Diarrhea in Cats

Diarrhea (or diarrhea) is certainly one of the most common symptoms that cat owners come into contact with. But what can cause diarrhea in cats and when should you start worrying? We have summarized the most important information for you in this article.

How Dangerous is Diarrhea in Cats?

Diarrhea is not uncommon in cats and in most cases is not dangerous for the cat. However, there are also more serious causes of diarrhea in cats. Therefore, you should definitely not take the symptom lightly. In addition, diarrhea can be life-threatening, especially in young cats and seniors, but also in other age groups due to the loss of fluids and electrolyte changes.

Causes: How Does Diarrhea Occur in Cats?

If diarrhea has its origin in the gastrointestinal tract, it is divided into small and large intestinal diarrhea. In addition, diseases of other organ systems or various environmental stimuli can also lead to diarrhea in cats.

However, the most common triggers for diarrhea in cats are:

Diet-related diarrhea

Diarrhea in cats is very often the result of feeding errors, food intolerance, and food allergies. In most cases, however, spoiled feed or very rapid feed changes are involved.

Infectious causes

Infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites often play a major role in the development of diarrhea in cats. The most common infectious causes include:

  • Viruses: Cat Disease (Parvovirus), Feline Coronavirus (FCoV), Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Bacteria: Campylobacter, Salmonella
  • Parasites (above all worms): roundworms and tapeworms, protozoa (Giardia, coccidia), Tritrichomonas Fetus

Diarrhea in Cats from Poisoning

Poisons and the use of certain medications (such as antibiotics) can also cause diarrhea in cats. To avoid severe side effects, you should only administer medication after consulting your veterinarian or another competent person.

Metabolic and tumorous causes

Certain underlying diseases, such as inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or thyroid disease, often lead to severe diarrhea in cats. Tumors of the intestine or other organs (paraneoplastic syndrome) also often trigger diarrhea.

Structural changes in the intestine

In some cases, severe constipation (constipation), for example, due to foreign bodies or changes in position within the intestine (kinks or invaginations), leads to diarrhea in cats. In this case, affected cats will usually show additional clinical signs. These include, for example, a rapidly deteriorating general condition or vomiting.

Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Just like humans and dogs, cats can have inflammatory bowel disease. This is an autoimmune disease that is often associated with numerous other symptoms such as fatigue and dull, shaggy fur.

Symptoms: Other Signs of Illness

Diarrhea in cats occurs either suddenly (acute) or over a long period (chronic). There are also big differences in the accompanying symptoms.

While a mild feed intolerance usually leads to no further symptoms, severe infectious diarrhea usually shows additional signs of illness. These can severely affect the general condition of the cat.

The following symptoms are particularly common:

  • Changed manure quality: watery, thin to pulpy
  • Problems/pain when defecating
  • General symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, and fever
  • Blood or mucus in the feces
  • massive water loss (dehydration): weak pulse, fast heartbeat up to cardiac arrhythmias
  • other gastrointestinal complaints: loss of appetite and emaciation, nausea and vomiting, pain in the abdominal area
  • Muscle weakness due to loss of electrolytes

So diarrhea can have a number of other adverse effects on cats. Therefore, you should always take long-lasting or particularly severe diarrhea seriously.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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