Why do cats have diarrhea? What is good for cat diarrhea?


Why do cats have diarrhea? The structure of your cat’s poop, or stool, gives very important clues about its health. If you have a cat in your home, you should pay attention to a few important signs when cleaning the litter box where your cat is toileting.

Most cats will have a brief episode of diarrhea from time to time, which can often be explained by normal and understandable things, such as a very sudden change from one food brand to another. But there are also dangerous, even deadly, health problems among the possible causes of diarrhea.

That’s why it’s so important to know what clues to look for and what to watch out for. Persistent diarrhea in the cat may indicate an underlying chronic disease.

So why do cats get diarrhea? How is diarrhea treated? When should you see your vet? How can you help your cat feel better? The answers to each of these questions are waiting for you below!

What is diarrhea?

Diarrhea—meaning softer and wetter-than-normal stools—in fact comes in a variety of consistencies from moist to liquid. Diarrhea is the name given to unformed stools that are usually made in increased quantity and frequency due to increased bowel movements.

It occurs as a result of faster movement of fecal matter through the gut with reduced absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes. Diarrhea is not a disease, on the contrary, it is a symptom of many different diseases. Diarrhea has many causes. Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of dysentery, especially in cats.

Diarrhea may occur as the sole symptom, as one of several symptoms of a more general disease problem, or with symptoms resulting from prolonged or severe diarrhea.

Diarrhea is defined as acute when it starts suddenly and lasts less than two weeks. Diarrhea is considered chronic if it persists or recurs for three weeks or more.

What does a normal cat poop look like?

Most cats poop at least once a day. The shape and structure of a normal cat poop is as follows.

  1. A healthy, “normal” cat poop is usually dark brown and shaped.
  2. It is normal hardness, not too hard or too soft.
  3. It is in the form of a log or ingot.
  4. It has a normal level of smell. It usually doesn’t smell too bad.

If your cat’s poop has been very soft or liquid for more than a day or two, it’s important to identify the underlying cause. This is because diarrhea in cats can sometimes indicate serious, even potentially fatal, health problems.

Why do cats have diarrhea? Causes of diarrhea in cats

Although diarrhea is a normal condition for cats; There are many reasons why your cat may have diarrhea. Diarrhea often goes away on its own in a short time. But sometimes it can last for days, weeks, or even months, or it may come back on a regular basis.

Diarrhea lasting 24 to 48 hours is probably not a problem, except for kittens or older cats. If it takes longer, however, your cat’s body may become dehydrated, with dangerous consequences. Diarrhea is a common problem cats face and if it persists for a long time, veterinary control is required.

Indigestion can be triggered by a wide variety of factors, so it can be difficult to find the true cause of your cat’s diarrhea. But some common causes of cat diarrhea include:

  • Changes in their food, food allergies or tolerances
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Colitis (Ulcerative colitis)
  • intestinal parasites
  • pancreatic disease
  • Liver diseases
  • Cancer
  • hyperthyroidism
  • Environmental changes or stress
  • antibiotics or other medications
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Protozoar infections

If the diarrhea is black or bloody or continues with fever, vomiting, malaise and loss of appetite, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Nutrition in Cats

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they cannot get all the nutrients they need from plant sources. Therefore, cats should be fed a diet high in protein and very low in carbohydrates. But many commercial cat foods contain high levels of carbohydrates, which can encourage the growth of certain gut bacteria, such as Prevotella, which thrives in low-protein, high-carb environments.

When these bacteria multiply too much, they can create unhealthy levels of inflammation, leading to diarrhea and even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A sudden change in your cat’s diet can trigger diarrhea.

Even if your cat doesn’t have a sensitive stomach, any new food (food) can upset the digestive system at first. If you want to switch your cat from one brand or variety of food to another, it is best to gradually switch from old food to new food within 7 to 10 days to avoid digestive symptoms.

Food intolerance (the body’s inability to digest a particular food properly), also known as food hypersensitivity, is one of the common causes of diarrhea. If your cat is not digesting his new food properly, this can cause diarrhea.

In other cases, cats can develop hypersensitivity to a protein source they’ve been eating for years without issue. The solution can often be found by paying attention to the source of the food the cat is fed – for example, by switching to a “new” protein source that the cat has never been fed before.

