Dear VetBabble: My Cat Has Had On-and-Off Diarrhea for Two Weeks, What Should I Do?
One of our readers recently asked us the following question: “My cat has been experiencing off/on diarrhea for 2 weeks. Yesterday, they produced one solid stool and two instances of diarrhea with a large hairball. They seem to be acting fine and there have been no recent changes in food. What advice can you give me? Should I fast my cat for 24 hours and then see a vet if symptoms persist or worsen?”
This is a concern for many pet owners, so we have decided to address this question in a more general context to help everyone understand how to handle similar situations with their own pets. In this article, we will be discussing some possible reasons for your pet’s diarrhea, what steps to take if they experience constipation, and how to handle hairballs in cats.
Understanding the Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea in pets can be caused by a variety of factors, such as dietary changes, stress, or even an underlying medical condition. It is essential to observe your pet and pay attention to any changes in their behavior that may accompany the diarrhea. This will help narrow down the potential causes and determine whether you should be concerned. For instance, our article “Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?” provides helpful insights into some common causes of diarrhea in dogs.
If your cat is experiencing diarrhea and there have been no recent changes in their diet or environment, it is possible that the cause may be hairballs, as mentioned in the original question. Cats groom themselves frequently, and in doing so, they can swallow loose fur, which then forms hairballs in their digestive system. The presence of hair can sometimes irritate their intestines and cause diarrhea.
Dealing with Constipation in Pets
While the reader’s concern was specifically about diarrhea, it’s important to understand that constipation can also occur in pets. Treating constipation often starts by identifying the underlying cause. In some cases, constipation in pets could be due to hairballs, especially in cats. Our article “How Do I Help My Constipated Cat?” provides helpful tips on managing constipation in cats, including how to prevent hairballs from forming.
If you suspect that your pet is constipated, it is important to monitor them closely and consult your veterinarian for advice. They can provide guidance on possible treatments, such as modifying diet, increasing water intake, or using medications to help alleviate the constipation.
Handling Hairballs and Diarrhea
As mentioned earlier, hairballs are a common cause of both diarrhea and constipation in cats. Our article “Hairballs and Cats: What Should I Know?” discusses the importance of regular grooming, using hairball-specific cat foods, and consulting a veterinarian if your cat is frequently vomiting hairballs or struggling to pass them.
If your cat is experiencing diarrhea and you’ve observed a large hairball in their stool, it’s possible that the hairball has irritated their digestive system. In this situation, it may be appropriate to fast your cat for 12-24 hours to give their stomach a chance to settle. However, always consult your veterinarian before restricting your pet’s food intake and monitor them closely during the fasting period.
Furthermore, our article “Diarrhea in Dogs: When to Worry” offers guidance on when to be concerned about your pet’s diarrhea and when to consult your veterinarian. While the article specifically talks about dogs, many of the same principles apply to cats as well.
In conclusion, it’s essential to monitor your pet closely if they experience diarrhea, constipation, or other digestive issues. Seek veterinary advice if your pet’s symptoms persist, worsen, or if you are concerned about their overall well-being.