Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why do Cats Suffer from Chronic Diarrhea?

September 18, 2009

Catster VetBlog
Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM

"What do you do with a cat with chronic diarrhea who has been on repeated courses of Albon and has a clear stool sample?

"Chronic diarrhea is a common complaint in multi-cat households. Especially in rescue situations, a new bogeyman has emerged as a leading cause of the problem.

"A relatively-new-to-the-scene (in cats) parasite called Tritrichomonas appears to be a common cause of refractory, chronic diarrhea in households in which multiple cats reside.

"The parasite is not detected by standard fecal tests." read more...

Aksum Notes: The most common cause of diarrhea is stress including a food change and the second most common is coccidia. These can go hand in hand. Albon is a very safe inexpensive way to treat coccidia, but it does not kill coccidia (which includes toxoplasmosis). Instead, it weakens the coccidia so the cat's immune system can kill or suppress it. If a cat fecal test comes back positive for coccidia and you want to kill it, ask the vet for a prescription for Ponazuril (which is also known as Bayer Marquis Paste for horses) and send it to Roadrunner Pharmacy in Phoenix, Arizona. They are experts on compounding ponazuril for cats. If you buy the Marquis paste, you will have way too much of it since it is made for horses and cats are much smaller. Also, it's very expensive, over $200. It's much better to let an experienced compounding pharmacy prepare it for you. Coccidia is extremely common in cats, so even if you get rid of it in your cat, they can be re-infected. Fortunately it doesn't usually cause much of a problem and is easily treated. As always, you should listen first and foremost to your veterinarian.


  1. One vet(VERY good vet) I worked for told me kitten diets were prone to making coccidia problems apparent to the point it seemed to be causing it. Iams kitten particularly was indicated.

    Also had much trouble with Tritrichomonas, a flagellate protozoa. Easily found in fresh direct smear in saline, they are seen moving rapidly on low power. Over the course of about 2 hours, they slow down to the point of being able to view them on higher power. They are mostly dead and very hard to find after the sample cools 2 hours. Long courses of metronidazole helps control this problem.

    I have found raw diet to end trouble with both coccidia and Tritrichomonas.

    Phyllis Durdy, RVT, Faerietail Manx, Facehuggers Devon Rex

  2. That's interesting, Phyllis. Coccidia tends to show up when the kitten or cat (usually kitten) is under stress such as moving to a new home or switched to a new food. Your information indicates that the food causes stress. Perhaps the kitten was moved to a new home and a new food at the same time? I suppose it could be the food but it seems more likely that it was a change in food and/or a new home environment.

    Tritrichomonas is a difficult parasite to find and treat, but it is supposedly found in about 1/3 of all catteries, according to one study. If you think you have it, please see the latest protocols on Dr. Jody Gookin's website at UNC:

    or you can use this to go to the same website:

    There are problems with raw diets, too, as shown with the recent recall of Nature's Variety raw chicken food.

    A good balance is probably the best answer. I prefer to add freeze-dried raw venison from Nature's Variety to the dry Taste of the Wild and various canned foods that are high protein and grain-free. Everyone has to make their own decisions on what to feed their pets with the information they have.

    Thanks so much for your comments, Phyllis!


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