Chronic soft, smelly stools in 5 year old kitty

Befuddledghostie

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I’ve had my American longhair, Darcy, since she was 3 months old. She’s 5 years old now and we’re still having the same issue, though it has varied over time.
She was a shelter cat and I don’t think she was weaned properly because she doesn’t seem to understand how to cover her poop in the litter box, and has some needy, weird behaviors consistent with premature separation from her mother. For the first months that I had her, she had chronic diarrhea and bad flatulence. She could clear a room in seconds! I took her to the vet and he recommended I change her food to something better quality. I switched her to a Purina sensitive skin and stomach formula, which helped a little bit but we were still having the same issue. I also noticed that sometimes there would be a little bit of blood in her stool and she would leave little smears of blood on the floor/furniture. Very small amounts of blood at a time and she didn’t seem to be in pain, but I brought her back to the vet and explained this to him he shrugged me off and said that I should give her immodium tablets, which is what he did for his Persian cats when they had diarrhea. I did this and didn’t really notice a difference, so we went back to the vet, I asked him to do a fecal test to see if there was anything going on but he refused and said to just keep up with the immodium and keep switching food to find something that agreed with her.
Now that she’s older, the flatulence isn’t really an issue anymore but she still has soft, very smelly stool that she doesn’t cover in the box. It gets in her fur and she tracks it around the house, and she smells horrible. Her nickname is ‘smelly cat’. The litter box smells horrible because it’s a self-scooping one but the soft stool gets stuck to the little rake and just reeks. I don’t see any worms or anything in her stool. It’s been five years now of this consistent, chronic problem.

Other than this problem she seems totally healthy. Not dehydrated, eats well (too much, she’s a little chunky) she’s a lazy cat but doesn’t seem lethargic or sickly and can run/jump normally, she doesn’t seem to be in any pain at all. No crying or anything when using the litter box.

Does anyone have any advice for handling this? I’m planning on taking her back in to a different vet to see if they’ll give me any advice, and considering switching her food again though I’m not sure what to try. Recommendations??
Darcy is a beautiful gray tabby color, I’ve considered trimming her hair to keep stool from getting caught in it and tracked around to cut down on the smell. If I do this, will it grow back in the same pretty tabby pattern? Sorry if that’s a stupid question!
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi! Since this has been going on for so long, it is probably some kind of food intolerance that causes the softness and smell. What are all the kinds of foods you have previously given her? It will help to know that for anyone here to recommend something else to try.

A different vet would be a great idea! Find one in an entirely different practice to avoid 'colleague bias'. You can get copies of all Darcy's records to give to a new vet to help reduce redundant tests/costs. And, yes, ask about a full fecal PCR - it tests for not only parasites, but bacterial/viral issues too. Blood work (CBC, Chemistry Profile, thyroid) might be an idea, as there are probably some nutritional issues/chemical imbalances that could cause loose, smelly stool.

If you - or the new vet - trim her backend hair, it will grow back. I know some members on this site have their cats routinely trimmed and haven't heard any issues with the hair not growing back. In the meantime, you can use unscented, hypoallergenic wipes to help her keep herself clean. There is a possibility that some of the smell is due to her lack of cleaning if she is heavy enough that it is causing some mobility/agility issues. And, of course, getting rid of the self-scooping litter box will help with the overall smell in the house!! ;)

Food intolerances can vary greatly among cats, so perhaps food allergy testing might be needed - as a starting point by testing the most common food allergies vets see in cats.
 
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Befuddledghostie

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Thanks for the reply! When I first adopted her, we fed her the same thing we fed our other two cats who had no issues with it though I know now that it’s a terrible thing to feed animals, Meow Mix. (Forgive me! I was only 18 and didn’t know better!) I’ve given her friskies brand too (not much better, I know) and then tried Purina pro plan which is when I started seeing some improvement and the flatulence went away. We also tried blue buffalo indoor health. We tried wet food too but nothing really seemed to help that much. She’s food-crazy, so no matter what I feed her she eats it which is good at least.

we only recently got the self scooping litter box because the smell of the regular one was so rank, despite it being cleaned every day. It’s actually better with the self scooping one, except when soft stool gets stuck in the rake. I think that if we found a solution to the soft stools, the litter box wouldn’t be an issue anymore.
 

