What causes feline diarrhea?

If your cat is passing stool more frequently and in a liquid form, it likely has diarrhea. It can be caused by a number of different things. It may often be difficult for you to see it in cats - if the cat is still successfully using the litterbox, it will be covered up. You will usually be able to tell by looking at the coat of fur around the cat's rear - often you will see stains or clumps of fecal matter there. Because it comes out in liquid form and more rapidly, it will often get lodged in the cat's fur.


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If your cat has diarrhea, you need to be on guard for what is causing it. There are a number of potential reasons:

1) Parasites. Lots of different parasites such as tapeworms, can affect the digestive tract and result in it.

2) Diet problems. There are a number of different reasons for this. If your cat is allergic to some kind of food  it is a likely cause - cats can have this in reaction to dietary changes or an allergy to something they're eating. Your vet can suggest cat foods to try, but you should make sure to bring in detailed information on what you're feeding the cats. Make sure no one is feeding the cat "people food" on the sly - even though they like it, it can cause digestive problems if you give them the wrong stuff.

3) Viral infections. This is especially common with kittens. They're more vulnerable to illnesses that most adults will just shake off.

4) More serious diseases. Diarrhea can be a common symptom of all sorts of diseases that affect a cat's intestinal tract directly or indirectly - from tumors to the feline version of AIDS. If it is the ONLY symptom you're seeing, then these are less likely. If it's accompanied by something else, then you should be more worried.

5) Single-celled organisms or parasites are also a common cause. One of the more likely ones in cats is Giardia, a microscopic parasite that causes it as the primary symptom.

What is the treatment?

The treatment depends on the cause. Your vet will usually take a stool sample to run tests and will do a blood count to rule out more dangerous diseases. Usually the first thing to do is switch the cat's diet to a different formula, encourage it to drink more water, and check for parasites (especially tapeworm segments in the stool). If it continues, you need to investigate to make sure it's not something more serious.

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