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Cat Digestive Problems

Chandramita Bora Apr 10, 2019
Digestive problems in cats often manifest in diarrhea, vomiting, and indigestion. These problems can be caused by several factors, including parasites and pancreatic insufficiency. Know more about the causes and the symptoms of feline digestive problems.
Like humans, cats are also prone to develop a number of digestive ailments, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and indigestion.
Several factors can disrupt the normal functions of the digestive tract, and cause digestive ailments. So, let's find out more about the causes, symptoms, and the treatment of feline digestive problems.

Digestive Problems in Cats


A number of factors can compromise the health of the feline digestive system, of which pancreatic insufficiency, intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, parasites, parvovirus, and the presence of hair balls in the digestive tract are the most common factors that can cause digestive ailments in cats.
Pancreatic insufficiency refers to a low level of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas. The insufficient secretion of pancreatic enzyme impairs the normal digestion of food. As a result, the affected cat fails to derive enough nutrition from food, which can eventually cause weight loss.
Another common cause of digestive ailments is intestinal obstruction, which can occur due to the ingestion of some indigestible substances like threads, or strings, or some small objects. In such a situation, you may observe your cat trying to throw up or pass stool without any success.
Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by the inflammation of the pancreas, which can cause abdominal pain. Here, the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas do not pass into the intestine. Instead, they get spilled inside the pancreas, and begin to digest the tissues of the pancreas. This causes an inflammation of the pancreas and pain in the abdomen.
Apart from these, cats are likely to ingest or swallow a lot of hair while grooming themselves. Hair or fur is not a digestible substance, and hence, it accumulates in the stomach until the cat throws up the hairball. Parasites like intestinal worms can also cause digestive problems in cats.
The common parasites that can take shelter in the intestine of your pet are, tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Similarly, viral infections caused by parvovirus can also cause a lot of digestive problems.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of this condition can differ from one cat to another. However, the most common symptoms of digestive ailments are, diarrhea, greasy and soft stool, abdominal tenderness, weight loss, and nausea and vomiting.
If your cat is suffering from a worm infestation, you can observe unusual weakness or fatigue, and the presence of blood in his or her stool. An infection caused by parvovirus can cause bloody diarrhea, and yellow or white-colored foamy vomit.


The treatment of this condition depends on the underlying causes. For example, a case of worm infestation usually requires deworming medications, while surgery can be required for treating an intestinal obstruction.
Similarly, the presence of hairballs in the stomach or the intestine may also require surgery at times. However, cats usually do not face much trouble in vomiting hairballs.
On the other hand, antibiotics are usually used to treat an infection caused by parvovirus. A severe infection caused by parvovirus may necessitate the intravenous administration of fluid and antibiotics.
For pancreatitis, veterinarians usually recommend fasting for a day, and subsequently, small and bland meals for a few days. But intravenous administration of fluid and antibiotics may also be required occasionally.
If the symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting persist for several days, then it may indicate a major problem with the digestive system. In such a situation, consult a veterinarian and get the condition properly evaluated to avoid serious complications.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.