If your cat has persistent diarrhea, take an adult cat to the vet if symptoms have continued for more than 2 days. Take a stool sample with you and have the vet check for parasites and/or fever.
If your kitten has diarrhea, is weak or listless, or refuses to take fluids take it to your vet straight away at the 1st signs. Dehydration can rapidly kill a kitten.
You can try changing within the 1st 2 days (temporarily) the adult cat's diet to one or more of the following (depending on the cat's preferences):
baby food (strained meat varieties)
The emphasis on the above being as bland as possible. No spices allowed as they tend to aggravate the stomach. This procedure may be advisable to reduce the possibility of dehydration from the diarrhea.
The vet may or may not prescribe medication. One-half teaspoon of kaopectate (NOT peptobismol, it contains aspirin) usually works pretty well too. The vet may recommend withholding food for 24-48 hours to give the GI tract a rest before starting with some bland food.
Usually diarrhea lasts only a few days. If it lasts longer than that, as long as the cat does not have a fever, it usually does not mean anything serious, but you must protect the cat from dehydration by making it take in plenty of liquids and straight to the vet.
Possible causes for diarrhea
From: Colin F. Burrows. 1991. Diarrhea in kittens and young cats. pp. 415-418 IN J.R. August. Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine. WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia.
Causes of acute (sudden onset) diarrhea
Feline Leukemia Virus
Escherischia coli (not documented in cats)
Diet esp. dietary change or raid on the garbage
Toxic or drug-induced
partial intestinal obstruction
Most common causes are viral infections and dietary changes.
Causes of chronic diarrhea
Viral and Bacterial
as above, except Toxoplasma
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inappropriate use of antibiotics
Partial intestinal obstruction
Idiopathic (no known cause)