Help! My Cat Has Diarrhea
Here’s what you can do about it 💩
Cats are known for thinking they're a bit better than the rest of us, and what pet parent can blame them? They're regal, elegant and graceful, all at the same time. But let's face it: Everybody poops.
And sometimes even cats get the runs.
If you’re not sure how to deal with cat diarrhea, don’t worry! We spoke with Kristin Lynn, a licensed veterinary nurse with DodoVet, who explained what causes cat diarrhea and what to do about it.
What is diarrhea?
No matter how much you love your cat, you know that diarrhea means his poop can get pretty gross.
“Diarrhea can be classified as any stool that is softer or looser than normal,” Lynn told The Dodo. “If it seems soft or liquidy, then it is likely your cat is experiencing diarrhea.”
Symptoms of cat diarrhea
If your cat has diarrhea, he might also be pooping more than usual, or even outside his litter box.
In addition to being soft or runny, you may also notice your BFF’s poo also contains:
What does healthy cat poop look like?
Your cat’s poop is healthy if it’s firm and holds a good shape, but isn’t too hard or dry.
“Healthy poop is well shaped and malleable to a small degree,” Lynn said. “You could describe it as similar to clay.”
According to Lynn, you should pay attention to the color of your cat’s poop, too.
“Dark brown in color is normal,” Lynn said. “Any other color is cause for concern.”
If you notice any issues with the consistency or color of your pet’s poo, you should call your vet. And if you’re not quite sure whether your cat’s poop is healthy, a fecal scoring chart can help.
Why does my cat have diarrhea?
There are a bunch of reasons why your cat might have diarrhea, but the most common cause for cat diarrhea is eating something abnormal.
“If they eat something outside their normal diet or have a sudden diet switch, they may experience diarrhea,” Lynn said.
To avoid this, you should only introduce your cat to a new food slowly.
“When changing diets, it is best to slowly transition them to the new food over at least a week,” Lynn said. “Gradually mix in the new food little by little, adding a little more each day. That will allow the cat's digestive system to adapt, and it will lessen the chance of having diarrhea.”
Other causes of diarrhea include:
When to be worried about your cat’s diarrhea
Most cases of cat diarrhea will resolve on their own — if that happens, you have nothing to stress about.
“In the cases where the cat has an isolated incident of diarrhea that resolves spontaneously and doesn’t involve other symptoms, it is not an emergency,” Lynn said.
But there are some instances when you may need to take action.
According to Lynn, you should bring your cat to the vet if his diarrhea doesn’t clear up within two days, or if you spot parasites, blood or mucus in his poop.
“If other symptoms are present such as vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss or lethargy, it is a sign there is something more serious going on,” Lynn said.
And if you have a kitten, you should definitely bring him in if he’s having poo problems because kittens can get dehydrated from diarrhea, according to Lynn.
What to feed a cat with diarrhea
The answer’s simple: Keep feeding him what you usually do.
“It is best to not change their diet as that could cause more problems,” Lynn said. “Switching their diet suddenly can cause diarrhea and stomach upset.”
It’s actually more important to be mindful of what you shouldn’t feed your cat while he has diarrhea.
“It is best to avoid treats or table scraps when your cat is experiencing diarrhea,” Lynn said.
And if you do all that and he still has diarrhea after 48 hours, bring him to your vet. They’ll be able to figure out what’s causing his bowel issues and treat him accordingly.
Cat diarrhea treatment
When it comes to treatment, the best approach is going to depend on the reason why your BFF has diarrhea in the first place.
In some cases, your vet may suggest a special diet (just don’t forget to transition your cat’s food gradually).
“There are some over-the-counter diets that may be labeled for sensitive stomach or digestive problems, but it is best to stick with the veterinary diets,” Lynn said. “The chances of success in curing the diarrhea are significantly increased with the help of a prescription diet.”
You can also try adding probiotics to his diet to help balance his gut bacteria.
There are also special diets for cats with food allergies, which can be helpful if your BFF’s diarrhea is a result of an allergic reaction.
“Those special diets either have a novel protein or are hydrolyzed protein diets,” Lynn said.
(Novel protein doesn’t come from your standard sources like fish or chicken. And hydrolyzed protein has been broken down into such small amounts that your cat’s body wouldn’t react to the allergen.)
So now you know everything you need to know about cat diarrhea. Sure, it’s gross, but it’s also super important to know when it’s OK and when to worry. Plus, you can help out your BFF if he’s having poop problems.
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