Why is my cat having diarrhea?
April 15, 2013 10:30 AM   Subscribe

My cat is pooping on himself. At first, we thought it was because his fur is too long, so we trimmed him. But now we think it's actually diarrhea (and even the blobs are soft) so it's probably more than just a kitten-doesn't-know-how-to-clean-himself problem.

I have two kittens, both 11 months old Siberian Forest Cats. We had them both brought to the vet a month or so after I got them (so about 5 months ago) and they were pronounced to be perfectly healthy.

The girl cat is smaller than the boy cat, 8 lbs vs 12 lbs at last weigh in. So we thought it might be the litter box (being too small or something). We trimmed his fur, but that just means he got it even more all over himself. And actually the quality of poop is different (hers is hard, and his is soft and/or liquidy) so we think it's more of a health issue.

They are fed raw food in the morning (Rad Cat brand) and free fed dry kibble (Origens brand). He seems to eat more of the raw food than she does. There is always water.

We moved about two months ago, but he's had the problem even before we moved. Since we moved, we've had to spray pesticide in the apartment (the pest control people said the cats were safe to roam after everything is dry). But again, this wasn't the start of the problem.

I plan to bring him into the vet. But I don't have a vet right now (I didn't really like the ones we went to earlier), and everything's pretty hectic. So if there are easy things to try in conjunction with visiting the vet, I'd love to hear your suggestions.

posted by ethidda to Pets & Animals (21 answers total)
If your cat's had diarrhea for more than two months as you say, then he needs to see a vet as soon as possible. A hectic life is no excuse for not doing this. Chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration and a dehydrated cat can suffer from kidney failure over a very short period of time. Please take him to a vet.
posted by essexjan at 10:38 AM on April 15, 2013 [10 favorites]

Here are pictures: boy cat, girl cat.
posted by ethidda at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2013

Agreed, vet ASAP. Two months of diarrhea? This is a vet problem not AskMe.
posted by sweetkid at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yep, you need to go to the vet now.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, bring some poop when you go to the vet.
posted by sweetkid at 10:42 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does he act like he is straining when he poops? Goes to the litter box often?

I had this problem with my cat but he is ~8 y/o and it turns out that he has colitis. He was straining a lot to poop in his litter box(so then he just started going on the floor) and then sometimes I would find him hunched up, obviously in pain. I took him to the vet several times and was always given probiotic paste and some pills that worked for the week or two that I gave them to him, but then the problems started again immediately.

Now I buy Dr GoodPet "Probiotics and Prebiotics for dogs & cats" and put a small amount in his wet food each day. It worked almost immediately - his poop is a normal consistency and he hasn't had any problems since I started doing this. I have two cats and I just give it to both of them. There may be other brands out there that work but I went to one of the holistic pet stores and this was the brand they had. It's about $25/bottle but I had spent almost $2k at the vet when I decided to try this so it's actually quite a bargain. It also lasts forever.
posted by fromageball at 10:43 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

It could be something as simple to fix as a sensitivity to something in his food, but you aren't going to figure that out without taking him to the vet. Chronic diarrhea for that length of time is not good. Dehydration can be very hard on a cat. Get him to the vet right away.
posted by something something at 10:44 AM on April 15, 2013

Just want to clarify - he was straining as though constipated but the poop was diarrhea consistency. Also all of the poop tests they did came back normal.
posted by fromageball at 10:45 AM on April 15, 2013

I don't know what is wrong with your cat, but I do know that me as a person has had similar symptoms and duration recently and it turned out to be very serious. Please take your cat to the vet straight away.
posted by angrycat at 10:52 AM on April 15, 2013

My long-haired cat gets irritation from swallowing too much hair (when it doesn't produce hairballs) and that can lead to soft stools for a while. It wasn't serious, but my vet recommended some food that was for GI irritation and then an additional med to ease the discomfort.
posted by bizzyb at 10:55 AM on April 15, 2013

How are his gums? My cat had horrible chronic liquidy poops when he had mouth problems; I think that pathogens in his gums may have been getting into his GI tract and making everything bad down there.

