My Cat Has Frequent Diarrhea

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, shares pointers for helping a senior cat with bowel trouble.

Posted: November 5, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: My cat has frequent diarrhea, what should I do?

A: Diarrhea is a serious problem for cats, so I always urge my clients to tune into their cat's bathroom habits. Recently one of my friend’s senior cats, Pinky, had a terrible time with cat diarrhea. Pinky had started to show the signs of kidney disease. Nothing severe had appeared, but her vet recommended a change in diet with less protein. Vets commonly suggest this because it is easier for the kidneys to process less protein.

I always suggest introducing new food gradually, mixing old and new for 4 to 5 days, to prevent digestive problems like cat diarrhea. Pinky seemed to love her new food and all went well for a week — and then she started having serious diarrhea. Two days later, my friend called the vet and was told to bring Pinky in (two days for kitties is like two weeks for us.) For nearly a month, all kinds of tests were done, medications tried and different foods offered. Nothing seemed to help poor Pinky and my friend was frantic!  Readers, this was a very unusual case. It has been my experience that this problem can be cleared up within a week with proper care and medication.

Fortunately, Pinky was under constant supervision to prevent dehydration, ensure essential vitamins and avoid going into distress. Her veterinarian prescribed a special medication for feline irritable bowel syndrome. That, along with her old diet, did the trick, thank goodness for all concerned! 

Always call your vet if you see any sustained change in habits such as elimination, eating, drinking or behavior. Senior cats can have a more delicate system, so be careful with their diets. If your cat suffers from diarrhea, it can be messy. Change the litterbox every day and get a package of pet wipes or unscented baby wipes with aloe. Keep plenty of fresh water available. As you wait for her medication to take effect, pet your cat frequently, talk to her and assure her all will be well. I like to think this extra TLC makes a big difference — I know it did with Pinky. As always I welcome your stories and comments.

See more articles by Jeanne Adlon>>

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Reader Comments

lindatt    tampa bay, FL

7/10/2013 6:48:02 AM

my 18 yr cat had big appetite and watery diarrhea.i took it to pet hospital.he said she be ok.gave her diarrhea medicine,but she died on my couch.two loud cries.all four legs stretched out,her mouth opened.i never knew what she had that killed her.

Joanne    Springfield, VA

1/2/2011 11:33:06 AM

Our cat stopped using the litter box and had terrible, loose, foul smelling stools, sometimes with blood in it. She was otherwise a healthy cat and every test the vet did (and believe me it was ALOT and expensive), were all negative. We are now awaiting the results of a test for Tritrichomonas which seems a likely cause. Not much is known about this disease but it is definitely worth people testing for it so that treatment can be given. We have 3 other cats and I believe it can be transmitted to them so if positive, we might have to treat them. My cats brother who we also have is likely to have it and he has loose stool too.

Susan    Dallas, TX

11/21/2010 8:35:22 AM

My cat too has IBD. The doctors advised biopsy of the digestive system but I declined because PansyFace is 10-years-old and very skinny. The alternative treatment was ruling out all possible parasites in his system and giving him prednisolone. I don't know if that is a decision or should I agree with the biopsy which would be a very stressful and risky procedure.

Janice    Pittsburgh, PA

11/19/2010 12:15:32 PM

The following website might help some cat owners whose cat has diarrhea. From what I understand this is a very rare condition and the research and treatment is really new ... I really lucked out when I found info about the condition on the internet a few years ago when I first got Tess ...

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