Humane Foods

Sometimes you may want to give your cat small pieces of your own food, but this may not be a good idea at all. With a few exceptions, human foods are not good for cats and some are toxic. Foods that are toxic to cats include chocolate, avocado, grapes/raisins, onions, garlic, the sweetener Xylitol (found in some chewing gums) and alcohol.

Dairy products are also not very beneficial for cats. That’s because while many adult cats love milk, they lack the enzyme needed to break down the lactose found in milk. The inability to digest lactose, known as lactose intolerance, is a common cause of diarrhea in cats.


Cats exposed to toxic substances may develop symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, seizures, lethargy and unsteady gait. Many substances in your home, such as pesticides, rodent poisoning, cleaning agents and antifreeze, can make your cat sick or even kill it the moment it enters its stomach.

Cats eating any plant can also cause diarrhea or vomiting. Many indoor and outdoor plants – especially lilies, tulips, foxglove and philodendron – are toxic to cats. And even a small amount can cause deadly diseases if eaten. Human drugs are also one of the common causes of cat poisoning.

Foreign Objects

Many cats like to chew on objects such as cardboard or toys, but if such items are swallowed, they can irritate the digestive tract and even settle in the intestines, creating a dangerous blockage. This congestion can cause diarrhea; because the blockage prevents solid stools from passing through the intestines, while liquid can seep around it.

Foreign objects such as string, thread, ribbons, elastics, and the like are particularly dangerous because of the tiny thorns on the cat’s tongue that serve to pull food down the throat. Once a piece of thread or fabric is attached to these barbs, they are very difficult to remove and often unavoidable for your cat to swallow it.

If the end of a string or something like thread is caught and secured in the mouth, the length that extends to the digestive tract can cause serious internal injuries. Playing with rope is great exercise for your cat, but check it often during play or when there is something like rope around, just in case your cat is swallowing rope.


Parasites are eukaryotic organisms that infect and damage the bodies they enter and attach to. Some parasites can also infect cats. Such as Flatworms (parasites and tapeworm), roundworm, Toxascaris and toxocar, hookworms (Ankilostom and Uncinaria)…

Other parasites, Giardia, Tritrichomonas and coccidia, Cystoisospora, Cryptosporidium and single-celled protozoa such as Toxoplasma. Any of these parasites can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, dull fur and dehydration.


Many cats are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment or routine. For example, fireworks, car journeys, or a new person in the house or a new pet can be a source of stress for some cats.

In both cats and humans, the body responds to stress by secreting hormones and other chemicals that disrupt the gut microbiome, often causing short-term diarrhea.

Some drugs

Many prescription medications prescribed by veterinarians can cause diarrhea as a side effect, including steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), heart medications, bronchodilators (for asthma), and anti-anxiety medications. But the most common drugs that cause diarrhea are antibiotics that disrupt the gut microbiome by killing many beneficial bacteria along with the pathogens they target.

Metronidazole (Flagyl) is an antibiotic and antiprotozoal medication often prescribed for cats, for example, to treat periodontal disease, bacterial infection, and even unexplained diarrhea. But this particular drug is known to cause long-term damage to the gut microbiome and is less effective than previously thought for many GI conditions.

Some diseases

A number of health issues and diseases can cause chronic diarrhea in cats. These include infections Caused by certain bacteria:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium perfringens

Viral infections in cats:

  • Feline panleukopenia (feline parvo)
  • feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)

Other conditions that commonly cause diarrhea include:

  • hyperthyroidism
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Pancreatitis or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • lymphoma

Gut microbiome imbalance

Diarrhea is often a sign that the gut microbiome is out of balance. This means that some beneficial gut bacteria essential for healthy digestive and immune functions are missing or not in the right proportions.

Such imbalances can occur for a variety of reasons. A food that is too high in carbohydrates can cause certain groups of bacteria, such as Firmicutes, to grow so large that they exclude other important groups.

Antibiotics can kill many beneficial gut bacteria in addition to the harmful bacteria they are supposed to treat. Certain chronic diseases, including some cancers, continually disrupt bacterial populations in the gut, leading to ongoing imbalances.

