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Q: I have an ordinary house cat named Apollo that is approximately 12 years old and weighs eight pounds, which is his usual weight. He lives with another ordinary domestic house cat who is approximately 15 years old and a Chihuahua who is eight years old. They are all indoor animals and live a nice life in my childless household. Since October 2012, Apollo started to have explosive diarrhea that ranged from a liquid to puree like consistency. As fast as he eats he has diarrhea in return and I am concerned about dehydration. When I took him to the veterinarian, he had a normal check up except for some blood in his urine. I have been giving him an oral antispasmodic drug as prescribed and have also been feeding him a prescription dry cat food. The diarrhea persists to this day and continues to vary in consistency. He does not always use the cat litter box (perhaps he cannot make it there on time). The litter box is cleaned daily. He is only eating his own food. The other pets are fed separately. There haven’t been any environment changes in the household. My only last thought is if cats can have anxiety and/or irritable bowel. I am at a loss as to why the diarrhea started in the first place and continues to persist.

A: Diarrhea in any species can have a whole host of underlying causes, and cats are no exception to this rule. Many times we never find the precise cause of a random bout of diarrhea, but a case of chronic diarrhea warrants further investigation. Since initial testing did not reveal anything significant and symptomatic treatment did not clear things up, it is time to dig a little deeper.
As mentioned earlier, there are many causes of diarrhea and a systematic approach needs to be taken. A follow up physical exam and weight check by your veterinarian would be warranted, at which time further diagnostics may be recommended. This could include an abdominal ultrasound, endoscopy, and/or colonoscopy for biopsies. Also, other medications may be prescribed. Irritable bowel disease is well recognized in cats and is diagnosed through intestinal biopsies which are obtained either surgically or endoscopically.
Your cat at this point needs a thorough examination of his history, lifestyle, and body systems in order to make the best recommendations for his condition. Best wishes for Apollo’s recovery.

Reena Shah, DVM (I-131)

Dr. Shah graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Oradell Animal Hospital and since then has remained on staff. Dr. Shah is involved with Oradell Animal Hospital's radioactive iodine program for the treatment of hyperthyroidism in cats. She likes to cook and spend time with her family.