Intestinal problems

Types of Cat Diarrhea

Marta SarasĂșa
By Marta SarasĂșa, Psychologist. June 30, 2024
Types of Cat Diarrhea

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Diarrhea in cats is a symptom of many disorders. Although it results as a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, the underlying causes of diarrhea are diverse. They include both physical and psychological health issues. While it is a relatively common disorder in felines, it is also a symptom of certain very serious pathologies. Observing for any concurrent symptoms will help us to know the cause, but the diarrhea itself can help point a veterinarian in the right direction. While various diagnostic tests will be required, the color and consistency of the cat's diarrhea can help guide this diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

At AnimalWised, we look at the different types of cat diarrhea. We provide a cat diarrhea color chart with photos which matches the cat diarrhea type with possible underlying causes.

  1. Types of diarrhea in cats color chart
  2. Types of cat diarrhea according to frequency
  3. Types of diarrhea in cats according to duration
  4. Types of diarrhea in kittens and elderly cats

Types of diarrhea in cats color chart

The color of cat diarrhea can help us to know its cause. This is because different causes produce varying substances which present in the diarrhea and cause discoloration of the stool. While it won't provide a definitive diagnosis, the type of cat diarrhea can help inform the diagnosis by a veterinarian. The below cat diarrhea color chart helps to match the stool color with possible causes:

Yellow or greenish cat diarrhea

Stools that appear yellow or green may indicate some type of problem related to the production, transport or release of bilirubin. It is also possible for stools to appear this color when food is not being absorbed correctly. When this happens, the stool passes very quickly through the digestive tract.

It is also important to consider whether your cat has eaten something that might be green in color. Although the exact reason is not well understood, many cats will eat grass which cannot be easily digested. For this reason, it can cause the appearance of green fibers in their stool. Since they have diarrhea, it is possible they have ingested a plant that is toxic to cats.

Black cat diarrhea

When diarrhea is very dark in color, it can appear practically black. This is most often the result of digested blood. Known as melena, blood that passes through the digestive tract will darken in color as it mixes with digested food and is acted upon by the digestive organs. Since it is partially digested, it means it originates somewhere further up the digestive tract such as the stomach or small intestine.

Causes of internal bleeding leading to melena include ruptured ulcers, parasitical infestations, trauma, foreign objects or organ failure. Other symptoms will present to helps us pinpoint the cause, but dark cat diarrhea indicating internal bleeding is a very serious problem. It requires immediate veterinary assessment. It is possible that something the cat has eaten results in black cat diarrhea, but the risk of serious illness means we shouldn't take a chance.

Learn about the types of intestinal parasites in cats with our related guide.

Red cat diarrhea

When bright red dots or streaks appear in a cat's feces, it implies the cat is defecating fresh blood. Unlike melena which originates further up the digestive tract, fresh blood is undigested and originates closer to the anus. It is usually due to a wound on the anus or rectum. When there is a a small amount of blood, the cause is usually mild and easily treatable.

For cats that have a lot of bloody discharge in their diarrhea, the cause is more serious and will constitute a medical emergency. This implies there is a serious lesion or cause of internal bleeding which could be due to trauma, disease or some health issue related to the colon such as enteritis in cats.

White cat diarrhea

It is very uncommon for a cat to have completely white diarrhea. Cholic stools are those which lack the usually brown color of cat feces. They are most commonly due to either liver problems or an increased calcium intake. This can happen if a cat were to eat a large amount of bone or similar clacium-rich substance, something uncommon in cats.

More common is the appearance of white specks or dots in the cat's diarrhea which appear like grains of rice. These are either worms or the eggs of other parasites which have infested their digestive tract. In these cases, the parasites prevent the cat from properly digesting their food and resulting in diarrhea. Deworming by a veterinarian is necessary as they will need to determine the type of parasite which needs to be eliminated.

