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Acute Diarrhea in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Acute diarrhea is a common clinical problem in veterinary practice. It is characterized by a sudden onset and short duration (three weeks or less) of watery or watery-mucoid diarrhea. Occasionally the fecal material is also overtly bloody.

Diarrhea results from excessive water content in the feces and is an important sign of intestinal diseases in the cat. Diarrhea can affect your cat by causing extreme fluid loss, which leads to dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, and/or acid-base imbalances.

Please note: If the diarrhea has gone on for more than three weeks, it is considered "chronic diarrhea". For more information on this problem, please read Chronic Diarrhea in Cats. If diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, please read Gastroenteritis in Cats.

General Causes

  • Dietary indiscretion (eating inappropriate food/material)
  • Infectious agents - bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoal, parasitic infections
  • Drugs and toxins
  • Intussusception (telescoping of the bowel on itself)
  • Intolerance of materials in the normal diet
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Metabolic disorders, such as liver and kidney disease

    What to Watch For

  • Passage of loose, watery stools that persist for more than one day
  • A change in the color of the stool
  • Blood in stool
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy, Depression,
  • Fever

    Acute diarrhea is often alarming, but may not be an emergency if your cat is still active, drinking and eating, and is not vomiting. However, acute diarrhea associated with vomiting, lack of water intake, fever, depression, or other symptoms should prompt a visit to your veterinarian.

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