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How To Help A Cat With Diarrhea

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Make the cat's diet easily digestible by asking the vet for a prescription diet or using grain-free, low-residue commercial cat food.
  • Adjust feeding schedule to offer smaller, more regular meals.
  • Provide clean, fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration.
  • Consider adding fiber to the cat's diet using canned pumpkin, cooked vegetables, or commercial foods.
  • Rest and create a calm environment for the cat, limit physical activity.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Wednesday 20 December 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
How To Help A Cat With Diarrhea
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Is your cat suffering from diarrhea? As a cat parent, seeing your furry friend in pain can be distressing. In this article, we’ll give you a complete answer on how to help a cat with diarrhea and guide you through the steps to effectively manage it.

How to Help Cats With Diarrhea

An effective way to help your cat overcome diarrhea is to make its diet easily digestible. You can ask your vet to recommend a prescription diet specifically for your cat or go for grain-free, low-residue commercial cat food. 

It’s important to continue feeding the cat even if it has diarrhea, as it still needs proper nutrition and hydration to recover. However, you may need to adjust the feeding schedule and offer smaller, more regular meals to prevent further irritation to the digestive tract.

It’s also crucial to ensure the cat has access to clean, fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration, which can worsen diarrhea. Also, you can offer a probiotic supplement to help restore the helpful bacteria in the gut and support digestive health. 

If your cat’s diarrhea is severe or accompanied by symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it may be facing a more serious underlying condition. It’s worth seeking veterinary care immediately in such a case. 

With that out of the way, let’s focus on some effective ways to assist cats suffering from diarrhea.

Add Fiber

A research paper published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery showed that fiber is useful in treating diarrhea in cats. Fiber helps absorb water in the colon and promotes solid stool formation to help overcome diarrhea in your cat. 

But be sure to choose the right type of fiber for your cat’s needs. For instance, soluble fibers like psyllium husk, oat bran, and beet pulp are suggested as they help bulk the stool and promote better digestion. Whereas insoluble fibers like cellulose can be more difficult for cats to digest. 

Some effective ways to add fiber to your cat’s diet include canned pumpkin, cooked vegetables, commercial foods, and supplements. Whichever one you consider, slowly introduce fiber to your cat’s diet to avoid further digestive upset. 

Bland Diet

A bland diet refers to a diet that is easy to digest and does not contain extra spices. Transitioning your cat’s food to a bland diet can help overcome its digestive upset and bring its tummy back to normal. 

Cooked chicken and rice are widely available and are great examples of bland diets for cats. If you choose this bland diet, cook boneless and skinless chicken breast with white rice in water. Avoid spices or seasoning as they may further upset your cat’s stomach. Mix equal parts of cooked rice and chicken and feed it to your cat in small amounts throughout the day. 

Boiled meat and sweet potato are other great examples of a bland diet. Moreover, some commercial foods are also crafted for cats with digestive issues.

Probiotics

Probiotics include healthy microorganisms that can improve gut health when received in adequate amounts. These microorganisms are naturally found in the digestive tract and maintain digestive health. 

Cats with diarrhea tend to lose beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in their gut, worsening diarrhea symptoms. Adding probiotics to your cat’s diet can help it overcome diarrhea by repairing the natural balance of its gut bacteria. Plus, they promote a healthy gut microbiome.

Probiotics for cats are available in various forms, such as powders, capsules, and treats. It’s important to choose a high-quality probiotic supplement specifically formulated for cats. Also, follow the suggested dosage instructions as feeding your cat more probiotics than it needs can have a negative impact on its health.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are essential minerals that play a role in many body functions, like nerve function and muscle contraction. Examples include sodium, potassium, and magnesium. 

Cats with diarrhea usually lose electrolytes with the loss of fluids, leading to dehydration and other health problems. Replenishing lost electrolytes can help treat diarrhea in your cat by restoring fluid and electrolyte balance in its body. 

An effective way to provide electrolytes to your cat is by using oral electrolyte solutions designed to replace lost fluids with electrolytes. According to a study published in 2016, electrolyte therapy helps treat digestive disorders like vomiting and diarrhea in cats. 

Hydrate Your Cat

Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can lead to further health problems if left untreated. So, hydration is essential in helping your cat overcome diarrhea. You can do so by stimulating it to drink more water. 

One thing to keep in mind when keeping your cat hydrated is to provide clean water. Also, change the water often and regularly wash the bowl to prevent bacteria build-up. Moreover, encourage your cat to drink water. You can offer water in a shallow dish or use a water fountain to attract the cat. 

Anti-Diarrheal Medicines

Many over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications are available for cats to overcome diarrhea. But before giving medication to your cat, carefully read through its instructions and ensure it’s right for your cat. Do not give human medication to your cat as it may be harmful and can be toxic, causing more harm than good. 

That said, it’s suggested to consult a vet before giving an anti-diarrheal medication to your cat. While it may help overcome the symptoms of diarrhea, you should first identify the underlying cause.

Rest 

Last but not the least, rest can benefit cats with diarrhea as it helps reduce stress and gives the digestive system a chance to recover. Also, stress and anxiety can worsen diarrhea in cats by increasing inflammation and disrupting normal digestive function (more on this below). So, it’s important to improvise a calm and quiet environment for your cat to relax. 

Moreover, limiting your cat’s physical activity can help conserve its energy and reduce the workload on the digestive system. It can be particularly useful if your cat is experiencing other symptoms like dehydration. 

Causes of Diarrhea in Cats

The main cause of diarrhea in cats is dietary changes, like the sudden introduction of new foods. It can upset a cat’s digestive system and lead to diarrhea. Moreover, your cat may be allergic to specific ingredients in its food, which can also cause diarrhea. 

