Sunday, January 19, 2014

Should I Be Concerned About My Cat's Diarrhea?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

When deciding whether to worry about your cat's diarrhea, there are several things to consider since diarrhea has many potential causes. Cat owners are often familiar with cats having diarrhea after a sudden food change or eating something they should not.  Some causes of diarrhea are contagious to other animals, as well as humans.  Causes can include:
  • stress
  • medication side effect
  • virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite infection
  • food allergy/intolerance
  • ingestion of toxins or plants
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • disease of the kidneys, liver, or pancreas
  • metabolic diseases like hyperthyroidism
  • certain cancers

Specific patterns of vomiting, correlated with other symptoms, can help your veterinarian determine which diseases are more likely.  This includes: 

Now, how do you decide whether you should go to your veterinarian? Any cat who is having frequent diarrhea for more than 2 days, has blood or worms in their diarrhea, has black tarry diarrhea, is lethargic or hiding, was witnessed eating something inappropriate, is also vomiting, or has stopped eating, should be seen right away by your veterinarian. Other causes for concern are if your cat has diarrhea once weekly or more frequently, has lost weight, has a decreased or increased appetite, or increased thirst or urination.  Additional worries include anal irritation or back end hygiene issues in older, long hair, or overweight cats.  Make sure to take a fresh sample of the diarrhea to your cat's appointment.   

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