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Cat Diarrhea: Causes & When It's Serious

Cat Diarrhea: Causes & When It's Serious

Diarrhea in cats is a common sign of gastrointestinal distress. Several possibilities could cause your cat to have diarrhea. Today our Grand Prairie vets share what you should know, and what to do if your cat is experiencing diarrhea.

Why Does My Cat Have Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a common sign of an inflamed, irritated stomach and intestines, or gastrointestinal upset. Diarrhea often occurs when that indigestible material makes it's way fully through your cat’s digestive system, anywhere along the intestinal tract.

It would take quite some time to list all of the potential causes of your cat's diarrhea, but below are some of the general categories.

Dietary indiscretion or diet change – Cats tend to be more careful about what they eat than dogs are, but sometimes they do eat inappropriate things like grass, string, etc. Even a purposeful change in diet from one food to another can cause diarrhea

Stress – Just like with people, stress/anxiety/excitement can result in GI upset (especially lower bowel irritation or colitis)

Parasites –  Parasites can irritate your cat’s gastrointestinal, causing all kinds of diarrhea involving the small and/or large bowels. Significant numbers of parasites that cause diarrhea are more common in younger kittens

Infections – Viral or bacterial infections can also cause diarrhea and also occur more frequently in younger cats

Primary inflammatory disorders – Like inflammatory bowel disease in people, inflammatory disorders can cause your cat to develop diarrhea

Metabolic diseases – From disorders of the pancreas or liver to thyroid imbalances, many other problems upset the motility or environment in the GI tract resulting in diarrhea

Medications/toxins – Most know that certain antibiotics can upset the GI tract but other medications and certain toxins can also cause diarrhea

Constipation – Constipation may seem counterintuitive, but I mention it because older cats are prone to developing motility problems in their colons leading to constipation. In these cases, the cats often manage to only pass a small number of liquid stools around the obstruction.

When is it Time to See a Vet?

You know your pet best, so if you are genuinely concerned, play it safe and call your vet. If your kitty has had diarrhea but otherwise seems fine (still running around, playing, etc.), just monitor them to ensure they are behaving regularly and take note of their next bowel movement.

Signs and symptoms that your cat's diarrhea is more severe may include:

  • Lethargy/depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in the stool (either dark, blackish stool or visible, frank, red blood)
  • Pain/discomfort
  • Associated vomiting
  • If your cat is more likely to be quickly compromised by ongoing diarrhea (i.e. very young, very old, or already battling some other medical problem)

How Can I Help Treat My Cat's Diarrhea?

Since there are so many potential causes of diarrhea in cats, you should check with your veterinarian if your cat is having it regularly. Some of these causes need specific therapy, but some of the others may resolve on their own with simple, supportive care.

Whether your kitty has mild or severe diarrhea, it can easily lead to dehydration so ensure your feline friend is drinking plenty of water. 

Ask your vet for home remedies that would be effective for your cat specifically. If your cat's diarrhea persists, don't continue to wait for it to fix itself, seek veterinary care.

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 is having continuous diarrhea, contact our Grand Prairie vets right away.

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