What is Diarrhoea in cats?

Diarrhoea is more frequent, loose watery stools. Usually seen as a symptom of an intestinal upset. Colour change may also be seen and/or a presence of mucus and blood.
Diarrhoea can occur in cats for a variety of reasons affecting any age and can generally be categorised into two forms:
1. Acute Diarrhoea- sudden onset lasting a few weeks.
2. Chronic Diarrhoea – longer than a few weeks.
Our guide contains expert advice from qualified and registered veterinary nurses to help you choose the best course of action for your pet and help answer your question – why does my cat have diarrhoea?

Symptoms and signs of diarrhoea in cats
• Loose or watery stools
• Increase in frequency toileting
• Sudden onset of Diarrhoea
• Weight loss
• Vomiting
• Pale gums
• Weakness
• Anorexia
• Fever
• Dehydration
• Mucus/blood in stools
• Lethargic/Depressed
• Straining to defecate/pass faeces
• Increased drinking

Why has my cat got diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can often present as a result of a number of underlying causes in cats. Your cat may be an avid hunter and scavenge or susceptible to stress. Certain health conditions such as hyperthyroidism in cats or toxins can cause diarrhoea.
Frequent watery stools often with a strong smell or colour change may be seen. In a lot of cases diarrhoea will resolve on its own.
At PetGP our Registered Veterinary Nurses are on hand to offer advice call us at PetGP to help assess.

Telephone the PetGP nurse on 0333 332 7883

Diarrhoea in cats can be caused by several underlying reasons.
• Diet Change – This could be a sudden change in your cat’s food or introduction of a new food. Diarrhoea can also be a result of an intolerance or hypersensitivity often seen in cats fed one food for a long time.
• Medication – a common side effect that can be seen in cats on medication is diarrhoea contacting your vet in this situation is advisable.
• Parasites – worms such as hookworms and round worms can cause diarrhoea in cats.
• Bacterial – Including Salmonella and E.Coli cause side effects including diarrhoea.
• Viral Infections – Felv, FIV, Rotavirus are viral infections often associated with Diarrhoea in cats.
• Systemic Illness – Liver and Kidney disease, Pancreatitis, Diabetes Mellitus and Hyperthyroidism may show signs of diarrhoea in cats.
• Toxins – Some plants, metal such as lead if ingested can cause diarrhoea in cats.
• Fungal – Histoplasmosis rare often caused by inhaling through soil

Triage of Diarrhoea in Cats

Q. Has your cat eaten or been exposed to any possible poisons?
Rule out any possible toxins or poisons your cat may have been in contact with or ingested. Are there any lilies in the house, or has your cat eaten anything unusual? Diarrhoea can be the result of a number of factors but if there is a suspected risk of poison or exposure contact your vet asap.

Q. Is there any blood in the diarrhoea this could be bright red or black?
In cats with Diarrhoea any blood can be a result of straining while passing soft of water diarrhoea. Small traces or flecks may be seen but more than this or any black or dark blood can be a sign of more serious issues.

Q. Has your cat been vomiting?
If your cat is also vomiting the risk of dehydration increases our nurses can help run through some checks to help triage and see how your cat is doing.

Q. Is your cat on any medication?
Some medications may cause side effects, if your cat is on medication any changes to your pet such as diarrhoea should be highlighted to your vet.

Q. How long has your cat had diarrhoea?
A sudden onset of diarrhoea in a healthy cat may happen due to a number of factors such as diet change, scavenging, stress if your cat is well see our guide for why or
Call us At PetGP our Registered Veterinary Nurses are on hand to offer advice call us at PetGP to help assess.

Telephone the PetGP nurse on 0333 332 7883

Diagnosis of Diarrhoea in cats by your vet

Your vet will give your cat a thorough examination and take a full history from you, including any symptoms or changes seen. The vet will determine the best action to take when carrying out a physical examination will check for any such signs including discomfort, dehydration and high temperature. Your vet may want to perform a few tests, including blood tests. A blood sample and urinalysis may be necessary to help highlight any causes of illness. Other tests can be useful, such as faecal samples to confirm parasitic infections or a biopsy from your cat’s intestines for histology. Radiographic x-rays may also be necessary and assist in diagnosing obstructions such as a foreign body.
It will be important for a veterinary professional to know the age of your pet as there are specific complaints that affect kittens and older cats.