Cat’s digestive system

As obligate carnivores, cats do not need the longer gastrointestinal (GI) tracts needed by omnivores such as dogs and humans, or herbivores such as plant-eating cows and rabbits. A cat’s digestive system is relatively short and digests a high protein meal quickly.

In cats, it typically takes about 20 hours for food to pass through the entire GI tract. In contrast, digestion can take up to 72 hours in a human. The rapid passage of food through the cat’s GI tract reflects its adaptation to a hunting lifestyle and prepares the cat to pounce on the next prey item.

Different diseases occur in different parts of the intestinal tract, so in order to find the cause of your cat’s problem, it is important to determine whether the diarrhea originates from the small intestine or large intestine (colon).

For example, since the small intestine is where most nutrients are absorbed, problems here could mean that the body is missing out on most of the nutrients in your cat’s food. And this can cause additional problems such as weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. In this respect, the color of your cat’s poop and poop gives important clues.

For example, black, tarry and runny poop could indicate stomach or intestinal bleeding and the cat should be taken to the vet immediately. Conditions that poop color and texture may indicate are listed below.

Black, tarry and runny poo: It may indicate stomach or intestinal bleeding. The veterinarian should be called immediately.

Smelly, pudding-like poop: Maybe two to three times a day. Food intolerances may indicate inflammatory bowel disease.
Extremely watery poop filled with mucus: Too little fiber; It could be a sign of colitis.

Soft, frothy, mucous and/or bloody poop (may be variable): May indicate parasites.

Diarrhea in kittens

Diarrhea is a more common problem in kittens than in adult cats. As a kitten’s digestive system adjusts to solid foods, even minor food changes are likely to cause intestinal discomfort.

Kittens are more vulnerable to intestinal parasites and pathogens as their immune systems are still developing. They are also much more likely than adult cats to eat things that can be toxic or create intestinal blockages.

Some diarrhea-causing diseases, such as feline enteric coronavirus (FeCV) and FIP, are more common in kittens. Because kittens are small, diarrhea can quickly lead to severe dehydration and fatigue. Therefore, if your kitten has diarrhea that lasts for more than two days or is accompanied by other symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

When should you go to the vet?

In an adult cat, occasional loose stools are nothing to worry about. Also, if your cat is behaving normally and feeling well, it’s reasonable to wait a day or two to see if the diarrhea resolves on its own.

However, if your cat’s diarrhea persists for more than two days and has additional clinical signs such as vomiting, loss of appetite or lethargy, it could indicate a serious health problem. If you think your cat may have eaten and swallowed something poisonous or ingested a foreign object, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian will make the correct diagnosis through a series of tests and studies to look for the cause of your cat’s diarrhea, including a physical examination, stool parasite testing, blood work, urinalysis, and X-ray or ultrasound.

What is good for cat diarrhea? Treatment Recommendations

Whether the cause of your cat’s diarrhea has been identified or is still being investigated, either way, you can help her feel better.

Avoid drugs:

Never give your cat anti-diarrhea medications, as many of these are toxic or fatal to cats. Some antibiotics should never be given to cats unless necessary, as they can worsen or cause diarrhea.

If your cat has a bacterial infection and your veterinarian determines that antibiotics are necessary, you can help regulate your cat’s intestinal health during and after medication.

Feed the right food:

Consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your cat’s diet. If your cat’s current food is high in carbohydrates, gradually introduce more protein.

Make sure your cat is fed a high quality food. It would be best not to give your cat treats until the diarrhea is over and to eliminate other food extras. And always give your cat plenty of fresh water.

Make sure she eats food often:

Starving cats for a few hours is usually recommended for vomiting. But this is unlikely to help with diarrhea. Never remove a cat from its food for more than 24 hours for no reason; even just a few days of malnutrition can lead to a potentially fatal liver condition in cats.

Use fiber and probiotics:

Adding certain fiber sources to your cat’s food, particularly the probiotic fibers inulin and psyllium, can improve diarrhea by both absorbing excess water in the intestines and providing nutrients to the beneficial bacteria living in the intestinal tract. You can add a small amount of any fiber source to your cat’s food at any time.

