What should you do if your cat has diarrhoea?
What are the possible causes of diarrhoea in cats?
Essentially, there are many different triggers for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract in cats. Besides physical illnesses, psychological problems such as stress can also cause diarrhoea in your cat.
- Spoiled food
- Food containing milk, sugar or starch (e.g. cakes, sweets, bread)
- Eating mice or other animals
- Feed allergy
- Changing feed too quickly
- Ingested foreign bodies
- Worms and other parasites
- Giardia (ciliates that infest the upper small or large intestine)
- Viruses & bacteria
- Poisoning from cleaning products, poison or poisonous plants
- Various diseases of the stomach or intestines (e.g. pancreatitis, small intestine infection)
- Stress and other psychological factors
- Side effects of medicines such as antibiotics
Good to know!
If the diarrhoea is accompanied by a progressive loss of weight, you should have this checked by a veterinarian. This can be harmful or even life-threatening for the cat. In addition, the weight loss may be caused by an illness for which your cat's diarrhoea is only another symptom.
What are the typical symptoms?
Firstly, if your cat's faeces are not always the same in texture this is completely harmless. Now and then, a softer stool is completely normal and should not cause you any concern. Diarrhoea only occurs when the faeces are extremely soft or thin. If the smell of the faeces changes or is particularly strong, or if the colour of the faeces seems unhealthy, you should keep a closer eye on your cat. The colour and consistency can vary greatly during diarrhoea, but often provide clues to possible causes. Therefore, it is important to ask yourself some questions in order to get a quicker diagnosis from a veterinarian later on.
- What colour is the cat's faeces: light, dark brown reddish or black?
- What is the consistency of the faeces: watery, mushy or slimy?
- Are there worms or blood in the stool?
- Does your cat have a fever? (If the temperature exceeds 39.5°C, go to the vet immediately!)
- Change in behaviour
- Problems holding faeces and urine long enough
- Loss of appetite, cat no longer eats
- Cat no longer drinks
When is it time to go to the vet?
Your cat has diarrhoea – what can you do?
- It is important that you observe the frequency and timing of the abnormal defecation. Both can provide clues about the triggers and help to bring relief to your cat's suffering as quickly as possible.
- If your cat has acute diarrhoea, you should temporarily deprive him/her of food. However, this should last no longer than 10 hours, otherwise your cat may develop a fatty liver. Temporarily depriving your cat of food will help to normalise the imbalance in the digestive system. During this time, you should not let your four-legged friend outside, to ensure that they do not eat anything.
- Provide your four-legged friend with fresh water and check whether he/she is drinking enough. This will help prevent dehydration. It may be advisable to add electrolytes to the water to compensate for the loss of minerals. It is best to discuss this with your vet.
- If your cat's diarrhoea was only acute and completely disappeared after a short time, you can help with home remedies. After the fasting day, feed a light diet to slowly get the stomach and intestines used to food again. Easy-to-digest foods such as boiled boneless chicken with rice and carrots are recommended. In order not to overload the stomach and intestines, you should start with small amounts of food and then slowly increase the amount of food.
- It is always advisable to take a faecal sample with you when you visit the vet. This way, the veterinarian can quickly rule out certain causes and also carry out an analysis to see if a poison is the trigger for your cat's diarrhoea. In this way, a suitable treatment can be initiated more quickly and with a greater chance of success.
- If a food intolerance is responsible for your cat having diarrhoea, an appropriate diet can solve the problem. It is important that you know which foods your cat cannot tolerate. A test at the vet or a so-called exclusion diet can provide information about this. This way you can choose a suitable hypoallergenic cat food that is free of these ingredients.
- If the cause of the indigestion is a worm infestation, the veterinarian will prescribe a worming treatment. This, in turn, may cause your cat to have diarrhoea due to the strength of the worms. As a rule, however, this should only be of short duration, because it serves to get rid of the worms as quickly as possible.
To help determine the cause of the diarrhoea, you should consider whether something abnormal has occurred. This could be, for example, an abrupt change in food, medication or a change in your cat's behaviour.
Preventing diarrhoea in your cat
- Feed your cat a species-appropriate diet
- Do not give your cat human food
- Keep toxic substances such as cleaning products in locked places or places that are inaccessible to your cat.
- Do not plant plants in your garden that are poisonous to cats
- Always keep foreign objects that could be swallowed out of the way.
- Carry out vaccination prophylaxis as well as worming treatments
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