Most cats are prone to gastrointestinal problems and if timely care is not taken, it can prove hazardous to the animal's health. Diarrhea in itself is not a very serious concern, but if it fails to cease in time, it can lead to dehydration and gastrointestinal infection in cats. At times, it is also considered to be a symptom indicating other underlying diseases and therefore, it is essential for every cat owner to know about its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Causes and Diagnosis
There are numerous causes for this disease to affect cats. It can be caused due to stomach or intestinal viruses, fungal or bacterial infection, a weak immune system, intestinal parasites like roundworm, hookworm, Coccidia, or glardia, eating of garbage, a change in diet, food allergies, or food intolerance. Some other causes can be hairballs, allergic reactions, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer of the digestive tract, certain specific medications, or colitis.
Diagnosis can be done by conducting tests for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus to determine the cause. Fecal examination, intestinal biopsy, x-rays, ultrasound, blood count, and blood tests can also be conducted for diagnostic purposes.
The symptoms include vomiting, passing of frequent watery stools, blood or mucus in the stools, increased thirst and loss of appetite, and depression. High fever, lethargy, dehydration, and weight loss may also occur. If any or a few of these symptoms are observed, prompt consultation with a veterinarian is required.
The symptoms when the small intestine is affected differ slightly from when the large intestine is affected. For example, in large intestine diarrhea, there is straining while passing stools and mucous is present. Similarly, the stools are not black and tarry, but have the presence of fresh, red blood in them.
Once the cause of diarrhea is ascertained, appropriate treatment can be administered by a combination of medication and dietary restrictions. Treatment in the form of medication may include anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and electrolytes. Treatment for worms and parasites may also be administered. If the cause of diarrhea is an obstruction or blockage due to eating of garbage, a surgery might be advised.
Along with the medicines, it is essential to include a lot of fluids in the cat's diet. Fresh and light home-cooked food should be incorporated as a part of its diet. For example, you can give your cat some cooked rice along with meat, as rice is easy to digest. Consult with your vet first, however. Avoid giving commercial foods for a few days. If it is due to a food allergy or food intolerance, be sure to eliminate that particular food component from the diet. Water consumption should be increased to ensure that it does not lead to dehydration. Make sure your cat gets adequate rest.
Chronic Cat Diarrhea
Diarrhea that lasts for three to four weeks is referred to as chronic. It is an indication of an underlying intestinal infection or disease. It can lead to weight loss and loss of nutrients that are important to the animal's health. The causes and symptoms are similar to that of diarrhea. The treatment includes medication to eliminate intestinal parasites, antibacterial sulfa drugs to treat coccidiosis and trichomonads, intravenous fluids, and nutritional supplements. Hospitalization may also be required depending upon the condition of the cat.
Prevention of this disease is essential for the overall well-being and good health of your cat. As pet owners, you should look out for any symptoms of diarrhea and treat your feline accordingly.