When your cat or kitten has diarrhea, it can be upsetting to you and your feline friend. As in humans, the occasional bout of loose stools can be a temporary condition brought about by a run-in with disagreeable food or an intestinal virus. If your pet is behaving normally otherwise and the condition disappears in a day or two, you probably have nothing to worry about.
But that’s not to say that diarrhea can’t be serious. If it’s severe or continues long enough, diarrhea can cause dehydration. And that can be quite serious. Kittens, for instance, can become dangerously dehydrated with frightening rapidity. Severe dehydration can even lead to death.
Chronic diarrhea should certainly be addressed with a visit to your family veterinarian. Likewise, it’s important to note any other signs that may accompany your pet’s diarrhea. Among them are fever, vomiting, blood in the stool, weight loss, and loss of appetite. The combination of diarrhea and any of these or other symptoms could signal a serious illness meriting medical attention. Diseases and conditions that may be associated with diarrhea are numerous.
Additionally, there are some relatively benign culprits that can also cause your pet’s bowel movements to be loose and watery. Start with milk. They may lap it up with apparent pleasure. But, just as in humans who are lactose intolerant, drinking milk can cause a variety of unpleasant intestinal issues for cats. Save yourself and your cat some trouble and resist the urge to serve milk or cream.
Diarrhea is the Symptom—What’s the Possible Cause?
Cats are prone to a number of intestinal viruses that may cause diarrhea. Your family veterinarian can test for infection caused by various viruses including Panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immuno-deficiency virus (FIV), feline corona virus (FCoV), and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). He or she may be able to recommend treatment options.
Bacterial infections are also possible culprits. See your veterinarian to rule out infection with pathogenic bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coli, clostridia and campylobacter. Antibiotic therapy may be in order. In cases of extreme dehydration, your pet may also require intravenous fluids and other forms of supportive care.
Cats are susceptible to several types of parasitic worms. These repulsive creatures reproduce and live primarily in the digestive tract. They can cause bloody stools, lethargy, anemia and even death in untreated kittens. See your family veterinarian for safe and effective worming treatments.
Several protozoan parasites may infect cats, and sometimes, people too. Among these are cryptosporidium, giardia, cocciodosis and tritrichomonas foetus. Any of these may be associated with diarrhea or otherwise abnormal bowel movements in cats. Although these infections are seldom fatal in mature cats, you should certainly see your vet if you suspect your cat(s) may be infected. Some of these parasites have also been linked to human illness, so vigilance is in your own best interest, too.