Should You Call the Vet If Your Cat Has Diarrhea?

If your cat has diarrhea, you shouldn't necessarily call the vet. The condition may be due to a minor food intolerance or an uneasy stomach, and it will eventually pass. However, it is important to differentiate between a light case of diarrhea and a more severe diarrhea that needs veterinary assistance. When a cat has diarrhea, he passes liquid feces; the cat loses a lot of water and vital nutrients, causing dehydration.

Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea may be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from a change in diet to intestinal cancer.

If you have recently started a new diet for your cat and you haven't made a gradual transition, your cat may vomit and have diarrhea.

Other causes of feline diarrhea include:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Viral, fungal or bacterial infections
  • Hormonal imbalances such as hyperthyroidism
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Bowel or intestinal cancer
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Feline AIDS

If your cat starts having diarrhea, you need to monitor him for other symptoms to establish the severity of the condition.

Warning Signs

A cat having acute diarrhea for less than 48 hours is not a cause for concern. However, chronic diarrhea or loose stools that last for up to a week should alarm you.

You should also call the vet if you notice the followings:

  • Blood in the feces
  • Mucus in the feces
  • Worms or worm segments in the stool
  • Recurrent diarrhea
  • Foul odor
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increase of appetite
  • Dehydration; the cat has pale gums
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Pain when passing feces

Treating Diarrhea at Home

A cat with diarrhea should get special attention. Keep him indoors so that you see if the condition persists. You'll also be able monitor his diet.

Feed him wet food and fiber supplements for the first 24 hours. Canned pumpkin is rich in fibers and may help clear up diarrhea. After 24 hours, you can introduce a bland diet or even dry food.

Make sure your pet gets only fresh water, which can flush out the bacteria and harmful substances that may have caused the diarrhea. Water will also prevent dehydration, which can be fatal in cats with a weaker immune system.

Vet Treatment

If the diarrhea persists after 48 hours, call the vet. Let him know when the diarrhea started, what your cat had to eat and whether there are additional symptoms. The vet will need a sample of the cat's feces and will analyze it, to determine the cause of the diarrhea.

The treatment prescribed by the vet may include:

  • Fluid therapy to prevent dehydration
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs for the stomach and intestines
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Dewormers for parasites
  • Diet rich in fibers
  • Any other treatment specific for other underlying causes of diarrhea

Keep in mind that some bacteria and parasites that cause diarrhea may be contagious for other pets in the house, and even for humans.