Monday, January 11, 2010

Question: Kitten with Chronic Diarrhea

Dr. Schaeberle,

My kitten has chronic diarrhea. What should I do?



Hi Kristi,

As an early member of the American Feline Association in the 1980s, I can recall a lecture at Cornell University about the frustration of treating diarrhea in kittens. Unless the cause was intestinal parasites or a viral infection, we rarely found a cause and most kittens did not respond to treatment. Today, we still struggle with the correct diagnosis and in many cases the treatment.

One theory is that cats are true carnivores unlike dogs and people whom are omnivores. Throughout evolution cats ate rodents with little fat and no carbohydrates. Yet as our pets, we feed them prepared diets that have more fat and carbohydrates. Could it be that it takes months for some kittens digestive systems to adjust to our prepared diets?

Kittens with diarrhea should all have a baseline of routine testing done. At Shiloh Veterinary Hospital, we send our fecal samples to an outside lab in New York where they are best capable of finding more complicated infections such as protozoa. Those samples are also tested for intestinal parasites, which also may cause diarrhea in pets.

As with all kittens, a feline leukemia viral test is done, and if the diarrhea is relatively intense we will also will
run a complete blood cell count.

Treatment can vary from veterinarian to veterinarian but typically involves a broad spectrum dewormer and/or use of an antibiotic for approximately five to ten days along with a prescription diet that is specifically
formulated to help cats that are experiencing diarrhea. However, in some cases we simply need to have patience and realize that by six to eight months of age most of these kittens will be normal and not experiencing any symptoms of diarrhea.

There are only 3 hospitals in the York Area accredited by the AAHA. The Shiloh Veterinary Hospital in Dover, Shiloh Veterinary Hospital East in Manchester and Patton Veterinary Hospital in Red Lion.

Dr. Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

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