Diarrhea refers to the passage of watery or loose stool, and frequent bowel movements. Like humans, cats are also prone to develop this condition due to varied reasons. Feline diarrhea is associated with many diseases or health conditions, some of which are minor, while others can be quite serious. Diarrhea is generally not considered a disease by itself. Rather, it is regarded as an important symptom or sign of some other health problems.
What Causes Diarrhea in Cats?
Mild diarrhea in cats can be caused by a change in their diet, the presence of intestinal parasites, ingestion of certain drugs, and the blockage of the gastrointestinal tract due to the formation of hair balls. Sometimes, it can also be associated with bacterial or viral infections of the gastrointestinal tract, fungal infections, food intolerance or allergies, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, neoplasia, liver diseases, kidney problems, and ingestion of certain substances, such as toxic heavy metals, rat poison, household cleaning products, and certain poisonous plants.
Signs and Symptoms
If diarrhea is not very severe in nature, then the passage of watery stool can be the only symptom of this condition. A mild case of diarrhea is usually not accompanied by any other symptoms. However, severe diarrhea can be accompanied by symptoms like:
- Presence of blood in stool
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Diagnosis and Treatment
The treatment of diarrhea is determined by the underlying causes or health conditions. To determine the underlying causes, a veterinarian can perform several tests, like physical examination, an examination of the stool sample, and X-ray of the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes, a veterinarian can also carry out blood tests, stool culture, certain specific tests for feline leukemia virus and immunodeficiency virus, biopsy of the intestinal tract, and radiography.
On the basis of the results of these diagnostic tests, appropriate medications can be prescribed for treating diarrhea in cats. For example, antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections, while anti-viral medications are used for treating viral infections. Similarly, appropriate de-worming medications are given for intestinal worms. But if diarrhea is caused by a blockage of the intestinal tract, then surgery can be required for its treatment. In the meantime, supportive therapies, like fluid replacement and electrolyte replacement therapy are carried out to speed up the process of recovery.
Along with medications, certain home remedies can also help accelerate the process of recovery. However, these home remedies should be used only after consulting a certified veterinarian. Generally, a bland diet is suggested for cats suffering from diarrhea. But if your veterinarian permits, you can add a small amount of pumpkin to the diet, as it is very rich in many essential vitamins and dietary fiber. It can improve digestion, and provide relief in diarrhea.
Another noteworthy home remedy is slippery elm. This herb can soothe the digestive tract, and is widely available as capsules in many health stores. You can also give probiotic supplements and plain yogurt to your cat with the approval of your veterinarian. Probiotics and yogurt can help increase the population of beneficial bacteria in the bowel or intestine, and thereby boost the digestive health of your cat.
If your cat is suffering from diarrhea, then do not forget to give enough fluid to her, so that she does not become dehydrated. You can also give an electrolyte solution to her, in order to restore the electrolyte balance in the body. To prevent diarrhea in the future, try to avoid frequent and sudden changes in her diet. If your cat experiences diarrhea after consuming a particular food, be sure to report it immediately to a veterinarian. A cat can get stressed quite easily due to a slight change in her environment, which can also lead to diarrhea at times. In such a situation, it is very important to address the issues that are causing stress and anxiety in your cat. However, if your cat experiences severe diarrhea, then get the condition evaluated at the earliest by consulting a veterinarian.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.