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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20632
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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3 days ago my cat (16 y.o.) had diarrhea during the night --

Customer Question

3 days ago my cat (16 y.o.) had diarrhea during the night -- some in the litter box but some also on the way into the box, which is very unusual. After that she wouldn't eat. Drank some and had another bout of diarrhea in the box the following day but after that wouldn't drink. Moves as little as possible but I did get her to drink a little bit of water twice today which seemed to revive her for a few seconds both times. Has urinated small amount twice today. Doesn't want me near her -- will let me pat her head 3 or 4 times then attempts to move away so I leave her alone.
I live alone, am 74 and handicapped so I cannot move fast or get down to her level. I do not drive anymore and don't have a car so am very limited, but will do whatever I can to help her. Hope you can help her.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
What did her diarrhea look like? Any blood or mucus?
Has she been showing any retching, gagging, lip licking, drooling, or vomiting?
Can she keep water down?
Are her gums nice and pink (not white/pale)? Moist or sticky?
If you press on her belly, does she have any tensing, tenderness, discomfort, or pain?
Could she have eaten anything she should not have (ie bones, plants, chemicals, human meds, etc)?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Her BM was normal color and formed turning into a lighter color and runny. No blood, etc. She keeps the water down. Due to my handicap I cannot pick her up or examine her guns or belly.
She does go out so I do not know if she got into something. But I don't remember her going out that day. That day she had nothing unusual. Her diarrhea the next day was light tan and had a very foul odor.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you,
Now I am quite concerned about Sweetie, especially if she is off her food/water. This raises concerns that while she has no vomiting, this GI issue triggering her diarrhea is also causing nausea. And often nausea cats refuse to eat/drink as opposed to risking vomiting.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, just like people, cats can have Gi signs of this nature for a range of agents. Common ones include bacteria viruses, parasites, pancreatitis, harmful ingestions of toxins/non-edible items(less likely here hopefully), cancer, inflammatory disease, secondary to metabolic/organ troubles, and general dietary indiscretions. So, we do have a number of considerations for her signs.
With all this in mind, we can try some supportive care for her at this stage. First, since I am concerned that nausea is putting off her food, I would note that you can try an OTC antacid for her. There are a number on the market that can be used in cats. Commonly we use:
*Pepcid (More Info/Dose @
* Tagamet (More Info/Dose Here @
*Zantac (More Info/Dose @
Whichever you choose, they can be given 20 minutes before food. Of course, do double check with her vet if she has a pre-existing health issue or is on other medications.
Once that is on board, we need to start tempting her to eat. Favorites are allowed but to help her GI upset and diarrhea, consider a light/easily digestible diet. 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.
If she refuses, since she hasn't active vomiting, we can try syringe feeding her. If you do so, critical care diets (ie Hills A/D, Clinicare liquid diet) or wet kitten food are ideal. Each has more nutrition per bite, which means we can get more in even if she is taking in little. And this will buy us time to help address her signs and prevent secondary complications (ie fatty liver syndrome) from her anorexia.
As well, do keep a close eye on her water intake and her hydration. I know it will be difficult to handle her in your situation, but we really want to keep a close eye on her. 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 the pet 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 ***** ***** options for kitties, the one we most commonly use in cats is Kaolin (More Info/Dose @ ) available from your local pharmacy or Propectalin or Protexin Pro-Fiber (which is available OTC at vets, pet stores, and even Amazon). Both will slow diarrhea safely for a cat and the last 2 have the bonus of providing support to the delicate good bacteria of the GI. And just to note, do avoid Pepto Bismol (as it contains aspirin) and Loperamide/Immodium (as this can cause sedation and adverse effects in cats).
Overall, her signs do raise some serious concerns. We can try supportive care to see if you can settle the signs at home. If you try the above and she is not improving over the next 12-24 hours (or you are struggling to help her), then do consider following up with her vet at that stage. Since you are not driving, you could see if they can do a house visit or if there is a mobile vet nearby that can come to you. Ideally, we'd want them to examine her +/- test a fecal or blood sample to pinpoint which of the above is to blame. Based on that, they can cover her with broad spectrum antibiotics, anti nausea treatment, and help get this settled for her and her back to eating for us.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
Dr. B.
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