How to Treat Chronic Cat Diarrhea

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Dr. Jane is a veterinarian and blogger for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise,Idaho. Today, I’ll be answering a question about cat health from the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page.

Today, Claire writes:  “Why is it so difficult to treat feline diarrhea? We’ve tried so many probiotics, different foods, etc. Is there anything new to try? Otherwise, my cat is fine.”

I agree with you, Claire. Chronic diarrhea can be real frustrating to treat in cats because there’s so many things that can be causing it. When I see a kitty, as a patient, who’s had chronic diarrhea, if the cat is feeling fine otherwise, like Claire’s cat, then first of all, I like to take some time ruling out some of the more simple things that can cause diarrhea in kitties. I, typically, will make sure that I do a very broad-spectrum dewormer, making sure intestinal parasites are not part of the problem. Then I will use some different foods, like apparently Claire has tried.

The foods that I look at for these cats, first of all I like to try a grain-free diet. Kitties sometimes have difficulties with digesting grains. They’re obligate carnivores, and so their systems were developed to digest meat and not necessarily grains.

Another type of diet is what we call a gastrointestinal diet. These diets typically have a more highly digestible protein, and they’re a little bit easier on the stomach and the intestines. They can sometimes improve the stool consistency also.

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Finally, on some occasions, a true food allergy could be causing gastrointestinal signs, and so I use what is called a hypoallergenic diet to see if there’s improvement in the stool.

If none of those things are making any difference and the cat still has chronic diarrhea, then I tend to get more aggressive with my diagnostics. I will do some blood work and urinalysis. I will also recommend a specific fecal lab work, looking for different types of organisms that are more out of the ordinary. Then finally, I have to consider diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. We usually have to use diagnostics, such as abdominal ultrasound or endoscopy and getting some biopsies of the colon area.

Those are some things to think of in general. I do encourage you, Claire, to keep working with your veterinarian until your kitty’s problem is solved.

If you have any other questions, please post them in the comments section below, or visit the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page. See you next time.

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