In a cat, diarrhea can indicate anything from an upset stomach to a major illness. In order to help your furry friend feel better, you need to understand what is causing the diarrhea and what you can do at home to help.
Causes of Feline Diarrhea
There are many different things that can cause feline diarrhea. Some of those causes are minor and some are more serious.
- Sudden change in diet: If you change your cat's food, be certain to do so in stages to avoid this problem. Begin by giving the cat 25 percent of the new food mixed with 75 percent of the old food for about three or four days. Continue this pattern, increasing the new food in 25 percent increments and reducing the old food in 25 percent increments until your cat is eating 100 percent new food. This gradual change will help prevent indigestion.
- Parasites: Yes, worms can cause feline diarrhea. The diarrhea is simply a symptom of having the worms. This is commonly seen in young kittens. Once the cat is treated for worms and the parasites are gone, most cats will resume normal stools.
- Infection: Both fungal and bacterial infections can cause your cat to have diarrhea.
- Serious Illness: There are some serious illnesses that can cause diarrhea, including the Feline Leukemia Virus or FeLV.
When to Be Concerned
If you had a child, you wouldn't allow that child to go days and days vomiting and experiencing diarrhea without taking him to the doctor. You are probably aware that this could cause serious dehydration and other side effects. The same is true for your fur baby. Felines who have had diarrhea for more than 24 to 48 hours or who also have vomiting should be taken to their vet as soon as possible. The vet may need to rehydrate your cat with an IV.
Also, prolonged feline diarrhea may be the sign of a more serious illness. The vet will likely test your cat for FeLV and a few other communicable feline diseases to rule these out as a cause of the diarrhea.
The treatment for your cat will depend upon the results of the tests your veterinarian runs. If the vet rules out any major health concerns, he may treat the cat for common issues like worms. Many vets will administer fluids to treat the result of the diarrhea which is often dehydration. Occasionally, the vet may feel that antibiotics are a good choice, especially if he suspects a minor infection.
Can Humans Get Sick?
Feline diarrhea often has cat owners asking if they or their children can catch the diarrhea from their pet. While you aren't likely to catch a disease from your cat in most cases, the fecal matter can have an impact on your household. Clean any soiled areas with a good disinfectant and wash your hands thoroughly after handling cleanup or the sick cat. It might be a good idea to isolate your sick cat in a small, contained area with his litter box until he feels better. This will prevent the cat from making a mess all over your house and keep things more sanitary.
After your veterinarian treats your cat for diarrhea, the problem should clear up within two to four days. If the diarrhea persists after this time, please phone your vet and inform him of the problem. He may wish to see your cat again. Also, if you notice any of the following symptoms in addition to the diarrhea, you should take your cat to the vet immediately:
- Extreme restlessness
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Seizures or trembling
- Difficulty breathing