A Cat Owner's Guide To Diarrhea

Posted on: 5 May 2020

Cats can be quite secretive when they don't feel well, often hiding their discomfort or pain from their owners. The litterbox can provide a good indicator as to when your cat is sick. Diarrhea, in particular, can indicate a health problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

Possible Causes

There are several things that can cause your cat to develop diarrhea, and many of them are nothing major to be concerned about. The most common reasons for diarrhea are changes to their diet, stress and anxiety, or minor gastrointestinal illnesses that will pass within a day or two. A cat may also develop diarrhea following a short bout of constipation, such as due to hairballs or dietary changes.

There are other causes of diarrhea in cats that can be more concerning, though. Parasites, such as tapeworms, can lead to bowel problems. Certain diseases, like a thyroid issue or bowel inflammation, can also cause diarrhea. A medication reaction or exposure to a toxic substance may also cause bowel problems.

Home Treatment

Most cases of diarrhea in cats can be treated at home. Adjust your cat's food to a high fiber dry food, fed to them in multiple smaller meals throughout the day, to see if this helps. You can add a small amount of wet food if your cat doesn't seem to be drinking water. The wet food will help prevent dehydration. Avoid feeding the cat human food, like fresh or canned fish, milk, or table scraps.

Your vet may also be able to recommend an over the counter anti-diarrhea medication that is safe for your cat. Don't attempt to use medications formulated for human consumption without first talking with your veterinarian.

When to Call Your Vet

Diarrhea typically resolves itself within a day or two. If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, you need to call your vet. If they continue past 48 hours, consider taking your cat to see their vet or to an animal hospital. Prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration, a severe condition on its own, and it may also indicate a more severe underlying problem.

If your cat is lethargic, seems feverish, or is acting oddly in any way, then you need to call the vet immediately. You should also contact an animal hospital if your cat is straining to relieve themselves, yowling in the litterbox, or otherwise seems to be in pain while passing the diarrhea. Blood and mucus in the stool are other red flags for a more serious condition.

Take your cat to an animal hospital or vet if your cat is lethargic, acting oddly, or if there is blood in their stool.