How To Stop Your Cat's Diarrhea
How to Stop Your Cat's Diarrhea
All cats have digestive troubles from time to time, and diarrhea is not uncommon. Usually, diarrhea lasts a day or so and clears up on its own. Other times, it may last for several days and cause dehydration, weight loss and lethargy. When your cat shows these signs, you'll most likely need to treat her with medication and reconsider her diet.
Treating Your Cat's Diarrhea With Medication
Know when to go to the veterinarian.If your cat has diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, if she's also vomiting, or if she also seems lethargic (more tired than usual) she needs veterinary attention. Call your vet and ask if you should bring a sample of the feces with you in case your veterinarian wants to do an analysis of the specimen.
Take your cat to the veterinarian.Bring a fresh fecal sample that's less than 12 hours old. Small amounts of red blood in the stool may be a minor issue. If the stool appears black and sticky (or “tarry”), it may mean that digested blood is coming from the stomach and that a stomach ulcer may have formed. Your veterinarian will probably do some tests (blood work, fecal analysis for internal parasites, x-rays, ultrasound) and prescribe a medication.
- If your veterinarian finds intestinal parasites in your cat’s stool, the appropriate medication will be prescribed. If it's not an intestinal parasite, the veterinarian may prescribe a medication to slow down the diarrhea, such as Metronidazole, Prednisolone or Tylosin.
Give your cat the prescribed medication.Bring your cat into a small room and shut the door. Hold your cat firmly in your left arm (if you're right-handed) and wrap her in a towel like a cocoon if she will let you. Give the medicine using a syringe (or eyedropper) at the side of the cat’s mouth and administer a little at a time.
- Make sure the cat is swallowing the medicine and not just letting it drip out. Your veterinarian should include a syringe or eyedropper when they dispense liquid medications. It never hurts to ask for a second one just in case you need a back up.
- You may want to give your cat a second syringe with a small amount of room temperature water to swallow: this will help clear the medicine taste from his mouth.
Observe whether the cat improves.Be sure to ask your vet how soon you should see improvement. Some chronic conditions, like inflammatory bowel disease, may need medication for months, perhaps for life.If the treatment plan is working for your cat, the diarrhea should improve or be resolved completely.
- Signs of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are: weight loss, dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your veterinarian will need to run tests to determine if your cat has IBD, chronic diarrhea related to intestinal cancer, or regular diarrhea.
Changing Your Cat's Diet
Consider any changes to the cat's food.If the diarrhea happened within a day or so of changing cat foods or introducing a new food, it could be the new diet. Go back to the old food that was not causing problems and the stool may go back to normal. When the stool is firmed up, try changing the diet very gradually, a little new food at a time.
Consider if your cat has food allergies.If you suspect your cat is allergic to her food, try changing her diet. Food sensitivities (allergies) do occur in cats and may cause diarrhea. So, when changing the diet, make sure the new food has very different ingredients than the old food, otherwise, there may not be much difference to the cat at all.
- Your veterinarian can also discuss with you trying a high fiber diet for your cat. This may include the use of a prescription diet available only through veterinary channels, and not found on the pet store shelves. Royal Canin, Hill’s Prescription Diets and Purina pet food companies have a veterinary-only subset of diets created for special medical conditions.
Gradually introduce a new diet.For some pets, you might slowly introduce a new food. A good ratio might be 90 percent current food and 10 percent new food. Gradually increase the amount until you reach all new food in about 10 days. Let your kitty tell you how fast you can switch to the new diet.
- Other cats may prefer adding 10% new food and remaining at that ratio for 3-5 days before adding in 10% more. There is no hard and fast rule and it is not a race.
Use Metamucil.Adding half a teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil into your cat's food once or twice a day for 5-7 days may help firm things up. Canned plain pumpkin may do the same thing. Both Metamucil and canned pumpkin are high in fiber.
Add probiotics to your cat’s diet.Probiotics add good intestinal “bugs” back into the gastrointestinal system to help rebalance a system that is out of sorts with the diarrhea.An easy and tasty option is FortiFlora for cats, an over the counter (OTC) Purina product.
Offer plenty of water.Water loss can be significant with ongoing diarrhea and your pet can get dehydrated. To detect dehydration, gently pinch the normally loose skin at the back of the neck. When a cat is normally hydrated, the skin snaps right back down. If the pinched skin smooths out slowly, or remains tented, the cat is dehydrated. If the cat appears to be dehydrated, take her to the vet right away.
