Diarrhoea in the cat is defined as an abnormal increase in the frequency, fluidity and volume of faeces due to an excessive faecal water content.
How Diarrhoea Occurs in Your Cat
Diarrhoea in the cat occurs due to changes in the cycle of fluid absorption and secretion across the intestinal wall between the bowel lining and the systemic system. Movement of fluid, nutrients and chemicals across the intestinal wall can be by osmosis (passive) and active with chemical pathways, vitamins, bacteria and energy all being involved. The system is complex and the breakdown of any one component may lead to diarrhoea.
Owner’s Assessment of Diarrhoea
The importance of the cat owner’s assessment is to determine the importance of diarrhoea and whether it warrants professional help by visiting the vet or whether home care and nursing will suffice. The following symptoms of diarrhoea in the cat should be noted:-
- The frequency of diarrhoea? How many times per day?
- How long has your cat had diarrhoea for?
- Are there secondary symptoms accompanying diarrhoea, such as vomiting, temperature rise or straining?
- Does your cat appear bright or collapsed?
- Does your cat have blood or mucus in diarrhoea?
- What colour is diarrhoea; brown, yellow, green?
Unfortunately only experience, common sense and professional knowledge can give you all the answers but the general rule is that if the diarrhoea is only occasional, of recent duration and if your cat is reasonably bright, then probably there is not too much to worry about and, vice versa.
Causes of Diarrhoea
There are too many causes of diarrhoea to list here. However, the article will look at a few of the most interesting causes and solutions.
Parasitism and Diarrhoea
This is divided into Roundworm and Tapeworm categories. Both parasite types are likely to cause diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal upsets. If you have not wormed your cat in the past 3 months it may be worth doing so with Android and Droncit. See Worming in the cat
Infections Causing Diarrhoea
Infections occurring in the upper intestines can be caused by a wide range of pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms). These can range from bacterial infections which may infect ourselves (zoonosis) such as Salmonella and Campylobacter (use gloved hands and antiseptic solutions when handling and cleaning vomit and diarrhoea) to acute viral infections such as Panleukopenia (keep your cat vaccinated) to the occasional bacterial or yeast overgrowth. Parasites as mentioned above as well as the protozoal parasite, Giardia can cause diarrhoea. In most cases, your cat will present the symptoms of brown, fluid, diarrhoea. There may be an increased body temperature and in some cases, vomiting. If your cat is reasonably well and showing just diarrhoea, home nursing may be effective (see below). If there is bleeding in the stomach or upper small intestine (possible ulceration) the faeces may well have a black, tar-like consistency. Serious symptoms warrant veterinary attention.
Infection of the lower colon may manifest in a slightly different way. Mucoid diarrhoea, often associated with training or the sudden requirement to pass faeces and sometimes with red blood streaking is suggestive of colitis. Colitis can be caused by parasites, bacteria, allergies, diet, changes in bowel bacteria and environmental changes or stress.
Dietary Causes of Diarrhoea
Dietary problems are a common cause of diarrhoea whether they are primary (overeating, gorging, too rich, too fatty food) or secondary to some other cause of diarrhoea (such as an infection). If your cat has a delicate stomach we would suggest a low fat, easily digested, medium protein diet fed in several small portions over the day. For upper intestinal disease causing a brown fluid diarrhoea Hills Feline i/d is very effective. However, other intestinal conditions may warrant different dietary approaches. If a dietary allergy is suspected then you will require a unique protein, gluten free, a hypoallergenic diet such as Hills Feline d/d Your veterinarian will advise you.
Metabolic Diseases and Diarrhoea
Kidney disease, liver disease, sepsis, changes in mineral balance can all lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. They usually present with other symptoms as well and will need veterinary attention.
Poisoning as a Cause of Diarrhoea
This is rare in the cat. It depends on the type of poison. If known consult your vet.
Treatment for Diarrhoea
Treatment for diarrhoea depends on the severity of the symptoms. If your cat is reasonably bright, not passing large amounts of blood and not exhibiting any other major symptoms, then home nursing may be all that is required.
Starve for 24 hours
Keep in the house for 3 days with a litter tray to evaluate faeces and to prevent feeding elsewhere.
Remove water and offer Lectade to prevent dehydration. In the first 24 hours, this should be given at the rate of 5 to 10ml every half hour by mouth. This can be continued as per the directions for a further 3 days as required. However, if dehydration is severe, especially if there is concurrent vomiting or the cat is collapsed, you should consult your veterinarian at once.
A bowel regulator such as Perivale will help ease motility, absorb fluid and produce formed motion. This should be started at the beginning of treatment. At the same time, we would try and re-establish normal bowel bacterial flora using a pro-biotic such as Protein
Change to a low fat, low fibre, medium protein diet such as Hills Feline i/d for a minimum of three days (feed 4 small feeds daily).
Worm your pet with tapeworm Droncit and roundworm tablets Android
We would advise that you keep several sachets of Lectade in your cat’s ‘First Aid Kit’ at all times.