5 Signs Your Cat’s Diarrhea May Be Serious
on September 22, 2015
Posted in Cats
Diarrhea is an extremely common occurrence in cats. It means that the stool contains more water than it should. It is also usually accompanied by an increased frequency and volume of stool. Often, a cat with diarrhea will be having stool accidents outside of the litter box because it is hard to hold the loose stool in.
Most of the time, diarrhea in cats is mild rather than serious, and it goes away on its own. However, there are times when loose stool may become serious or be a sign of a more severe condition. It’s important to know when it’s time to call your veterinarian and make an appointment for your cat’s diarrhea.
When Does Cat Diarrhea Mean a Trip to the Vet?
In no particular order, these are the top 5 warning signs related to diarrhea in cats, indicating that it’s time to go to the vet:
1. Diarrhea that continues for more than 48 hours
Most cases of diarrhea in cats will resolve themselves in a day or two. If diarrhea continues much longer than that, your cat runs the risk of becoming dehydrated. Diarrhea lasting two days or more may also indicate that the cause is more serious or requires a treatment other than what the cat’s immune system is able to do on its own.
Loose stool that is accompanied by vomiting
When a cat with diarrhea is vomiting at the same time, the risks of dehydration increase dramatically. Dehydration can lead to listlessness and make it even harder for the cat to recover on her own. If your cat vomits more than two or three times when she is battling diarrhea, she should be seen by a veterinarian.
Lack of appetite occurring concurrently with the diarrhea
If your cat has diarrhea and is simultaneously not eating or drinking, she should visit the veterinarian. When she is not taking in food or water, your cat will be less able to recover from the diarrhea. Lack of appetite may also be a sign that the cause of your cat’s loose stool is a bit more serious.
Diarrhea that looks like coffee grounds or contains blood
A black, tarry, or coffee ground appearance to your cat’s diarrhea indicates that it contains digested blood. This means that blood is entering the gastrointestinal tract at the level of the stomach or small intestines. In this case, your veterinarian should examine and run some tests on your cat to determine the cause of the bleeding.
Your cat is lethargic in addition to having diarrhea.
If your cat is having diarrhea and also isn’t moving around, doesn’t interact with you normally, or generally looks lethargic and sick, she should be seen by a veterinarian right away. This listlessness may be caused by dehydration, but it may also indicate a more serious issue.
Many causes of diarrhea in cats are minor and will resolve on their own in an otherwise healthy cat. It’s important to study the above signs that might indicate that the cause of the diarrhea is more serious so you know when to pick up the phone and consult with your veterinarian.
Sign up for our newsletter and receive more articles and the latest pet health updates and special offers.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan