If you live with cats, you will probably eventually have to deal with a bout of cat diarrhea. Unfortunately, this often means that your cat might not make it to the litter box in time to eliminate, leaving you with a mess on the floor. There is an extremely large range of conditions that can cause diarrhea in cats. The most common of these are listed below.
Causes of Feline Diarrhea
Dietary indiscretion means that your cat has eaten something that he shouldn’t have. This happens most commonly in kittens, but it can occur at any age. Human foods, non-food items such as toy stuffing, and plants are all common things for cats to chew on and ingest. When the cat’s intestinal tract is presented with items that are not normal for a cat’s diet, it may respond with inflammation and diarrhea.
Intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, coccidia and whipworms can all cause diarrhea in cats. Having a stool sample checked by your veterinarian twice a year (or more in an outdoor cat) can help identify parasites so they can be treated before they cause diarrhea. Parasites are also a very common cause of diarrhea in kittens.
Fast Diet Change
Cats' intestinal systems don’t handle quick diet changes as well as humans’ do. Changing to a new food abruptly can easily result in diarrhea. If you need or want to make a diet change for your cat, do so very gradually to give his intestinal tract time to adjust to the new diet.
Anxiety is a common cause of diarrhea in cats. Some cats are more easily stressed than others. Some common occurrences that cause stress in cats are:
- Changes in the household: new pets or people or changes in schedules.
- Trips to the veterinarian.
- Boarding at a kennel.
- Parties in the home.
- Visitors staying in the home.
Diarrhea can be caused by medications used for other illnesses, especially antibiotics. If your cat develops diarrhea shortly after beginning a new medication, call your veterinarian to see if another choice might be available.
Certain bacterial and viral illnesses in cats can cause acute or chronic diarrhea.
Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD in cats is a fairly common illness that causes chronic waxing and waning diarrhea. It isn’t known exactly what causes it, but stress and food allergies have both been implicated as having a potential role.
Other Diseases Causing Diarrhea
There are a multitude of more serious illnesses that can result in diarrhea in cats. These include cancer, hyperthyroidism, and pancreatitis.
Alternative Therapies for the Treatment of Diarrhea in Cats
- Slippery elm is an herb that can be used to aid in the resolution of diarrhea in cats.
- Probiotics for cats can help resolve diarrhea and maintain intestinal tract health.
- If your pet is diagnosed with IBD, a homemade or commercial novel protein diet may help resolve diarrhea.
- Acupuncture therapy can be used as part of the long-term therapy for chronic diarrhea in cats as well as during acute bouts.
- Chiropractic adjustments can aid in the treatment of acute or chronic diarrhea.
- TCVM food therapy is a process whereby the individual nutritional needs of the cat are determined based on multiple characteristics such as age, geographic location, personality, and disease process. It can be helpful in the treatment of diarrhea in cats.
Home Treatment of Diarrhea in Cats
If your cat has one episode of diarrhea, it may resolve on its own. If it doesn’t, you may be able to treat it with a bland diet. Withholding food for a period of time (do not withhold water) can help the intestinal tract to rest and the inflammation to subside. Then, feeding a bland diet that is easy to digest can help it heal further. Following are some ways to create a bland diet for your cat:
- Boil lean turkey or chicken to remove even more fat. Mix the cooked meat ½ and ½ with rice, and feed your cat a small amount of the mixture three times a day until the diarrhea has been gone for 24 hours.
- Scrambled eggs and rice can also be used as a bland diet.
- You may add a small amount of plain yogurt if your cat will eat it. The probiotics that it contains can help the intestinal tract recover.
- Canned 100% pumpkin (not pie filling) may be added to the bland diet to help resolve the diarrhea. Ask your veterinarian how much pumpkin you should give your cat.
Never give your cat any over-the-counter medications for diarrhea without speaking to your veterinarian first. Cats are highly sensitive to many medications and this can be extremely dangerous.
When to See the Veterinarian
If your cat has had diarrhea for more than 72 hours, call your veterinarian. Alternatively, call immediately if any of the following signs of illness accompany the diarrhea, as these may be signs of a more serious illness that requires diagnosis.
- Lethargy, or not wanting to move around or play.
- Decreased or absent appetite.
- Blood in the stool.
- Excessive straining to defecate.