Below you can see our cat diarrhea color chart with photos to show examples of these types of diarrhea in cats:

Types of Cat Diarrhea - Types of diarrhea in cats color chart

Types of cat diarrhea according to frequency

When a cat has diarrhea, it is normal for the frequency of defecation to increase. In addition to loose stool, this is a characteristic of the types of diarrhea in cats. Where possible, it is best to take note of the frequency with which your cat uses the litterbox when they have diarrhea. We can provide this information to the veterinarian when we take them for diagnosis.

The following are some of the causes of diarrhea according to the frequency of defecation:

  • Intermittent diarrhea: this occurs if the cat defecates in or outside of the litterbox several times a day with gaps of several hours between each defecation. In these cases, it is implied that the cause of diarrhea is related to diet. Producing loose stools after eating is often associated with an inflammatory problem in the digestive tract. This could be related to malabsorption syndrome in cats or some type of intolerance.
  • Continuous diarrhea: in the event that the feline makes frequent visits to the litterbox with irregular gaps between defecation, it is likely pathological in origin. In these cases, the cat may have a parasitical infestation, gastrointestinal disease or poisoning after ingesting a toxic substance. Again, this will have to be determined by the veterinarian.

Learn about a treatment for chronic loose stills with our article on metronidazole for cats with diarrhea.

Types of diarrhea in cats according to duration

The duration of cat diarrhea also offers us valuable information when determining its cause. The reason will vary depending on whether the diarrhea lasts a short time or more than 24-48 hours. Generally speaking, the longer the duration of the diarrhea, the more serious the cause. With this in mind, we look at how the type of diarrhea may be influenced by duration:

  • Diarrhea for a few hours: if the type of diarrhea in the cat resolves itself within 24 hours, it is likely they have a mild upset stomach caused by something they have eaten. This type of diarrhea is likely watery and large in volume. It should not be a particularly different color to normal stool, although this can depend on what has been ingested. If you see your dog is defecating loose stools like this, you can try removing their food for a few hours to let their digestive tract recover. Always have water available since diarrhea in cats can cause them to become dehydrated. Learn more about treating dehydration in cats at home.
  • Diarrhea for more than 24 hours: when diarrhea lasts more than a day, it is necessary to further investigate its cause. This is because it will likely need a specific treatment to manage the symptom and treat the cause. Prolonged diarrhea is dangerous, especially as it can influence issues such as dehydration. If you notice your cat's diarrhea is not improving or is getting worse after 24-48 hours, you will need to take them to a veterinarian.
  • Chronic diarrhea: sometimes cat may have chronic diarrhea which seems to appear spontaneously. Rather than being continuous or prolonged, it recurs at different times. Pathologies which result in this type of cat diarrhea include inflammatory bowel disease, something which requires management throughout the cat's life. These pathologies may not have a cure, but they can be managed with the use of medication and diet. These may include antibiotics or corticosteroids such as prednisone for cats.

Loose stools are not the only gastrointestinal symptom which can present in cats. Learn more about the reasons cats have diarrhea and vomiting at the same time.

Types of Cat Diarrhea - Types of diarrhea in cats according to duration

Types of diarrhea in kittens and elderly cats

All of the above types can occur in both kittens and adult cats. Special care must be taken with very young and very old cats because they are more immunologically vulnerable. Regardless of age, cats which are otherwise immunosuppressed are also vulnerable to pathologies which can cause diarrhea.

In the case of kittens, their immune system is yet to be properly developed. This means they have trouble defending against microbes and microorganisms which would otherwise be able to quash. As do older cats with diarrhea, kittens can become easily dehydrated. This poses a significant risk to their health and makes them vulnerable to secondary problems. Learn about why a kitten has diarrhea but otherwise acts normal.

If your cat suffers from profuse diarrhea, it is very likely the veterinarian will administer fluid therapy to prevent dehydration. In mild cases, you can help by ensuring you provide fresh and clean water. Wet food can also help the cat ingest more water. Drinking fountains with running water are a good idea as they can help encourage your cat to drink. You can purchase a drinking fountain for cats with the link provided below:

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Types of Cat Diarrhea, we recommend you visit our Intestinal problems category.

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Types of Cat Diarrhea