Apart from dietary changes and allergies, parasites in your cat’s stomach are another major cause of diarrhea. Parasites are organisms that live within your cat and survive on your cat’s nutrients. These organisms are of different types, including Roundworms, Hookworms, and Giardia, and all can infect your cat and cause diarrhea. 

Bacterial and viral infections can also upset your cat’s digestive system. Harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli can irritate the lining of the intestines in your cat and cause inflammation, which then leads to increased production of fluids and electrolytes, resulting in diarrhea. Viral infections like feline panleukopenia do the same. 

Further, stress can also disturb your cat’s digestive system. When cats experience stress, they release stress hormones that impact their bodies in different ways. One of the ways stress can affect the digestive system is by slowing down or speeding up the movement of food through the intestines, which can result in diarrhea. 

If you’ve been giving new medications to your cat recently, they could be causing digestive upset. Some medications irritate the lining of the intestine or disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to digestive issues. For instance, antibiotics can kill off good bacteria besides harmful bacteria, resulting in diarrhea. 

Symptoms of Diarrhea in Cats

Cats with diarrhea tend to have loose, watery stools with increased frequency of bowel movements and loss of appetite. The exact symptoms of diarrhea can vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Remember, diarrhea can be a cause of underlying health issues or digestive problems that require immediate attention. 

Speaking of loose, watery stools, they refer to bowel movements that are less formed and have higher water content. In cats, it can indicate that there’s an issue with the digestive system, including diarrhea. When cats have diarrhea, their intestines are not properly absorbing water. As a result, they produce loose, watery stools. 

Moreover, increased frequency of bowel movements means the cat needs to defecate more than usual, indicating an underlying digestive issue like diarrhea. Generally speaking, cats tend to defecate once or twice a day. But if your cat has diarrhea, it may need to go to the litter box more frequently. 

When cats have diarrhea, their digestive system may be irritated, causing them to feel sick or uncomfortable. It can lead to a loss of appetite, as the cat may not feel like eating. It may even associate eating with discomfort. So, if your cat is experiencing loss of appetite, it may refer to a digestive upset like diarrhea. 

Furthermore, an irritated digestive system can also affect your cat’s stomach and cause it to vomit. According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, vomiting is a common sign of gastrointestinal tract infection in cats. In some cases, vomiting may indicate an underlying health problem alongside diarrhea. So, if your cat is frequently vomiting, visit a vet immediately. 

When to Bring Your Cats to the Vet

You can easily help a cat with diarrhea at home, but not always. In some situations, the condition is severe or indicates an underlying issue. It’s preferable to bring your cat to the vet in such situations. 

For instance, if diarrhea in your cat lasts longer than 24-48 hours, you should visit a vet. Prolonged diarrhea can worsen your cat’s condition by causing dehydration and other complications that might make it uncomfortable. So, if you’re unable to treat diarrhea within a day, bring your cat to a vet. 

Also, if your cat’s diarrhea is watery, contains blood, or has a strong odor, it may indicate a serious underlying condition. In such a case, visit your vet right away and get your cat thoroughly examined. Do the same if your cat shows other symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, etc. 

Diarrhea can severely affect your cat, especially if it’s old or young. Kittens and senior cats are more vulnerable to the effects of diarrhea and may stop eating altogether due to its discomfort. According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine (US), diarrhea is one of the top two concerns of veterinarians who treat shelter kittens. 

Diarrhea can also greatly impact cats with a pre-existing medical condition like kidney disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. So, if your cat collapses with such a condition, immediately take it to a vet. 

How To Help A Cat With Diarrhea: FAQs

So, there you have it. In this article, we tried covering everything about diarrhea in cats. Here are a few frequently asked questions on the topic.

Why does my indoor cat have diarrhea?

Your indoor cat may have diarrhea due to changes to your cat’s diet, like introducing a new food. Also, if your indoor cat is lactose intolerant, feeding it dairy products can cause digestive upset, leading to diarrhea. 

Will cat diarrhea go away on its own?

In most cases, cat diarrhea goes away in 1-2 days. If you provide your cat with an appropriate, easy-to-digest diet, its digestive system recovers, causing its diarrhea to go away. But if you have a kitten or senior cat or it suffers from another medical condition, it’s worth visiting a vet to avoid the negative effects of diarrhea. 

How long does cat diarrhea last?

Generally speaking, diarrhea in cats lasts 1-2 days. But it can also persist for many days or even weeks, depending on its underlying cause. If your cat’s diarrhea remains persistent for 1-2 days, visit a vet immediately to provide proper treatment to your cat. 

What foods give cats diarrhea?

While many foods can potentially cause diarrhea in cats, dairy products and rich or fatty foods are top of the list. Since many cats are lactose intolerant, they cannot easily digest milk, cheese, and yogurt, leading to digestive upset and diarrhea. Also, fatty foods like oil, bacon, and fried foods can be hard to digest for your cat and can cause diarrhea. 

What should I do if my cat has diarrhea for 2 days?

If your cat has had diarrhea for 2 days, visit your veterinarian to examine the cat and see if it’s facing an underlying medical problem. The vet can determine the underlying cause of diarrhea and provide appropriate treatment to treat this condition. 

If your cat is experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to monitor its symptoms closely and take steps to address the underlying cause. One effective way to help a cat with diarrhea is by changing its diet to easily digestive food. With prompt treatment and proper care, most cases of diarrhea can be resolved quickly, and your cat can return to its happy and healthy self. If you notice your cat’s diarrhea is getting severe, visit a vet immediately!

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