August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Some soft stool or diarrhea in cats is common with dietary changes or the stress of adapting to a new environment. If your cat has had a small amount of diarrhea once or twice, and if no other symptoms are present (e.g., vomiting, lethargy, not eating) it is acceptable to be patient and continue to monitor him/her. Continued, frequent or large amounts of diarrhea can be a sign of something more serious and could lead to dehydration and weight loss.

Signs that Your Cat Needs to See a Veterinarian

  • Diarrhea continues for more than a day or two
  • Diarrhea becomes more frequent
  • Large amounts of diarrhea
  • Diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it
  • Diarrhea that is accompanied by other signs of illness (e.g., vomiting, lethargy, not eating)

What You Can Do

  • Closely monitor your cat for the frequency and amount of diarrhea, and whether or not it is bloody or watery.
  • Observe your cat for other signs of illness.
  • Save a fresh stool sample to take to your veterinarian.
  • Give your cat a probiotic such as Fortiflora®, Proviable®, or Benebac®. If you do not have one of these, giving ¼ teaspoon of plain yogurt twice daily is a less ideal alternative.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of canned pumpkin to your cat's food twice a day. Be sure to use real canned pumpkin and not spiced pumpkin pie mix.
  • Encourage your cat to drink more water by using water fountains, running water from faucets, and placing more bowls of fresh water around the house.
  • Feed canned food, which has more water in it, or add tuna juice to your cat's food.
  • If your cat is new to your home, minimize stress by providing hiding places where your cat can retreat without being bothered by people or other pets.

Common Causes of Diarrhea

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Diet changes or dietary indiscretion
  • Stress
  • Infectious diseases
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Treatment of Diarrhea

  • If your cat is dehydrated, intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy will be given.
  • If your cat has intestinal parasites, it will be treated with a de-wormer or an anti-protozoal medication.
  • Medication to stop diarrhea may be prescribed.
  • Prescription diets that are highly digestible or are higher in fiber may be helpful.

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