Unlike dogs, cats are very independent when it comes to relieving themselves. Unless you have a litter box in the room with you, most of the time you won’t even know when your cat uses its bathroom. This is because cats are generally discreet about their bodily movements. This also makes it all the more worrying when you find a cat’s bowel movement on the floor. The type of bowel movement can say a lot about your cat’s mental state and health.
For instance, a normal feces on the ground often means a cat is marking its territory or is very dissatisfied with its litter box. On the other hand, diarrhea signifies that there is something wrong with your cat, and that you should probably consider taking it to the vet.
Cat diarrhea is never normal. It means that there is something going on with your cat’s digestive system, whether that means an infection or that your cat didn’t enjoy its dinner. Understanding what causes cat diarrhea is important, as it will help you determine the urgency of the problem. Even if it turns out that your cat’s dinner didn’t agree with it, it is always worth taking your cat over to the vet. In some cases, such as non-stop or bloody diarrhea, you should consider taking your cat in for an urgent visit. Understanding the problem at hand is the first step to solving it and taking care of it.
Is it an Urgent Matter?
First things first, you might be worried if you see that your cat has diarrhea. You might wonder if it is a call to take your cat to an emergency clinic right then and there, or if your cat can stand waiting a couple days for the vet. Diarrhea in cats is always a cause to call the vet, and your vet can often direct you toward taking the cat in for an emergency visit or not. However, it is a good idea to know when diarrhea is more worrisome than others.
Generally, the biggest red flags will be if there are other symptoms alongside the diarrhea. These symptoms include a loss of appetite, lethargy, any pain or discomfort, blood in the diarrhea, and vomiting alongside the diarrhea. Another cause for concern is if your cat will be harmed by the diarrhea itself. This is often the case in cats that are very young, very old, and cats that have additional medical issues.
If there are any of these symptoms alongside your cat being sick, it might be worth it to consider going in for an emergency visit. At the very least, an emergency visit will get your cat the fluids and electrolytes (and potentially food) that it might need.
What Classifies as Diarrhea?
The most important thing to remember when analyzing your cat’s droppings is that you know your cat best. When you clean out the litter box, as much as you don’t want to, you see what is the normal bowel movement for your cat. This will help you identify what bowel movements are considered diarrhea.
There are three main categories of feces that count as diarrhea, and this is where analyzing the feces comes into play. Some feces will be very moist with a distinctive shape (that shape being a pile of feces, rather than a log), but leave a residue when you clean it up. Some feces will almost be the opposite, with no real shape to it, but with a texture, and will also leave residue when you clean it up. The most extreme form of diarrhea is the one that everyone thinks about when they hear the word: watery puddles.
Being able to describe what kind of bowel movements your cat is having will help your vet determine the cause of the diarrhea, as well as the urgency of it. Describing the feces will include a description of the appearance, understandably, as well as the color and smell. Of course, most vets will also ask that you bring in a sample of the feces as well so that it can be examined and tested, and if you ask, most vets will be willing to explain how to collect a proper sample.
What Causes Diarrhea in Cats?
There are a wide range of potential causes for diarrhea in cats and they all surround the intestines. While it will be up to the vet entirely to determine the cause of your cat’s diarrhea, it is always a good idea to be prepared on what you might be dealing with when it comes to your feline friend’s health.
One of the more common causes of diarrhea in cats is food that didn’t agree with the cat. It could be something that your cat wasn’t supposed to eat, such as a plant, or it could be that your cat’s food doesn’t sit well in your cat’s stomach due to allergies or sensitivities. Many times, diarrhea in cats is caused by what the cat put into its gut in the first place, rather than a problem with your cat’s health.
Another common cause of diarrhea in cats is parasites. These parasites can include roundworms, hookworms, and even the infamous tapeworm. Parasites are a risk for both indoor and outdoor cats, although outdoor cats are at an increased risk, as there is no telling what these cats might eat. Parasites enter the cat’s body through their mother (for very young kittens) and through eating “food” that has parasite eggs in it. It is important to note that infections can commonly occur with parasites, which can also cause diarrhea.
Infections can also cause diarrhea in cats, and the list of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that can cause diarrhea is endless. There are even protozoal organisms that can cause infections, if they are somehow ingested. Knowing where your cat has been and whether or not your cat has been injured is important to determine if there is an infection somewhere.
What Can You Do About it?
If you notice that your cat has diarrhea, you might not know what to do at first, after the mess is cleaned up. Always make sure to either note the details about the diarrhea, or even take a picture (or several) to send to a vet about it before you clean it up. There are a couple of things that you can do for your cat’s sake, as well as for the health of your cat.
Something that you will need to remember is never to act on your own if you are trying to take care of a cat that has diarrhea. You should never act without your vet’s advice or instruction, or else you run the risk of causing more problems for your cat. For instance, most over the counter medicines that humans take for diarrhea can be harmful, or even potentially fatal for cats. Putting your cat on a bland diet can just make more trouble for you and the cat without solving the issue when the problem is caused by an infection or parasite.
First things first, after you have made the call to the vet, you should make sure that you are monitoring your cat’s bowel movements. If there is only one episode of diarrhea and your cat seems otherwise unbothered, then there’s a decent chance that the episode was caused by something that the cat ate, or even an episode of severe stress. Of course, you should still take your cat to the vet to rule out anything underlying, but this is something that you can take relief in.
Especially if your cat has watery diarrhea, you should do everything you can to make sure that the cat gets its electrolytes and fluids. Your vet will instruct you on the best way to take care of your cat’s electrolytes. As for fluids, you should make extra sure that water is easily accessible for your cat to get to.