Causes of Chronic Diarrhea in Young vs Older Cats

April 20, 2024 7:54 pm Published by


Chronic diarrhea is a common issue that pet owners may face with their cats, and it can be a source of concern and frustration. Diarrhea in cats can be triggered by various underlying conditions, ranging from dietary issues to serious health problems. Understanding the causes of chronic diarrhea in cats, particularly in young versus older cats, can help pet owners identify potential triggers and seek appropriate veterinary care. In this blog, we will explore the factors that contribute to chronic diarrhea in young and older cats, highlighting the key differences between the two age groups.

Dietary Sensitivities and Allergies

One of the most common causes of chronic diarrhea in cats, regardless of age, is dietary sensitivities or allergies. Young cats, in particular, may have sensitive digestive systems that react to certain ingredients in their food, such as grains, dairy, or artificial additives. Conversely, older cats may develop sensitivities to foods that they have been consuming for years due to age-related changes in their digestive capabilities.

When cats experience chronic diarrhea due to dietary sensitivities or allergies, they may exhibit symptoms such as frequent loose stools, vomiting, lethargy, and poor coat condition. It is essential for pet owners to identify potential trigger foods and switch to a hypoallergenic or easily digestible diet recommended by a veterinarian. Keeping a food diary and gradually introducing new foods can help pinpoint the specific ingredient causing the digestive upset in cats of all ages.

Infections and Parasites

Infections and parasites are another common cause of chronic diarrhea in cats, with different types of pathogens affecting cats of different ages. Young cats are more susceptible to gastrointestinal infections such as Giardia and Coccidia, which can lead to persistent diarrhea and dehydration if left untreated. On the other hand, older cats may be at a higher risk of parasitic infestations, such as roundworms or tapeworms, due to age-related declines in their immune function.

When cats are affected by infections or parasites, they may display symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, and a dull coat. Veterinarians can conduct fecal exams and diagnostic tests to identify the specific pathogen causing the gastrointestinal issues and recommend appropriate treatment. It is crucial for pet owners to follow their veterinarian’s advice on deworming schedules and preventive measures to protect cats from recurring infections or infestations.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which can result in chronic diarrhea and vomiting in cats. While IBD can affect cats of all ages, older cats are more prone to developing this condition due to age-related changes in the immune system and gut health. Young cats with a genetic predisposition or history of gastrointestinal issues may also be at risk of developing IBD later in life.

Cats with IBD may experience recurrent bouts of diarrhea, weight loss, poor appetite, and abdominal pain. Diagnosing IBD in cats requires a thorough physical examination, blood tests, imaging studies, and potentially a biopsy of the intestinal tissue. Treatment for IBD in cats may involve dietary modifications, anti-inflammatory medications, probiotics, and managing stress to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for affected cats.


Hyperthyroidism is a common endocrine disorder in older cats, characterized by an overactive thyroid gland that produces excess thyroid hormones. Chronic diarrhea is a frequent gastrointestinal manifestation of hyperthyroidism in cats, along with other symptoms such as weight loss, increased appetite, and hyperactivity. The prevalence of hyperthyroidism in older cats has been on the rise in recent years, necessitating regular monitoring and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing hyperthyroidism in cats involves blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels and potentially imaging studies to assess the size and function of the thyroid gland. Treatment options for hyperthyroidism in cats may include medication, dietary management, radioactive iodine therapy, or surgical intervention, depending on the severity of the condition. Managing hyperthyroidism effectively can help alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms such as chronic diarrhea and improve the overall health and well-being of affected cats.


Chronic diarrhea in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from dietary sensitivities to underlying health conditions. While young and older cats may experience similar gastrointestinal issues, the specific triggers and treatment approaches can vary based on age-related differences in digestive health and risk factors. Pet owners should monitor their cats’ stool quality and behavior closely, seek veterinary care promptly for persistent diarrhea, and work with their veterinarian to identify the root cause and implement a comprehensive treatment plan to address the issue at hand. By understanding the causes of chronic diarrhea in young versus older cats, pet owners can better support their feline companions’ gastrointestinal health and enhance their overall quality of life.

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