“My cat has diarrhea but seems fine! What should I do?” comes the frantic phone call. Breathe, pet parent. You’ve already done the first best thing you can do for your pet. You noticed.
We suppose there is nothing glamorous about paying attention to the elimination frequency, consistency, and overall demeanor of the eliminator. Nevertheless, it’s something we should be doing for ourselves, our human children, and for our fur babies. It’s easy to watch what goes in, but the way it comes out can be telling.
Knowing your cat’s litter box habits can help you spot a little problem before it becomes much bigger.
In this article:
- Why Does My Cat Have Diarrhea?
- First Aid for Your Cat’s Diarrhea
- Parasites Can Cause Diarrhea
- How to Keep My Cat from Getting Diarrhea
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
Why Does My Cat Have Diarrhea?
When your cat has diarrhea – runny, loose, or liquidy poop – it can be caused by any number of things.
The usual culprits include a change in diet, parasites, stress, or an intestinal bug. Of course, there are also many more serious problems that can upset Kitty’s delicate digestive system.
Things like exposure to toxins, or foreign objects in the intestines because she ate her catnip mouse are also quite common causes of diarrhea.
Liver or kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease (also known as infiltrative bowel disease, or simply IBD), and cancers such as lymphoma or intestinal adenocarcinoma can also introduce themselves with runny stools.
When a cat has diarrhea but seems fine, the problem is most likely that your kitty has eaten something unusual.
Notice that we did not say “bad?” She doesn’t have to eat something toxic to make her sick. Sometimes, it just needs to be different. You may have offered kitty a new brand of food, or fed her soft food when she’s always had kibbles. Perhaps you offered her a bowl of milk and she drank it without telling you she is lactose intolerant. These little upsets are usually easy to handle.
First Aid for Your Cat’s Diarrhea
In some situations, you are safe to monitor Kitty for a day or so. If your cat hasn’t gone droopy, vomiting along with explosive diarrhea, and is otherwise acting normally, take away all food for a period of 12 hours.
Be sure to make plenty of fresh, clean water available for your cat during this time.
This food-vacation will allow whatever is in her system to pass through. After 12 hours offer her a bit of boiled, skinless chicken – a tablespoon or two every few hours. Continue with small amounts of easily digested food at regular intervals until the problem resolves itself. Then you can slowly begin to re-introduce her regular diet.
Feeding your cat a quality food will make a positive difference in your cat’s poop. Poor quality food, like Meow Mix that has corn as the first ingredient, can and will wreak havoc on your cat’s stomach (often resulting in diarrhea).
Instead, try something that has real meat as the number one ingredient. You can find affordable brands using real meat in their ingredients. We use (and Yoda seems to love) the brand Blue Buffalo.
If your cat’s diarrhea continues for more than a day, or other symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, or fever develop, you should see the vet. Don’t forget to take a stool sample from the litter box with you.
Dehydration can become a serious problem when diarrhea goes on for days and/or if there is also vomiting.
Parasites Can Cause Diarrhea
The second most likely cause of diarrhea in cats is parasites. These little hitch-hikers can make all kinds of trouble inside your cat causing diarrhea, but may not always create other symptoms of illness.
Intestinal worms can come from any number of places. Worms are almost certain when you have a new kitten since nursing mothers share any worms they might have with their kittens.
Cats swallow fleas when they groom themselves. All manner of nastiness can be tracked into your house on shoes, including parasites. If yours is a mighty jungle cat who stalks the “big game” in your backyard, he can easily catch and eat an infected rodent or simply walk across some infected fecal matter.
If your kitty is not yet on a monthly heart-worm prevention program, now is a great time to start. These monthly doses contain prevention for intestinal worms as well as protection from deadly heartworm.
How to Keep My Cat from Getting Diarrhea
Here are several ways you can help prevent your cat from getting diarrhea.
Diet Changes + Invest in High-Quality Food
Switching foods can be upsetting to your cat. When you find a food that agrees with your pet, it’s probably a good idea to stick with it. Buying whatever’s on sale may save your budget, but it could create havoc in your cat’s gut. If you want to introduce a new food, do it a little at a time by mixing a small amount of the new food in with Kitty’s normal meal over a period of a week or more.
Always opt for high-quality food. It will save you not only money on preventable vet bills, but your cat will thank you for it.
Cats might love the taste of milk, ice cream, or yogurt but very often they don’t have enough lactase in their bodies to avoid digestive issues. Lactase is the enzyme necessary to digest the lactose in dairy products. Undigested lactose moves to the bowel and ferments causing gas and diarrhea.
Protect Against Parasites & Worms
Your cat will simply be happier if you wage an unrelenting war against parasites. Your feline friend will be more comfortable physically without itchy flea bites, and the worms they cause can become a deadly problem for your pet.
Get the Vaccinations On-Time
Diarrhea is a symptom of many diseases including distemper. If your cat has not had her shots and she develops diarrhea, with other symptoms like a runny nose, contact your vet immediately. Better yet. Get the necessary shots and eliminate the worry.
Keep Your Cat Indoors
Outside cats are exposed to so many dangers that their life expectancy is only two to five years. Indoor cats can often live up to and sometimes beyond 17 years old!
Keeping kitty inside from the beginning is a good plan for many reasons. Your chances of keeping your pet safe from toxins, street dangers, and other animals, (and their diseases) are much, much better if you can keep your cat safely inside. Yoda goes out on his leash when he needs a break from the apartment. 🙂
Final Thoughts: My Cat Has Diarrhea but Seems Fine
When your cat has diarrhea but seems fine, you need to do a bit of detective work. If you’ve just changed food, return to her old brand and then introduce the new food slowly.
Be aware that the younger and smaller your cat is the more dangerous a bout of diarrhea can be. Dehydration can seriously weaken and even kill young animals.
If your cat has diarrhea but seems fine, you’re not out of the woods just yet. Watch for other symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, or fever to develop, or if diarrhea continues for more than a day or two in an adult cat, seek veterinary help.
The fact that you are aware of changes in Kitty’s routine will be extremely useful information for her vet if and when you need to take her there. Good job!
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