It's not diarreha, but I'm still worried about my cats?

by Amanda Marvin
(Bay City, Michigan)

Recently, my 11 year old cat, Lily, has been going outside more. While she never leaves the yard, she has gotten vocal with a couple of the neighbor's cats.

Until very recently, Lily was overweight. She has since lost a considerable amount of weight, and her stool is loose and unformed. It is NOT diarrhea. She is still herself, and eats and drinks normally. She is not straining to eliminate and gets around fine. I have been checking her feces for any signs of parasites and have found none.

I'm worried now, because it seems that my 10 year old cat Gizmo, has "caught" it. Just this morning she had the same kind of stool, and a few weeks ago, had stool stuck to her anus and surrounding hair. I cleaned her off.

Gizmo has to live in confinement, due to her constant urination on my siblings clothing. She and Lily do not share a litterbox or food and water dish. Gizmo has not lost any weight, but I'm still worried none the less. I've gone over all my texts, but I can't seem to find anything that fits their symptoms. For the time being, I'm taking it as good news, that maybe they're just having an off day now and then. The mushy stool is not an all time occurrence, though. Lily seems to have it more, and Gizmo has only had it once or twice.

Dear Amanda,

Thank you for writing in with concern for your cats. There are a few issues that sound as though they need addressing.

The first concern, obviously, is the loose stool in both cats. There are many possible causes of loose stool, ranging from a change in diet (perhaps your kitties are eating something outside?) to metabolic disorders and inflammatory bowel disease to, of course, parasites. My recommendation would be to bring both cats, along with stool samples, to a veterinarian.

Even though your cats do not share litter boxes, cats can carry parasites in their systems for years and then pass them along to each other. If they have ever shared a litter box, or if they have ever used the same area outside, they may have spread parasites to one another. Furthermore, most parasites and their eggs cannot be seen by the naked eye. The only way to truly rule out parasites would be to have their fecal samples examined under a microscope by a veterinarian.

My second concern is Lily's rapid weight loss. Unless the weight loss was intentional on your part through control of her diet, I would be concerned that Lily may have diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or a number of other medical problems, especially when paired with the loose stools. A trip to the veterinarian would be recommended for this as well, as it sounds as though she needs bloodwork done to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Having bloodwork and a thorough exam now is important, since cats that lose weight quickly are at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. If caught early, this is very treatable, but she should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

Best wishes to you and your kitties,
Dr. Neely

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