Diarrhea in Cats: Signs and Symptoms

Your furry friends are part of the family and when your pet is sick, you want to do all that you can to help her or him feel better. At BluePearl Veterinary Partners, we believe that pet families should be educated so that they can provide the best care for their animals.

Diarrhea Basics

Diarrhea in cats is fairly common, but it can be a cause for concern. Characterized by water stool and an increase in the volume of fecal output, diarrhea is the result of an intestinal disturbance. Diarrhea is not a condition on its own, but is usually a symptom of another problem. In general, diarrhea can be divided into two types:

  • Acute Diarrhea: A sudden onset lasting less than two to three weeks
  • Chronic Diarrhea: Lasting more than two to three weeks

When a cat has diarrhea, the feces can be yellow, frothy or bloody and it may contain mucus.

Causes of Diarrhea in Cats

There are numerous conditions that can cause diarrhea in cats, some of which include

  • Colitis
  • Kidney Disease
  • Infection
  • Diet
  • Pancreatitis
  • Toxins
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms That Can Accompany Diarrhea

Cats typically experience diarrhea that affects either the small intestine or the large intestine. If the small intestine is to blame, the volume, frequency and urgency of fecal output are increased. With diarrhea originating in the large intestine, the volume of feces is normal or slightly less than normal, but the urgency and frequency are significantly increased. Mucus and blood may also be present. Some other symptoms of diarrhea in cats you should watch for include

  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst

Determining the Cause

If your cat shows several of the previously mentioned symptoms, it is important to make a visit to your veterinarian. An experienced veterinarian will perform a physical exam and ask questions to determine the source of the diarrhea based on the symptoms your cat has. Tests are often beneficial at narrowing down the cause of your cat’s diarrhea and can include

  • Urinalysis
  • Thyroid tests
  • X-rays
  • Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Fecal examination
  • Blood count

The tests performed on your cat will vary depending on the signs and symptoms present.

Diarrhea Treatment

Treatment options for diarrhea in cats depend largely on the cause of diarrhea. If it is determined that your cat has acute diarrhea, the treatment typically consists of withholding food for a few days to help settle the stomach. Other treatment options for the more complex, chronic cases of diarrhea may include:

  • Surgical removal of a blockage
  • A change in diet
  • Removal of a tumor
  • Antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy

If your cat requires more supportive care, he or she may also receive IV fluids to replace lost fluids or anti-diarrhea medications. We can determine the right course of action for your cat’s specific needs.

Don’t hesitate to contact your family veterinarian if you think your cat has an underlying condition that is causing diarrhea. Your cat cannot tell you what is wrong, but your veterinarian can help determine a cause – and treatment.