Diarrhea in cats can occur due to a number of different reasons. In most cases, cats experience diarrhea from exposure to an outside factor such as parasites, bacteria, or protozoa. Cats can also experience diarrhea as a symptom of a disease or infection.
Causes of Diarrhea in Cats
One of the most common causes of diarrhea in cats is parasites. Hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and whipworms can all cause cats to experience diarrhea. Cats can also have diarrhea if they become infected with certain types of protozoa, like Giardia, which thrive in contaminated drinking water. Parasites normally cause diarrhea to develop over a slow period of time, whereas protozoa can cause sudden and severe diarrhea.
Diarrhea in cats can also occur if the number of healthy intestinal bacteria vs. the number of bad intestinal bacteria becomes disrupted. This disruption can occur from a change in diet, eating foul meats, stress, or a condition, such as colitis, which can interrupt the normal healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. Exposure to bad types of intestinal bacteria, such as bacteria from the Helicobacter genus, can also severely affect healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
In some instances, cats can experience diarrhea due to an underlying disease or infection. Some diseases, such as FeLV or FIV, can cause cats to have diarrhea. An underlying infection, such as an abscessed tooth, can also cause diarrhea in cats. Diarrhea may also occur in cats with underlying medical conditions as a symptom of pain. Many cats do not show any outward symptoms of pain, but the pain can still cause them to develop stress-induced diarrhea.
Preventing Diarrhea in Cats
Check for Parasites
Parasites, intestinal bacteria, a change in diet, a high fat diet, stress, food allergies, and food sensitivities are the main causes of diarrhea in cats and kittens. A regular de-worming schedule, annual fecal examinations, and flea preventatives can help to keep your cat and kitten parasite free. Intestinal bacterial infection risks can be reduced by ensuring that your cat always has clean fresh water and by keeping the litter box clean.
Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet
Feeding your feline a diet that is low in fat and high in protein can help to reduce diarrhea. If your cat may have food allergies, try feeding a diet that has fewer ingredients and high amounts of protein. Special prescription diets that focus on high protein, low fat, and fewer ingredients are available through your veterinarian. While cats and kittens love dairy products these products are notorious for causing diarrhea in cats and kittens, and they should be eliminated from your cat’s diet.
Eliminate Unnecessary Stress
Stress, and a change in diet, may also cause your cat to experience diarrhea. Provide a ‘safe’ place for your cat to reduce stress. Whether this is inside a box, under your bed, or in a hide away kitty condo, let your cat rest peacefully in this place without being disturbed. If you need to change you cat’s diet, introduce new foods slowly.
Chronic diarrhea in cats can often be a sign of illness. Some diseases such as kidney disease, feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, and liver disease can all cause diarrhea. If your cat is suffering from repeated bouts of diarrhea despite preventative efforts, have your cat examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.