Diagnosing Feline Diarrhea

Most cats experience occasional bouts of intestinal upset, but feline diarrhea is not a condition to be taken lightly. In addition to being painful and uncomfortable for your cat, chronic diarrhea may cause a variety of health problems. Perhaps even more importantly is the fact that feline diarrhea does not occur as an isolated condition. Rather, it is always symptomatic of another, oftentimes more serious medical concern. The fact that a large number of medical conditions may contribute to feline diarrhea makes it a difficult condition to diagnose. However, recognizing the potential causes and symptoms of diarrhea will allow you to identify and treat those conditions promptly.

Causes of Feline Diarrhea

The most common causes of feline diarrhea are viruses and parasites. A number of frequently occurring diseases and intestinal parasites can contribute to diarrhea. Some cats may also experience diarrhea during times of stress, as in when a new animal is added to a home or when a family moves. Finally, another of the most common causes of feline diarrhea is the result of your cat eating food that is inappropriate for his body. When a body cannot process food adequately, diarrhea is a frequent result.

Among many other more serious potential causes of feline diarrhea are the following:

  • Intestinal conditions
  • Infections
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as those due to hyperthyroidism
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancers of the organs of the digestive tract
  • Leukemia
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus
  • Allergies

Symptoms of Feline Diarrhea

If you treat feline diarrhea without addressing the underlying cause of the condition, the symptoms are likely to return in a short time. In a majority of feline diarrhea cases, the virus or parasite will pass naturally in a brief period of time, and your cat's stool will return to normal. One of the key indicators of a more serious condition, therefore, is persistent or chronic feline diarrhea. Whether acute or chronic, feline diarrhea typically involves one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loose stool
  • Blood in stool
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Diagnosing Feline Diarrhea

A diagnosis of feline diarrhea is relatively easy to make, and oftentimes doesn't require a veterinary examination. Simply observing your cat's behavior is oftentimes sufficient to make a diagnosis of the symptom of feline diarrhea. However, it is always advisable that you have a veterinarian examine your cat, particularly if his diarrhea is persistent.

Diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition that has contributed to your cat's diarrhea depends greatly upon your cat's prior medical history, related symptoms and genetic background. A successful diagnosis may require a number of examinations and tests.

If your cat has diarrhea, be aware that this may be a symptom of a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, and take quick action to diagnose and treat the cause of the diarrhea.