Dealing with cat diarrhea can be a messy and odorous challenge that many feline owners encounter at some point. Knowing when to seek veterinary attention for your cat’s loose stools is crucial. If you’ve ever wondered about the following questions, read on:
- What is diarrhea in cats?
- Why does my cat experience soft stools?
- What should my cat with diarrhea eat?
- Is a vet visit necessary for my cat’s diarrhea?
- Are there effective at-home treatments for cat diarrhea?
Similar to humans, cats can occasionally experience bouts of diarrhea and stomach upset that resolve on their own. However, it is vital to consult with your veterinarian if the diarrhea is recurrent, accompanied by other concerning symptoms, or lasts longer than a couple of days.
Feline diarrhea manifests as loose, watery stools that might have a more pungent odor than usual and may be accompanied by mucus or small traces of blood. Cats experiencing diarrhea may strain during defecation due to irritation in their digestive tract. They might even have accidents outside the litter tray due to increased urgency and decreased bowel control. Diarrhea in cats can be either acute or chronic, with acute cases lasting less than 24 hours and chronic cases recurring over at least a two-week period. In either situation, there might be an underlying medical condition that requires attention.
Several factors can lead to diarrhea in cats, and it is often a symptom of an issue in the intestinal tract or other parts of the body. Some common causes include:
- Sudden changes in diet
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Dietary indiscretions
- Intestinal worms or parasites
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Metabolic diseases (e.g., kidney or liver disease)
- Ingestion of toxins
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Diagnosing the exact cause of diarrhea in cats can be challenging as it often appears suddenly. For instance, acute diarrhea might result from sudden food changes or a cat nibbling on house plants or human foods. To prevent diarrhea, it is essential to maintain a consistent and balanced diet of nutritionally complete cat food without excessive treats or changes in food type.
Caution must also be exercised with raw diets, as they have a shorter shelf life and spoiled food can trigger diarrhea. Cats can develop food intolerances or sensitivities, and dietary changes can worsen some types of diarrhea, so it’s best to consult a veterinarian before making any adjustments.
In many cases, changing a cat’s food during a bout of diarrhea is unnecessary. Often, feline diarrhea results from ingesting something outside their regular diet, causing stomach upset. Removing all potential hazards, such as houseplants and other items they may nibble on, can help.
Sometimes, a veterinarian might recommend fasting your cat for 12-24 hours to give the gut time to rest. However, fasting might not be suitable for all cats, so professional guidance is essential. After fasting, gradually reintroducing the cat’s regular food can help monitor for improvements. Additionally, offering a bland diet at first might be beneficial, but again, always consult a vet before trying this approach. It’s crucial to keep plenty of water available as diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Consider placing multiple water bowls strategically around the house to encourage your cat to drink more. In some cases, probiotics might be beneficial, but their use should be under the supervision of a veterinarian.
If you’re unsure about your cat’s loose stools, it’s time to see a vet if diarrhea persists for more than 24-48 hours, especially in otherwise healthy adult cats. Severe diarrhea, bloody stools, or accompanying symptoms like vomiting, weight loss, lethargy, or loss of appetite warrant immediate veterinary attention. Senior cats and young kittens are more susceptible to certain medical conditions that can cause diarrhea, making prompt veterinary care crucial.
To determine the cause of diarrhea, veterinarians conduct physical exams and use diagnostic tests such as blood work, fecal exams, and imaging. Identifying the underlying cause helps devise an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment often includes addressing the specific health issue alongside providing symptomatic relief for diarrhea.
While some cases of diarrhea can be managed at home, it’s vital to consult a veterinarian before attempting any remedies. Home treatments, anti-diarrheal medications, probiotics, and dietary changes might worsen the situation if the cause of diarrhea is not known. Symptomatic medication may offer temporary relief but doesn’t address the root cause. Therefore, it’s essential to have a comprehensive treatment plan that targets the underlying issue.
Remember, most cases of diarrhea in cats are caused by minor factors and resolve independently. In some instances, fasting from food for 12-24 hours may be recommended, but this should be discussed with a veterinarian beforehand. Always ensure your cat can access clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration. If your cat’s diarrhea persists beyond 24-48 hours, seeking veterinary testing and appropriate treatment is essential. For acute or chronic diarrhea concerns, you can conveniently discuss them with an online vet through Vetster from the comfort of your home