Diarrhea

Diarrhea occurs when there are excess fluids and water in the gastrointestinal tract. Thus bowel movements and stool become liquefied. Diarrhea is usually not the problem in and of itself but a symptom of a greater problem.

Diarrhea can be caused for many reasons including:

  • Eating spoiled or bacteria ridden food
  • Sudden changes in diet
  • Food poisoning
  • Infectious agents in the body (viral or bacterial or fungal)
  • Lactose or other food intolerance
  • Parasite infection
  • Drugs in the system (steroids, antibiotic, etc.)
  • Toxins in the body (plant fertilizer etc.)
  • Serious disease such as liver disease, kidney failure, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, pancreatic disease, panleukopenia, and cancer
  • Stress

Normally the colon will absorb water from the stool as it passes through. If the stool passes too fast or if the GI tract is secreting fluid, your cat may have diarrhea. If you notice that your cat has diarrhea you should take her to the vet as soon as possible and you might want to try to take a stool sample with you, if possible.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Liquefied stool
  • Lethargy (from water loss or electrolyte imbalance)
  • Dehydration
  • Blood in the stool

Treatment:

The first course of action will be to determine what the cause of the diarrhea is. Your vet may take some blood and do a full work up to check for viruses and bacteria. Your vet may also examine your cat’s urine and fecal samples to look for other illnesses that could be causing the diarrhea.

If your cat is dehydrated due to diarrhea (kittens and cats on the thin side can become dehydrated very quickly through the water lost in diarrhea) your vet may give her fluids intravenously or subcutaneously.

If your cat is otherwise healthy your vet may ask you to withhold food for 24 to 36 hours and then give a small meal. If the diarrhea is gone, it is likely to have been from stress, overeating or a simple food intolerance.

Precautionary measures:

Keep your cat and her environment as clean as possible. Make sure her bowls are clean and free from any bacteria. Also make sure that your cat eats a healthy balanced diet and maintains a low level of stress.