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

Seeing your kitty experience severe gastrointestinal discomfort is never great, and unfortunately, conditions like diarrhea can quickly become dangerous. Our veterinarians in Springfield talk about the causes of diarrhea in cats, how to treat cat diarrhea, and when it may be an emergency.

If your cat is experiencing diarrhea, it's natural to want to determine the cause and help them recover from this unpleasant symptom as soon as possible. Here are some of the most typical reasons why your cat might have diarrhea, and when it's necessary to take them to the vet.

Diarrhea in Cats

It's not uncommon for cats to experience mild cases of diarrhea, which can be caused by various factors such as eating table scraps or switching to a new brand of food. However, there are also more severe health issues that could be causing your cat's diarrhea.

Why does my cat have diarrhea?

If f you are wondering what causes diarrhea in cats, the list is just too long. But here are some of the most commonly diagnosed causes of diarrhea in cats:

  • 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

How to Stop Chronic & Acute Diarrhea in Cats

It is important to note that you should never give your cat human medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that work well for people can be toxic to cats.

When it comes to your kitty's health it is always best to err on the side of caution. By taking your feline friend to the vet for an examination you allow your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of your cat's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment. 

That said, your vet's primary focus will be on addressing the underlying cause of your kitty's diarrhea. Once your cat has received a diagnosis treatment can begin to address the problem rather than 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 considering 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 go back to serving the food you gave them previously. 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 microbiome and reduce GI upset.
  • Increase the Amount of Fiber in Your Cat's Diet - Increase the fiber intake of your feline friends by trying them on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet that includes foods such as potatoes or rice mixed with chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, or yogurt. 

When to Seek Emergency Care

If your pet experiences a single episode of diarrhea but is acting normally, it is usually not a cause for concern. However, it is important to keep an eye on your pet's bowel movements to see if the issue resolves. If your cat has two or more episodes of diarrhea in quick succession, it could be a sign of an underlying problem and it's best to seek advice from a veterinarian.

If your pet is straining to pass a stool and only producing small amounts of watery diarrhea, it could be a sign of a serious blockage caused by ingesting a foreign object like a toy. This requires immediate veterinary attention, so it's important to contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital.

Recurring diarrhea over a short period is concerning, especially for older pets, young animals, or those with a weakened immune system. Some infections can be severe or even life-threatening, so it's crucial to contact your vet promptly if your pet is experiencing repeated bouts of diarrhea.

If your cat is displaying additional symptoms alongside diarrhea, it's important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. Contact your vet immediately if your pet has any of the following symptoms 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 showing symptoms that are causing you concern, contact your primary veterinarian or nearest emergency animal hospital as soon as possible. Your vet will let you know whether or not your cat's symptoms indicate that 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.

Does your cat have excessive diarrhea along with other concerning symptoms? Contact our veterinary specialists in Springfield for emergency care right away.

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The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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