It's not unusual for a cat to suffer occasional bouts of diarrhea. A new cat food or mild gastrointestinal upset can cause loose stools. You might have the treatment for mild feline diarrhea in your medicine cabinet. Imodium, developed for humans, can relieve your cat's diarrhea, but always check with your veterinarian before administering it to Kitty.
Loperamide hydrochloride, the active ingredient in Imodium, works by slowing intestinal movement. It falls into the opiate class, with low narcotic effects. While Imodium is marketed for people and there is no veterinary equivalent, veterinarians can recommend it for cats under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's extra-label usage. Your vet will give you the correct dosing information, based on the weight of your cat. You can purchase Imodium over the counter, in liquid or capsule form.
Use Imodium, with your vet's permission, only in cases of mild diarrhea. If the mild diarrhea doesn't resolve itself within a day or two of Imodium treatment, a vet visit is in order. If your cat develops a serious case of diarrhea -- including the explosive type or feces mixed with blood -- he needs veterinary attention. Take him to the vet if he is constantly going in and out of the litter box. Cats with severe diarrhea can dehydrate rapidly; your vet might have to administer intravenous fluids.
Side Effects and Contraindications
Imodium can cause side effects in certain felines. While it can stop your cat's episodes of diarrhea, he could end up constipated. Other side effects include lethargy and gas. Because Imodium can affect Kitty's central nervous system, he could experience excitation. Very old or debilitated cats shouldn't receive Imodium, nor should cats diagnosed with kidney or urinary tract disease, hypothyroidism or Addison's disease. Don't give Imodium to pregnant cats. If your cat receives any other type of medication, check with your vet before administering Imodium.
Kittens and Diarrhea
If kittens experience diarrhea, it's a veterinary emergency. Don't try to treat them with Imodium or any other anti-diarrheal medication, but bring them to your vet. While your adult cat might experience mild diarrhea from a gastrointestinal upset, in kittens diarrhea often results from parasite infestation or bacterial infection. Because they are so tiny and their immune systems undeveloped, a bout of diarrhea can prove fatal to kittens without prompt veterinary treatment.