Cat diarrhea is not really an illness. It is actually a symptom of several different cat illnesses. Cats will occasionally get have diarrhea just like we do. These cases are not unusual and will normally go away after several days. As long as your cat is still eating regularly and no other symptoms are present, then there is nothing to worry about.
Causes of Cat Diarrhea
The primary causes of this harmless form of diarrhea are the consumption of milk (or any other dairy product) or a change in diet. Even though you often see cats drinking milk in movies or cartoons, the reality is that most cats are lactose intolerant. Letting a kitten drink cow’s milk can be very dangerous if they are given too much.
The more problematic causes are things like bacterial infections, food allergies and the presence of worms or parasites in your cat’s bowels. Bacteria such as E. Coli, salmonella, campylobacter and clostridia can cause diarrhea as well as other symptoms such as not eating, lack of energy, temperature and throwing up.
Viral infections can also be the cause of cat diarrhea. The following viral infections can be diagnosed by your vet. They will inform you of the available treatments and recommend what they think is best for your cat.
- Panleukopenia (Cat Distemper)
- Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis
- Feline Leukemia Virus
- Feline Corona Virus
Worm infestations such as roundworm and hookworm are two other possible causes of cat diarrhea.
Roundworms (also called nematodes) are thin worm like creatures that are usually smaller than 2.5 millimetrees (0.1 inches) long. They use small spear-like tip near their mouth to attach themselves to the intestinal lining and suck up the juices. Roundworms are only passed in stool occasionally and are visible to the naked eye. The symptoms of roundworm (in addition to diarrhea) are loss of weight and stunted growth.
Hookworm is a parasitic nematode that infests the small intestine of their host. They are much smaller than roundworm and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Hookworm symptoms (in addition to diarrhea) include throwing up, pale gums, anemia, swollen stomach and blackish colored stool.
Cat Diarrhea Treatments
While there is no treatment for diarrhea, there are a few things you can do to help the problem before you visit the vet. The first thing you should do is not let your cat eat for twenty four hours. Make sure that they have plenty of water to drink during this time. Then you should feed your cat a diet of half boiled rice and half cooked chicken or hamburger for 3 days. Do not feed your cat any dairy products. That will only make matters worse. If the diarrhea does not subside after this period of time, contact your vet.
Dehydration is something you should watch for if your cat has had diarrhea for an extended period of time. This is because the frequent release of diarrhea quickly drains your cat’s body of the water it needs. Check your cat’s gums frequently to see if they are moist and slippery. If you find that they are either dry or sticky, then your cat is probably dehydrated. Another way of checking for dehydration is to pull up the skin on your cat’s back. If the skin slowly sags back to its proper position, then your cat is dehydrated.
Try to get your cat to drink as much water as possible. Oral rehydration treatments can be given to replace the electrolytes lost in the diarrhea. Note: This medication is not a permanent fix and will not cure diarrhea.
Roundworm can be treated with Excel Roundworm De-Wormer Chewtabs.
When to Contact Your Vet
If the diarrhea does not go away after several days or your cat develops other symptoms then you must visit your veterinarian. If you notice that your cat has any of the following symptoms in addition to diarrhea, it is time to contact the vet. They will probably prescribe antibiotics, but they might suggest intravenous fluid replacement and longer term care if the problem is severe.
- Has a temperature
- In Pain
- Throwing up
- Blood in the stool
- Loss of energy, sleeping more
- Loss of weight
- Eating less
- Any other sign of illness