Treatment of Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea lasting less than 24 hours in a healthy well cat may be monitored initially and by following certain advice. BUT

Contact Your Vet if:
• Blood/Tar like colour evident
• Lethargic, dull, depressed
• Kitten less than a year old
• Fever
• Signs of pain – unusual posture, vocalisation, hunched.
At PetGP our Registered Veterinary Nurses are on hand to offer advice call us at PetGP to help assess.

Telephone the PetGP nurse on 0333 332 7883

Home management of diarrhoea in cats.

• Step One – Dietary Rest. Cats with diarrhoea do not require a period of dietary rest. In fact feeding your cat will aid their intestinal recovery. The only time a period of rest from food would be advisable would be if your cat was also vomiting. In this instance a period of rest of 12-24 hours may be advisable to allow the stomach/intestines to recover. So long as your cat is not vomiting as well, then ensure that your cat has free access to fresh clean water. Owners regularly report that they never see their cats drink. Water should still be available, and some cats will be stimulated to drink by keeping the water bowl full to the very brim. Do not offer your cat milk as an alternative. Milk is not a drink, it is a food stuff and 10% of cats can suffer an intolerance to cows’ milk which can actually result in diarrhoea. Any cat that suffers from repeated diarrhoea and starts to become unwell should be seen by a vet.
• Step Two – High Digestibility diet. If your cat is not vomiting, then meals can be continued but alterations must be made. A bland protein diet should be fed, including chicken and white fish. There is no need to include carbohydrates, as cats will make best use of protein alone. These meals should be small and fed frequently starting with 5-6 times daily (typically 1-2 tablespoons per meal). If after 2-3 days of feeding this diet the diarrhoea has resolved, then your cat’s normal diet can slowly be reintroduced over a further 3 to 5 days.

Vet Nurse Topical Tips

Be strict and stick to the restricted diet in Step 2. Do not let your cat outside for the restriction period. Furthermore, be careful not to allow your cat to eat the food of any other household pets.

Treatment of Cats with Diarrhoea
• Dietary – avoid any sudden changes and treats to your cat’s diet, where allergies are suspected your vets can suggest options such as a hypoallergenic diet or options to help support your cat.
• Parasites (Intestinal) – worming/anti-parasitic treatment may be needed to remove the cause and supportive care if your cat.
• Bacterial/Viral Infections – Diagnosing to confirm the infection by your Vet along with supportive care, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
• Pancreatitis – Inflammation of the pancreas this may require supportive care for your cat, intravenous fluids, pain relief, antibiotics.
• Hyperthyroidism – Overactive thyroid gland which controls metabolism your vet will use blood test to diagnose an over active thyroid and discuss options for your cats such as medication, surgery or option of radiotherapy
• Obstruction (Intestinal) – this may be in the form of a foreign body or damage to the intestines from trauma your vet will assist with surgery/treatment to remove or pass the blockage.
• Toxins/Poisons – Lilies, chocolate, raisins for example a quick diagnosis is often needed and supportive care, inducing vomiting where appropriate
• Cancer – surgery, chemotherapy
• IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) – supportive, highly digestible diet.
• IBD (Idiopathic Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – highly digestible diet, medication to support the IBD.
• Liver or Kidney Disease – supportive care including, intravenous fluids, medication and a suitable diet.

Prevention of Diarrhoea in Cats

To help avoid the risk of diarrhoea or soft stools in cats, try to make any diet changes gradually. Mix the new food in with your cat’s old food to help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset. Avoid keeping anything toxic such as lilies around your cat when unsupervised.

Frequently asked questions about diarrhoea in cats

My cats got soft stools, runny poo?
If this is a sudden onset of diarrhoea and your cat is eating, drinking and well. It may be an option to try introducing a bland diet and following the home care advice.

What causes cats to have diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea in cats can result from a number of causes such as diet change, scavenging, stress an underlying health issues.

What to feed cats with diarrhoea?
A bland diet of chicken or white fish should be fed.

My cat is constantly visiting the litter tray?
Observe your cat, is your cat passing urine or faeces or neither? Constipation, urinary problems of straining following diarrhoea may require veterinary attention.

My kitten has ongoing diarrhoea?
A kitten with diarrhoea maybe at risk of dehydration contact your vet.

Should I feed rice when offering the bland diet?
No, cats are carnivorous and grains can cause an intolerance.

call us at PetGP to help assess.

Telephone the PetGP nurse on 0333 332 7883