Chronic Diarrhea in Cats

Chronic diarrhea is a progresses from acute diarrhea. It is described as persistent diarrhea which exceeds three weeks and resulting in loss of body fluids, nutrients and electrolytes.

In most cases, diarrhea in a chronic form is a result of an intestinal disease. Other causes can be linked to untreated acute diarrhea such as infections, Bowel diseases, reactions to known drugs and medications. Clinical signs such as weight loss, shabby appearance (poor coat condition), black often tarry stool, presence of blood and mucus in feces.


The primary cause of chronic diarrhea is a result of intestinal disorder (involving either small or large intestine or both). This can also be caused by irritation, damage to the intestinal lining or blockage (partial) in the intestinal tract. Causes of chronic diarrhea include:
› Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
› Colitis (inflammation of the large bowel)
› Bacterial infections
› Viral infections
› Fungal infections
› Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
› Irritable bowel syndrome
› Parasitic infections such as Giardiasis
› Reactions to known drugs and medications
› Poisoning and toxicity
› Tumors and ulcers
› Cancer (of the intestines)
› Food allergy
› Kidney, Liver and pancreatic diseases
› Hyperthyroidism
› Mal-absorption disorders such as Lymphangiectasia (protein losing disease)
› Mal-digestion disorders
› Dietary changes

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

Common symptoms seen are:
› Pyrexia (Fever)
› Lethargy
› Depression
› weight Loss
› Vomiting
› Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
› Abdominal Pain
› Abdominal Distension (swelling)
› Hematochezia (Blood in stool)
› Mucus in stool
› Recurrent defecation (multiple times a day)
› Dyschezia (Painful defecation)
› Large amount of feces
› Small amount of feces
› Poor coat condition
› Gut sounds
› Black tarry stool


Veterinarians will require a complete history of your cat which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:

› Physical examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Biochemical profile
› Urinalysis
› Fecal Examination to detect parasites
› Electrolyte Panel test
› Abdominal Radiograph (X-rays)
› Thyroid profile test
› Serology test

Once the underlying cause is identified further teats may be recommended on case to case basis.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Sometimes mild diarrhea can resolve without medications. However this should not be practiced. Common treatments include:
› IV Fluids
› Fluid therapy
› Medications to stop vomiting
› Prescription diets
› Dietary changes (warm, moist, non chew-able, low fat high fiber diet should be given. Avoid meat, uncooked food, anything chew-able)
› De-worming drugs
› Surgery (this depends on foreign objects, tumors, blockage)


This is a clinical sign resulting from a disease or condition.

Home Care

Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days to weeks, depending on the severity. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian.

› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your cat. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your cats away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your cat.
› Do NOT allow your cat to roam freely. They like to scavenge especially from garbage bins, leftover food in kitchen.
› Use of environmental disinfectants is recommended. Prompt disposal of any and all materials after use is suggested.
› Routine and regular checkups to access the progress, further tests may be advised. Monitor and administer all medications as directed by your veterinarian and complete the dosage.
› Humans, especially children, pregnant women and ones handling infected pets need to exercise caution. Wear gloves when dealing with a pet, cleaning the litter boxes, disposing any and all contaminated materials, garbage disposals etc. A thorough wash of hands is advised. Practice hygiene.
› Dietary changes to warm, moist food. Avoid feeding meat, uncooked foods, chew-able foods.
› De-worming medications will be given if resulting from parasitic infections.

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