QuestionMy kitten got diarrhea after a change of diet. She improved, but now the diarrhea has returned and she's having accidents outside the litter tray. What should I do?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerPersistent diarrhea in kittens can be dangerous and is often the result of a parasite or infection, which needs veterinary treatment. In the meantime, give her bland food, such as white meat and boiled white rice or pasta. Do not give her milk. If she isn't wormed, then give her a gentle wormer. If the problem persists, collect a fecal sample for the vet to send off for analysis so that the vet can prescribe a treatment.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat has diarrhea and looks dehydrated. What should I do?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerIf the cat is losing more fluid in the diarrhea than she is drinking, she'll become dehydrated. This is potentially dangerous. Make a vet appointment to treat the diarrhea. In the meantime, gently syringe water or Pedialyte into her mouth, giving a teaspoon (5ml) or more every 30 minutes. Do not give her milk, and offer her bland food to eat, such as chicken and rice.Thanks!
QuestionCan you give a cat Imodium for diarrhea?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerIt's a bad idea to give Imodium to cats. Diarrhea is a way of eliminating toxins from the system. Giving something that shuts the gut down means the cat retains the bacteria or toxins within the intestine that are better gotten rid of.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can you give a cat to stop diarrhea?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerOffer the cat a bland diet of cooked white meat with a little boiled white rice. Mix in some feline probiotics (these are different from human probiotics). If the problem persists, see a vet.Thanks!
QuestionDo cats get diarrhea from worms?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerYes, worms can cause diarrhea in cats. They irritate the bowel lining, causing inflammation and interfering with how the gut digests food.Thanks!
QuestionCan I give my cat banana?rose johnsonCommunity AnswerAccording to PetMD, it is safe to give bananas to cats as healthy snacks. In fact, several fruits and vegetables are acceptable foods for cats.Thanks!
QuestionI picked up a stray cat and fed her, now she has diarrhea, what can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCats who have been living on the street have probably not been eating much. Try feeding her a little less at first so her stomach can get used to it, then increase the amount. If the problem persists, take her to the vet.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat gets diarrhea every time, with whatever he eats.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should take your cat to the vet; there could be a serious medical problem.Thanks!
QuestionCan changing a cat's diet cause diarrhea?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt can. Ideally, make any dietary changes slowly (by mixing in the new food with some of the old, for example). If your cat has diarrhea for more than two days, take it to the vet to prevent dehydration.Thanks!
QuestionIs it safe to give my cat Aristogyl-F?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot without an okay and a specific dosage from a vet! A lot of cat medications are human-use medications in much smaller doses, but not all human-use medications are okay to use on cats. IF the ingredients are all safe for a cat, then the vet will give you a specific dose. This is significantly smaller than a human dose (when my cat was on metronidazole, he got 5mg, not 400mg as in an Aristogyl pill), so the pills have to be cat-sized to prevent an accidental overdose.Thanks!
Can having your cats anal glands expressed cause diarrhea? Perhaps it irritated the nerves? It is taking a few days to firm up, but at least it's not leaking out anymore. Would a probiotic help?
Will this work for a kitten? I have tried medication from the vet and nothing has worked.
How do I stop my cat's diarrhea if it might be caused by allergies?
Can a cat get diarrhea from kidney problems?
My 5 year old cat has diarrhea and I want to give him fresh food. Which is best?
- If possible, determine how the diarrhea started so you can prevent a recurrence. Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), food allergies, renal failure, cancer, poisoning (from houseplants, rat poison, human medications, etc.), and parasites can result in diarrhea. Your veterinarian will need to do tests to find the cause.
- Stress can also cause diarrhea. Changes in the cat’s household like a new person, new pet or new place to live can cause emotional distress for cats. Feliway, an over the counter (OTC) product, can help manage your cat's stress. In severe cases of stress, your cat may need prescription medication. Consult your veterinarian for advice.
- If your cat goes outside, check that your neighbors aren't feeding your cat. Eating too much or eating food they aren't used to can give cats diarrhea.
- Check your yard and your neighbors' yards for poisonous plants that your cat may have nibbled. Your vet should be able to give you a list of poisonous plants.
- You may want to lay down newspaper or absorbent pads to make cleanup easier.
- Confine your cat to a room without a carpet and with food, water and litter until the accidents are under control. This will certainly help with cleanup, but don't do it if it causes your cat more distress.
- Donotscold your cat for the accidents. He can't help it and adding stress will only make his diarrhea worse.
- Veterinarians now warn that Pepto Bismol and Kaopectate can be poisonous to cats due to salicylate toxicity. Check with your vet on the correct medication and dosage for the weight and age of your cat.
- If any humans in your household also have diarrhea, take your cat to the vet and the family member to the doctor right away. There are some invisible (to the naked eye) parasites (giardia and toxoplasmosis) that can infect humans (zoonotic disease), which are challenging to remove. These parasites can become life threatening to small children, elderly adults and those with compromised health.
Sources and Citations
- Jergens A. Feline idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease: what we know and what remains to be unraveled. Journal Of Feline Medicine And Surgery [serial online]. July 2012;14(7):445-458.
- Vet reference, somewhat technical.
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