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Diarrhea and large abdomen.

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic Shorthair
Age: 2-5 years
My 5 yr old DSH has been acting weird for the last 2 days. He had foamy,watery diarhea last night and isn't eating like he normally does. Also,his energy level doesn't seem to be what it normally is. I gave my cats a toy w catnip in it for Christmas and this was the first time they ever had catnip. Could catnip make him that ill? I have taken it away. Also, his stomach looks like a huge bowling ball instead of droopy like my other cats and he has always had breathing problems since he was a kitten. I have taken him to the vet about both issues many times and his tests always come back normal and they send me home w antibiotics and parasite meds, which never relieve the problem. NOw, I am laid off and cannot afford much so I was wondering if it could be just the catnip or something to do w both former issues. When I called, they wanted $407 just for an MRI of his stomach and I cannot find any cheaper vet services in my area. Please help with some advice. ???

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear that Bandit is not feeling well. It is very unlikely that the catnip is the cause of diarrhea. It sounds like there is something else going on.

The main question here is whether the diarrhea and the large abdomen are connected. If the large abdomen is a fairly recent thing then I would think that there is a connection. Do you know if your vet has found any fluid in the abdomen? If a young cat has a large abdomen and diarrhea I get worried about a condition called FIP which is very serious. FIP can sometimes be hard to pick up on blood tests.

There are other causes for an enlarged abdomen such as a tumor or serious liver disease.

Now, I have seen some cats that just have a large abdomen so if Bandit has had a large belly for a long time this may just be normal for him.

If we ignore the large abdomen, then the diarrhea could just be a temporary thing. Cats can get diarrhea because of stress (which is often because of something different in their routine) or because of eating something unusual. (But again, catnip is very unlikely to do it.) If this is the case then things should be better within the next 24 hours. I don't recommend fasting like we do with dogs. If cats go without eating for a day or two they are at risk for getting fatty liver which is very serious.

There is no home remedy for diarrhea. There really isn't anything you can do to help him at home.

If things are not improving in the next 24 hours then he will need to go back to see the vet again. They may be able to prescribe a medication such as metronidazole to help with the diarrhea. But if this is a chronic issue with an enlarged abdomen and now diarrhea you may need to be prepared that this is something that may not be treatable such as FIP.

I hope things improve soon.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your quick response. Bandit's belly has been like that for a few years now and I don't know how to detect fluid in the abdomen but they always feel the abdomen upon exam and did suggest the ultrasound the last time I brought him in. However, I couldn't afford it. I just read about FIP and the enlarged,round abdomen,the eyes looking not great, and labored breathing he has had for years now. All of these symptoms I have spoken to my vet about many times. Aside from that, he hasn't shown any symptoms except for the diarrhea last night. He also vomitted tonight twice after my initial e-mail to you.

Besides the catnip, Bandit's "routine" has been disturbed this whole week due to many people and children coming over for the holiday and he is prone to stress. I applied for veterinary credit online tonight and got approved for $2000 so I do intend to call his vet first thing Monday morning.

Thank you for mentioning the possibility of FIP so that I can mention it to his vet.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

If Bandit has had a big belly for a few years then FIP is less likely. Usually when cats get a big belly with FIP they don't survive much more than a few weeks.

So this is good news!

Customer reply:

Thank you so much for your responses. It helped me through my stress last night. He seems a lot better today but I am still calling the vet tomorrow. My parent's 11 year old dog died kind of suddenly the day before Christmas after vomitting for one day so I freaked out last night. Thank you again.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Glad to hear he's feeling better! Hopefully it's just a temporary thing!

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.