If you’ve been a cat parent for more than a few years, it’s likely you’ve encountered one or two strange sights in the litter box. Maybe your precious pumpkin ate something she wasn’t supposed to and now - bam. There’s that tiny plastic bead that fell off your bracelet the other day and seemingly landed into the abyss. The abyss of your cat’s endless pit of a stomach. Terrific.
But maybe you’ve seen something else a little less “normal” (what is “normal” for cats, though, honestly) while doing your poop-scooping duty. (Doody? HA. Too cheesy?) Aaaanyway. Perhaps, instead of your missing jewelry, what you’re seeing is… dun dun dun, DIARRHEA (please read that in the same voice as the Pepto-Bismol commercial. It’s important.) What could it mean? Does your baby just have an upset stomach, or is there something else going on?
DIARRHEA IN KITTENS
If you are the proud new parent of a teeny tiny baby kitten who is just starting to use the cat box, there may be no cause for alarm. Just like human babies, kittens have really weird, stinky, loose poop. Their tiny digestive systems are probably just getting used to solid foods, givin’ ‘em the loosey gooseys. However, if the diarrhea is persistent and you find blood in the cat box as well, there is a chance that your kitten could have a parasitic infection called coccidiosis, which can be found in baby cats and adults alike. Coccidiosis is a common infection that can affect cats, dogs, chickens, and even goats. But worry not! The prognosis is good. Coccidiosis can be treated with prescription antibiotics, so a trip to the vet should do the trick. Make sure you get your kitten babe to a doctor as soon as possible, though. If left untreated, this type of infection can damage the lining of your cat’s intestinal tract over time.
CHANGE IN DIET
Another cause of diarrhea can be an abrupt change in diet. Have you ever eaten something for the first time and it just… didn’t sit well? Well, the same thing can happen to your furbaby. For instance, they were selling big ol’ bags of cat food down at the Pet Valu for 35% off. 35% off! That’s like, so much! It was the same brand that I usually by for my Marzi girl, but a different flavor, so I thought I was in the clear. So young, was I. So young, and so naive. Her diarrhea was so bad that her butt was encrusted with it. Guys, it was awful. She didn’t even want to clean it off, and I don’t blame her. And like, it was also somehow wet? So when she sat on my bed she left nice little poop stamps all over my comforter wherever she sat down. It was so miserable. Poop was everywhere. We both cried. Never again.
If you do have to change your cat’s diet, however, say - if you need to start feeding her something with hairball control or weight loss benefits - there is a way to go about it that will hopefully curb the whole poop factor. The best way to ease your cat onto a new diet is to mix the new food with her old food until her body gradually gets used to the new stuff. There may be a bit of diarrhea in the cat box for a few days, but better in the poop box than all over your comforter, ya know?
TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED
Have you ever stressed yourself out so much you literally get stress-related diarrhea? Well, your cat can! Which seems a little ridiculous seeing as how they sleep for a million hours a day but come on, it’s hard work being so perfect and adorable 24/7.
On a serious note though, stress can cause a lot of problems for cats, both in and out of the cat box. If your cat has diarrhea, ask yourself if she’s been exhibiting other strange behaviors as well. Has she been unusually skittish or moody? Has she been making herself scarce? Lashing out? All of these are symptoms of a stressed-out gato. The most common cause of stress in cats is a dramatic change to their environment, so start there and ask yourself why your cat is so spooked lately.
Just like humans, cats can experience allergic reactions to certain foods and chemicals. This can result not only in diarrhea but watery eyes, itchy skin and ears, and vomiting as well. If you use harsh cleaning products in your home, consider switching over to something more pet-friendly. Avoid products that have bleach, phenols (such as Lysol and Pine-sol), and formaldehyde.
Cats also do not fare well with cigarette smoke. If you smoke in or around your home and you notice your precious babe exhibiting any of these symptoms, it might be a great excuse to quit! While easier said than done, your baby will thank you.
Other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, kidney and liver disease, colitis and hyperthyroidism can cause diarrhea in cats as well. If you’ve tried everything to subdue your kitty’s bout of diarrhea and nothing has worked, take her to a vet. While her condition may end up with a simple solution to keeping the symptoms at bay, it’s better to find out what’s up ASAP so that you have a head start on fixing the problem. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, and the quicker you find the problem, the better your cat’s chances of recovery are!
Written by Diomira Keane