t become
dehydrated. Cat's can become dangerously dehydrated very quickly.
How is diarrhea treated?
Because there are so many causes of diarrhea, the treatment
will vary. In many cases of simple diarrhea in adult cats, it is recommended
to withhold food for 12-24 hours, and provide small amounts of water frequently.
Then, a bland diet such as boiled (fat-free) chicken and rice is offered in small
amounts. If the diarrhea does not recur, the cat is slowly switched back to his
normal diet over the course of several days.
For some cases of diarrhea, it may be necessary to modify the
diet permanently. Special foods may need to be given as a way to avoid certain
ingredients, add fiber to the diet, decrease the fat intake, or increase digestibility.
If parasites are present, the appropriate wormer and/or other
medication will be prescribed. Few wormers kill every kind of parasite,
so it is very important that the appropriate wormer be selected. In most
cases it is necessary to repeat the wormer one or more times over several
weeks or months to ensure complete eradication. It is also important to
try to remove the worm eggs from the environment. The fecal flotation test
looks for worm eggs, and if no eggs are being produced, the test could
be negative even though worms could be present. For this reason, in some
cases, even if the fecal flotation test is negative, a wormer may still
If dehydration is present, it is usually necessary to give the
cat intravenous or subcutaneous fluids. Oral fluids are often not adequate
since they pass through the animal too quickly to be absorbed properly.
Antibiotics are given if the diarrhea is caused by bacteria. They may also be
given if the intestine has been damaged (eg., blood in the stool would indicate
an injured intestine) and there is a chance that the injury could allow bacteria
from the intestine into the blood stream, possibly causing severe disease (septicemia).
In some cases, medications may be given to decrease motility,
(slow down the rate at which the intestine moves ingested material through
the intestine). These drugs should not be given if the cat could have ingested
a toxin or may have a bacterial infection, so it is always important to
have an accurate diagnosis before use of these drugs.
When your cat has diarrhea, taking care of her means that you
should take great care in hygiene - after you handle
him you need to wash your hands thoroughly each and every time. One possible
cause for diarrhea in cats can be an infection, so in this case you need
to keep the cat isolated, while all the utensils, foods, litter box and
bedding is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
You should also wear gloves whenever you need to handle
the cat’s stool.
The cat should be kept inside the house for some time, so he doesn’t give
the infection to others. Cat diarrhea is easy to treat in
most cases, as long as you don’t ignore it.