Diarrhoea is a very common health complaint in cats and kittens. Diarrhoea can range from the occasional ‘soft serve ice-cream’ poo to explosive watery faeces. It is important to monitor your cat’s toileting habits daily to gain an understanding of their ‘normal’ poo, and to identify when problems occur.
Types of diarrhoea: large vs small bowel
Diarrhoea can often be classified as either small or large bowel in origin.
Small Bowel Diarrhoea
- Liquid appearance, may be explosive
- No mucus, black digested blood may be present
- Variation in colour
- Increased frequency of toileting
Large Bowel Diarrhoea
- Soft serve to cow pat appearance
- Mucus or red blood may be present
- Light to dark brown in colour
- Normal to increased frequency of toileting
Occasionally both small and large bowel signs are present, this suggests that the cause of diarrhoea is affecting the entire gastrointestinal tract.
Causes of diarrhoea
There are many different causes of diarrhoea. Younger cats and kittens are prone to infectious causes of diarrhoea. Older cats are more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel conditions or cancer. Some causes of diarrhoea include infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, protozoa or parasites), inflammatory bowel disease, food allergy or food hypersensitivity and some cancers.
What happens at the vet:
You should take your cat to the vet if he/she has diarrhoea. During the visit your vet will question you on the history of your cat, including diet, worming regimen and other signs of illness. A complete examination will be performed which may include a rectal examination.
Samples and pictures of diarrhoea are always helpful when making a diagnosis. If you decide to bring a sample to the vet try to collect it as close to the appointment time as possible.
Based on their findings in consult your vet may recommend further testing be performed, which may include faecal testing for infectious causes, blood testing, x-rays or ultrasound.
Treatment of diarrhoea varies according to cause. Severe cases of diarrhoea may require an overnight hospital stay and IV fluid therapy to maintain hydration. In mild cases diarrhoea can be managed at home. If your vet suspects an infectious cause to the diarrhoea, he/she may prescribe antibiotics for you to give. You may be advised to feed your cat a prescription gastrointestinal food or prepare a bland home diet such as boiled chicken and mashed pumpkin. Closely adhere to any instructions your veterinarian may give you with regards to feeding and medicating.
In all cases of diarrhoea, staying hydrated is extremely important. Ensure that your kitty has access to plenty of fresh water. Encourage water intake where you can. You can do this by providing different types of water containers (ceramic, glass, plastic) in private locations around the house. Mixing some water into food may also help maintain hydration.
When you board your kitty at our cattery, we monitor your felines feces, to ensure they are healthy and comfortable.