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What causes kitten diarrhea?

Kitten diarrhea typically comes from either a parasite problem or a dietary problem.

  • Hookworms and roundworms (both long, white worms that damage the intestines) commonly infest cats. The drug Drontal, prescribed by vets, effectively fights these parasites.
  • Tritrichomonas, a protozoan parasite, can cause persistent diarrhea in kittens. Test kittens for for this parasite.
  • Giardia is a protozoan parasite that can cause diarrhea in kittens. Metronidazole usually works to treat this parasite (although resistance is becoming more common). If your cat doesn’t respond to metronidazole, this is not the problem. Have your vet run a giardia ELISA test to be certain. This is a more precise test to detect the presence of giardia.
  • Campylobacter and clostridium are two bacteria that can also be responsible for kitten diarrhea.
  • Coccidiosis or coccidia is a common parasitic infection in cats that can cause watery diarrhea, sometimes with a little blood – you might see kitten stool with red marks – in kittens. This frequently affects cats that come from pet stores.

Kitten health diagnosis

Parasitic or infectious diarrhea usually can be detected in a stool sample. If your kitten’s stool samples come back negative, talk to your vet about treating this condition, to see if the kitten responds, regardless of results.

The best way to diagnose infectious causes of kitten diarrhea is by a test called a fecal PCR test. This very sensitive test detects minute amounts of DNA from these organisms. Have your vet run this test and prescribe specific treatment based on the test results. If everything tests negative, you may simply have to try a variety of diets until you find one that causes the firmest stool.

Dietary help

Diet can help counter the effects of diarrhea for cats with food allergies or cats with digestive issues.

  • Prescription diet cat foods are made for cats with digestive issues. Some will even support growth in kittens, so a dietary trial with a prescription cat food diet is reasonable.
  • Canned pumpkin adds a little fiber to cats’ food, in the hopes of firming up the stool.
  • Hypoallergenic diets designed for cats with food allergy might also help.

Several kittens in my practice have had chronic diarrhea that tested negative on every test I ran. These kittens simply “outgrew” their diarrhea as they got older, and we never determined the cause of the diarrhea.

All statements and opinions in "What Causes Kitten Diarrhea” are the sole opinions of the I-5 Publishing, publishers of Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy publications and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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