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Albuquerque VetCo

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My Cat Has the Runs! Will Antibiotics Help Feline Diarrhea?

Cat DiarrheaNot all types of diarrhea are responsive to antibiotics.  Some are and some are not and it is not known why which is which. It is speculated that responsive diarrhea is because there is a bacterial overgrowth in the intestines. However, many vets are still reluctant to prescribe antibiotics as a treatment.

Why would there be a bacterial overgrowth?  The current theories as to its cause focus on the possibility of immune dysregulation possibly associated with abnormal CD4+ T cells (immune cells), IgA plasma cells (antibodies), and cytokine (a chemical messenger) expression.

Symptoms and Types

  • Small bowel diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Large amounts of diarrhea
  • Large bowel diarrhea
  • Straining to defecate
  • Blood in the diarrhea
  • Increased amount of defecation
  • Increased intestinal sounds
  • Gas


Unknown for sure but these bacteria are suspected:

  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Escherichia coli
  • Lawsonia intracellularis


In order to diagnose you will need to give a full history of your cats health, the start of the symptoms and anything that may have preceded the condition. A series of diagnostic tests will be performed, which may include a physical exam, a blood test that include a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. Your vet may also do a fecal smear to rule out a parasite infestation. X-rays may be taken to rule out physical causes of diarrhea.

In order to make sure that antibiotics are the correct treatment course, your vet will have to diagnostically rule out all other potential causes.


In conjunction with antibiotics you vet will help you plan out a proper diet based in low-fat, highly digestible food. If your cat is having absorption issues (a decreased cobalamin level), vitamin B12 supplements may also be prescribed until levels have returned back to normal.

The diet is only necessary during the treatment, though maintaining a low-fat diet is good for your cats health overall.