AnimalBiome’s Gut Maintenance Plus (for both cats and dogs) may come in handy, especially if your cat’s diarrhea is the result of a course of antibiotics. There are many products that are specially formulated to relieve diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

Test your cat’s gut health:

Microbiome testing can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your cat’s digestive system and even how to fix some issues. The Gut Health Test will identify all the different types of bacteria found in your cat’s gut, determining whether these bacterial populations are present in balanced amounts compared to the gut microbiomes of healthy cats.

Like humans, cats use bacteria living in the GI tract to digest their food and expel it from their bodies. A well-balanced gut microbiome will support the immune system, keep your cat’s coat healthy and even improve mood.

But when certain populations of beneficial bacteria are missing, the microbiome becomes unstable and with it, important digestive and immune functions may no longer function properly. Food changes may be enough to adjust your cat’s balance between established gut bacteria groups.

For example, switching to a higher protein and lower carbohydrate food can improve your cat’s gut health by encouraging the growth of the important group of Fusobacteria that thrive in a high protein environment.

For cats with chronic diarrhea caused by more serious microbiome imbalances or IBD, Gut Restore Supplements can help balance the number of bacterial groups in the gut and relieve symptoms.

Diarrhea Frequently asked questions

Why do kittens vomit and have diarrhea?

Many factors can cause vomiting and diarrhea in all cats, whether kittens or adults, but very few of them are related to food. Here are possible causes of vomiting and diarrhea in kittens:

  • Changes in their food, food allergies or intolerances
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Colitis (Ulcerative colitis)
  • Worms (intestinal parasites)
  • pancreatic disease
  • Cancer
  • hyperthyroidism
  • Environmental changes or stress
  • antibiotics or other medications
  • Bacterial or viral infections

How can you tell if a kitten has diarrhea?

Frequent defecation of your cat is the most common symptom of diarrhea. Other important symptoms can be listed as follows; defecation difficulties, blood in the stool, frequent defecation bloating, constant sleepiness, dehydration, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss etc.

My cat has diarrhea and vomiting, what should I do?

If your kitten’s diarrhea and vomiting go away on their own within two to three days, then there is nothing to worry about. To prevent vomiting, you can stop feeding your kitten for a short time.

However, the same thing may not be good for diarrhea. For diarrhea, make sure your cat drinks fresh water frequently. If your cat’s diarrhea and vomiting have not resolved after a 24-hour wait, contact your veterinarian immediately. Other red alert symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • lethargy/depression
  • pain/discomfort
  • Blood in stool (dark, blackish stool or visible, clear, red blood)
  • Vomiting

What is good for a cat with diarrhea?

When cats have diarrhea, they lose water. For this reason, you should frequently put clean and fresh water at the points they can reach. In consultation with the veterinarian, you can add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 liter of water, mix it, and then give it to your cat.

It will relax the stomach and will be good for the intestinal system. But you should do this after consulting your veterinarian and getting approval. In addition, probiotic powders are also ideal for eliminating diarrhea and vomiting in cats.

How should cats use probiotic powders that are good for diarrhea?

Probiotic powders have an important function in eliminating diarrhea in cats. Probiotic powders should be added to the amount of food and/or water your cat can consume daily, in the form of 1 or 2 sachets.

What to give when cats have diarrhea?

Foods such as boiled, lean chicken, white rice and potatoes can be given. It is very important to drink plenty of water as the body will be dehydrated. Pediatric oral electrolyte solutions can be used. Or, the drink prepared by adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1 liter of water can be given to the cat.

Why do kittens have diarrhea?

The first and most common cause of diarrhea in cats is nutritional reasons. Cat food change, raw meat, spoiled food, milk and dairy products, table foods are among the biggest causes of diarrhea in cats. 2. Stress also causes diarrhea in cats.

What stops diarrhea in cats?

Foods such as boiled, lean chicken, white rice and potatoes can be given. It is very important to drink plenty of water as the body will be dehydrated. Pediatric oral electrolyte solutions can be used. Or, the drink prepared by adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1 liter of water can be given to the cat.

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