The vet ended up pulling a bunch of his teeth, which was actually really expensive, but subsequently, his poops became totally normal.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:57 AM on April 15, 2013

I've made an 8am appointment for him tomorrow morning, at a cat specialty clinic. I will try to bring poop (if I find any that are his).

The diarrhea would appear for about 3 or 4 days, and then go away for a week or two. Which is why I kept on thinking he's getting better. But apparently not. :( Here's to hoping it's something that's fixable.
posted by ethidda at 11:10 AM on April 15, 2013

I know it is a controversial subject, but the AVMA recommends against feeding raw pet food, due to contamination with a variety of pathogenic organisms. Be sure you tell your vet about their diet.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:13 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pumpkin. (Plain, unspiced, canned pumpkin, organic if you like.)

And yes, vet. Vets often struggle with stuff like this but there can be answers. But purely in the "treating the symptom" category, pumpkin in the dinner is your friend.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:19 AM on April 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you have multiple cats and need help identifying which cat feces are which, shave a crayon into each cat's food (different colors, of course), and make sure your sick cat eats in private until the food is consumed. This is perfectly safe (my vet always gives us crayons when we have to retrieve a stool sample) and effective as long as you use non-toxic crayons (most are).
posted by Young Kullervo at 1:14 PM on April 15, 2013

Make sure that your new veterinarian tests for Tritrichomonas. This requires specialized testing beyond just the fecal flotation/smear routinely done to screen for worms. Some info: here I've seen it more in cats from breeding facilities and those who spent time in shelter (ie: lots of kittehs in one place swapping kitteh poop cooteez) Good luck.
posted by SinAesthetic at 2:14 PM on April 15, 2013

I fed both my cats raw for the first year I had them...

one of them did great, all the things people say about cats on raw were true.

the other one got sick a lot, often had diarrhea, general unhealthiness.

I think raw just doesn't agree with some cats.
posted by euphoria066 at 2:41 PM on April 15, 2013

I have had a cat with chronic colitis that didn't respond to anything (although I never thought at the time to try probiotics; it wasn't something the vet recommended but it might be a thing to try if that turns out to be the issue) and after awhile it just became a "get used to it" sort of thing. Mostly I ended up laundering my comforter cover more often but otherwise it didn't present a huge problem. The cat remained perfectly healthy aside from that for years.

So--it's definitely a vet thing, but it's not a panic thing.
posted by Sequence at 4:02 PM on April 15, 2013

Hi, I'm a veterinary technician. This is not medical advice.

Glad to hear you made an appointment with a veterinarian! There will be a number of diagnostic and treatment options available to you.

For the future, your cats need to see a vet when their symptoms persist for more than 72 hours. Think about how you would feel if you had diarrhea for three days. A trip to get also means symptom relief for your pets.
posted by OsoMeaty at 4:09 PM on April 15, 2013

Our kitty had giardia and ended up in a state like yours....just to add another possibility...

she smelled so much better once we got her some drugs.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:24 PM on April 15, 2013

Just an update: I brought my cat to the vet. They did a check up, looked at the fecal sample, and also did a fecal smear (which is different from the fecal sample). Everything looked good. So that's a relief, at least.

The vet felt around his belly and was apparently able to feel his stools. (He didn't get any raw food this morning.) She also suggested I stop feed raw food and see if that helps, and gave me some probiotics. She said to wait on the pumpkin in case it's not necessary, and not feed any wet food, to constrain the variables. If it doesn't get better within the week, she'll give me antibiotics and more probiotics to reset his system.

SinAesthetic: I didn't get your message until just now, so I didn't have him tested for that. I've visited the breeder's house and everything was very clean and open (not crowded at all) and all the cats were healthy. He's never been to a shelter or a boarding house; we always had a cat/house sitter. (Yes, I probably spoil my cats too much.) So I think it's unlikely, but if the problem doesn't get resolved I'll definitely ask about it.

Thanks for all the comments. I'm a lot less worried about him now but will definitely keep monitoring.

Sequence: Neither my boyfriend nor I would be able to live with a cat who has chronic diarrhea (not their early in his life anyway). I'm actually slightly OCD about everything being super clean, especially when it comes to bodily discharges, and the cat does not like being washed.
posted by ethidda at 12:32 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

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