Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, just like people, cats can have diarrhea that is caused by a range of agents. In cats her age, this can often be triggered by bacterial agents, viruses, parasites (worms but also protozoa like Giardia, Coccidia, Tritrichomonas), toxins (less likely here hopefully), cancer (ie GI lymphoma –something we do have to consider with older cats with chronic diarrhea), nutritional issues, inflammatory conditions (ie IBD) and general dietary indiscretions. In any case, it can be a wee bit daunting to get to the bottom of which differential is to blame.
Therefore, it is important to approach the situation in a step-by step manner. To start, you can consider addressing a few of these differentials at home. First, you may wish to consider worming Emily if you have not done so recently. While we appreciate that worm induced diarrhea is uncommon in the adult cat, there is no rule that they couldn't be playing at least a partial role and it'd be daft to miss them. To treat for them, there is a range of worming products available over the counter. You can purchase them from your vet or at your local pet stores. Ideally, you want to use a good quality wormer that will clear any worms present effectively. Therefore, it would be ideal for you to treat her with Drontal, Panacur, or Milbemax. If she isn't amenable to tablets or additions to her food, then Advocate/Advantage Multi (LINK) is a spot on treatment against these worms (and fleas too). Once those are ruled out, our next step would try with settling the diarrhea with a light/easily digestible diet. Again not likely to be the only issue, but since there is no rule to say that only one thing can be amiss at a time, it is a good supportive care step to take. Examples of this would be boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used in cases of gastroenteritis (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity). These diets aim for provide nutrition to the stressed gut without making it work hard to digest the food. I would advise frequent small meals to minimize strain on the already stressed gut, and to help lower the volume of diarrhea. As well, do keep a close eye on her water intake and her hydration. Since she is an older lass she will not have the body reserves she used to have. This means that if the diarrhea continues over an extended period of time, she can become dehydrated even if she keeps drinking well. To check her hydration status to make sure she is not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. ( They use a big dog but it makes it easier to see and the principles are exactly the same) If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then you do want to have your kitty seen by her vet before this gets out of control.
If you are concerned that she is becoming dehydrated from the fluid loss via diarrhea, you can try and encourage her to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. If she isn’t amenable to these, you can syringe feed pedialyte. Pedialyte is good here (though aim for a flavourless one since cats don’t love fruit) because it will get both fluids and lost electrolytes back into your kitty. A typical maintenance rate for hydration in an animal is 48mls per kilogram of weight a day. If you do give syringe pedialyte, this should obviously be divided up into multiple offerings through the day rather then all at once. This value will give you the total she needs for the day and is a good starting point to give you an idea of the feline daily requirement. (we aren’t calculating losses, so you can add an equivalent volume to match how much diarrhea is being producing). If she vomits when you have given pedialyte, then therapy should be discontinued (since we don’t want vomiting because of our intervention).
Further to this, if she isn't settling with a light diet alone then we can try a feline safe anti-diarrheals to slow things down for their gut. As I am sure you appreciate, these would not be a cure (since cures would depend on the culprit and might include antibiotics or anti-parasitics, etc.) but would slow the diarrhea to aid the body potentially absorb more water/nutrients then it would have if the diarrhea were unchecked. And giving some more form to her loose stools will help with her fecal control and decrease her accidents. In regards XXXXX XXXXX options for Emily, the one we most commonly use in cats is Kaolin (More Info/Dose) available from your local pharmacy (do avoid using any Pepto Bismol or similar products with aspirin in them) or Protexin Pro-Fiber (which is available OTC at vet practices; example). Both will slow diarrhea safely for a cat and the Pro-Fiber has the bonus of providing support to the delicate good bacteria of the GI.
Furthermore, since this ongoing disease process alongside antibiotic use will be negatively affecting her normal GI microflora (which can also contribute to her diarrhea), you could consider a probiotic support here. One preparation we often use is FortiFlora for Cats (LINK). This produce is quite good for kitties with diarrhea from GI disturbance and will also give her a wee immune system boost. Some vets and pet stores carry it or you can get it online.
Overall, diarrhea can be caused by a wide range of agents. In this situation, since there are a lot of culprits to consider, we would want to take this situation step by step. So, do consider worming her, offering a light diet, and consider a feline safe anti-diarrheal agent. If you find her signs are not settling over the next few days, then it would be worth following up with her vet at that stage. Ideally, you would want to consider bringing in a fecal sample to have analyzed. Depending on the vet’s exam findings and fecal results, this will tell you what agent is likely triggering her signs and what you can do to effectively address them for wee Emily.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )
Thank you Dr B . very comprehensive...just remembered , she was losing a lot of fur, and having a scratch...could this be a clue??
You are very welcome, Ali.I wish it were a clue that we could use but skin irritation and fur loss don't tend to feature in diseases that cause diarrhea. Instead, we'd be more suspicious of itchy based hair losing conditions being due to allergies (ie pollen, flea saliva, food, etc) or bacterial skin infections. The only potential link we'd have to consider is that we can see a decline in skin and coat quality associated with the nutrient loss from the diarrhea. This is because a decline in proper nutrition causes the body to prioritize what organs to "feed" and the skin/coat are not considered as important as internal organs, if you know what I mean.So, it is likely that this is not directly related here and so we cannot rule out any of our original concerns.Take care,