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Are all the dry food chicken based? What about the wet foods? I have read so many posts on this site about cats becoming 'allergic' to chicken, which seems weird, but... Do all of them contain grain? That seems to be another trigger in some cats. Some other cats are intolerant to guar gums, or related binders found in food. If you can make a list of the ingredients in the foods you have tried in the past and see if you find some common items in them - especially look at some of the differences in Purina Pro compared to the others, since it helped a bit.

Good thing is if you have to move to another protein source, it sounds like she might adapt well to that!!
 

MissClouseau

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I would try to find a better vet who won't shrug off such a problem and will give you a stool test when you ask for it. I will go ahead and say your current one is a bad vet. Any doctor who tries to treat only the symptom without checking or asking you to check the cause of the symptom, is not good enough. Soft stool is a symptom. Sorry things like this just really piss me off.

Some Purina foods have probiotics in them. What helped a bit might be that alone and not exactly the other ingredients. If I were you I would go with an elimination diet like FeebysOwner's tips suggest, and start with a grain-free or low-grainy (wet) food if possible or just wet food in general.

Do you give something for the hairballs?
 
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Befuddledghostie

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I would try to find a better vet who won't shrug off such a problem and will give you a stool test when you ask for it. I will go ahead and say your current one is a bad vet. Any doctor who tries to treat only the symptom without checking or asking you to check the cause of the symptom, is not good enough. Soft stool is a symptom. Sorry things like this just really piss me off.

Some Purina foods have probiotics in them. What helped a bit might be that alone and not exactly the other ingredients. If I were you I would go with an elimination diet like FeebysOwner's tips suggest, and start with a grain-free or low-grainy (wet) food if possible or just wet food in general.

Do you give something for the hairballs?
yeah he was a terrible vet and I haven’t been back to him since he refused to do routine testing for Darcy.

We’ve found wet food to be a lot of trouble and quite expensive so I’d like to try to keep her on dry food if we can. Of course if we can’t find a dry food that agrees with her and we do find a wet one that does I’ll just switch her to wet food.

surprisingly she hasn’t had as much trouble with hairballs as I’d expect anymore. She used to get hairballs and hack them up in the most inconvenient of places such as on the stairs or in the middle of the dining room floor. We’ve gotten much better at brushing her though, so that’s probably why.
 

MissClouseau

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yeah he was a terrible vet and I haven’t been back to him since he refused to do routine testing for Darcy.

We’ve found wet food to be a lot of trouble and quite expensive so I’d like to try to keep her on dry food if we can. Of course if we can’t find a dry food that agrees with her and we do find a wet one that does I’ll just switch her to wet food.

surprisingly she hasn’t had as much trouble with hairballs as I’d expect anymore. She used to get hairballs and hack them up in the most inconvenient of places such as on the stairs or in the middle of the dining room floor. We’ve gotten much better at brushing her though, so that’s probably why.
I asked about hairball remedy in case if you use something, maybe that triggers diarrhea. But as a side note, I have read that hairball-related issues might be there without the cat actually puking up a hairball. In fact at least once I'm pretty sure my cat vomitted due to hairball but there was no hair in the puke at all. I think the hair just prevented food to go down to the intestines at a reasonable speed. Though I also got the impression if there is a poop problem related to hairball, it's they usually get constipated.

If you haven't tried, a grain-free food is worth to try. (My cat's dry food is Acana Wild Prairie) Or, it's not an option where I live but I saw in the USA and some other countries there are limited-grain options like only rice as a grain. There are also prescription gastrointestinal/allergy foods like Hill's z/d but they are more on the expensive side.
 

Landon&Lucasmom

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Ask your vet to run a PCR panel to find out the cause of your cat's chronic loose stool. Some parasites and protozoa cannot be detected in a regular fecal smear or float. Tritrichomonas foetus can cause gas, chronic loose stool. Your cat usually appears healthy, they gain weight normally, eat and drink well but just have horrible smelling loose stool, gas and sometime mucus and blood in their stool. The only way to diagnosis it is with a PCR panel.
 
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