What Causes Chronic Diarrhea in Rescue Cats?


Diarrhea… I am in rescue and the past two years
myself as well as co-rescuers have come up against
diarrhea in cats and kittens that we cannot stop.

Fecals have been done and they are negative. We
have treated with Albon, Flagyl, Panacur, Strongid
(to name a few). Nothing works. These cats are
not related and are in different households.

Without being able to solve this problem we cannot
adopt these cats out and it takes away from each
of us saving others that currently sit on Death
Row. PLEASE help us.

Kitten Lady
New York

Diarrhea has many potential causes in cats. Rescue cats are especially prone to diarrhea caused by parasites. The most common diarrhea-causing parasites in cats are intestinal worms and microscopic organisms called coccidia. Another microscopic parasite, Giardia, also may cause diarrhea especially in stressed cats.

Panacur and Strongid treat intestinal worms. Albon treats coccidia. Panacur and Flagyl treat Giardia. Stool tests that often detect these parasites have repeatedly been negative. It is therefore unlikely that these parasites are playing a role in your problem.

Other common causes of diarrhea include stress (which is common in cats that are in the rescue process), food intolerance, and inflammatory bowel disease. I would not, however, expect any of these conditions to cause an epidemic such as you describe.

There are several other infectious causes of diarrhea, and one of them in particular sounds like it may be the culprit in your cats. A microscopic organism called Tritrichomonas foetus has recently been identified as a cause of diarrhea in cats. In my experience, it is most common in cats from shelters or rescue environments. It causes symptoms exactly like the ones you describe. T. foetus infection is treatable.

There are two major veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the United States. One of them, Idexx Laboratories, has a new test called the RealPCR Feline Diarrhea Panel. The test, which is run on feces, checks for T. foetus and several other infectious causes of diarrhea in cats. I recommend that you find a veterinarian who uses Idexx Laboratories and request this test. I have a hunch that it will help solve your problem.

Photo: Calli Girl has no known history of diarrhea. She is available for adoption.

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.

Let Catster answer all of your most baffling feline questions!

Starting at just


Follow Us

Shopping Cart