There are many reasons you might decide to change your cat’s food. Maybe your vet recommends a special diet to address your kitty’s health, or your pet store has stopped carrying your cat’s favorite food.
Unfortunately, you can’t suddenly stop feeding your cat one food brand and move on seamlessly to the next. There must be a slow and controlled introduction process to avoid tummy upset and diarrhea.
Diarrhea doesn’t have to be a side effect of changing your cat’s diet. Keep reading to learn more about diarrhea and how to properly switch your pet to a new food.
What Is Diarrhea?
Diarrhea refers to loose or unformed bowel movements with an increased amount and frequency. It happens because the fecal matter is moving fast through your cat’s digestive system and your kitty’s system isn’t absorbing water, nutrients, and electrolytes as it should.
Diarrhea is not a disease itself, but it’s a clinical sign of many different diseases. Most of these conditions involve inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria, viruses, and intestinal worms can cause inflammation and diarrhea, as can chemical toxins and exposure to poisonous plants. Of course, food intolerances and sudden changes in diet can also cause diarrhea.
Why Do Diet Changes Cause Diarrhea?
When your cat has been eating the same food for months or even years, their digestive tract adapts to this food. So, adverse side effects may occur if there are any sudden changes to the diet it is accustomed to. The new food can alter your cat’s intestinal environment, leading to gastrointestinal issues. Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common signs that you’ve upset your kitty’s digestive system after a sudden diet change.
Your cat may also refuse to eat altogether. This is called neophobia and occurs when your pet is reluctant to try new food. Some believe that neophobia is a behavior cats engage in to protect themselves from ingesting toxic or tainted food.
How to Properly Change Your Cat’s Diet
Transitioning your cat to a new food should be a multi-day process. It’s not complicated, but there is a right and wrong way to introduce new food.
When Should I Take My Cat to The Vet?
If you’ve transitioned to the new food as slowly as possible and your kitty is still experiencing diarrhea, it may be something other than their food causing the problem. If your kitty has diarrhea and other signs, an underlying health issue could be the culprit.
A visit to the vet is in order to get your pet evaluated to see what the issue could be.
Also, if your cat refuses to eat and doesn’t take in calories for even just one day, you must get them to the vet as soon as possible. A few days of little food and inadequate daily calories can cause your kitty’s body to send fat cells to their liver to convert to energy. Cats’ bodies are not designed to metabolize fat efficiently, and their livers can then start to fail.
How Can I Clean Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is one of those pet messes that can be a real pain. Firmer poops are easy to pick up with a paper towel and buff out of the carpet with a stiff-bristled brush. Liquidy messes like diarrhea are a whole different ball game.
Clean up as much as you can with paper towels. Next, scrub the area with detergent and water. Rinse it, then blot it dry. You’ll need to use a neutralizing product, such as an enzymatic cleaner, to remove the smell and stain.
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Not all cats will get diarrhea when transitioning to a new food. It is not a side effect you should expect to encounter during the process, but know that if it does happen, you may need to scale back a bit. Take your time introducing new food to your kitty to reduce the likelihood of any gastrointestinal upset.
If your cat is struggling with prolonged bouts of diarrhea, it’s time to get them to the vet for evaluation. Diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration which your vet can treat with intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock