What to Feed a Cat with Diarrhea: 5 Keys for Swift Relief

What to Feed a Cat with Diarrhea 5 Keys for Swift Relief

As a cat owner, dealing with a feline friend suffering from diarrhea can be both concerning and challenging.

It’s essential to understand the underlying causes and adjust your cat’s diet accordingly to help alleviate their discomfort.

Diarrhea is a common issue in cats, manifesting as loose or watery stools, and can arise from various factors, such as dietary changes, food intolerances, or health conditions.

This article aims to provide clear, evidence-based recommendations on foods and dietary practices for cats with diarrhea.

We will explore the primary causes of diarrhea in cats, what to feed them, when to consult a vet, and the available treatment options.

To ensure accurate and reliable information, the author, Oliver Purrington, has extensive experience and knowledge in animal nutrition and behavioral science.

Key Takeaways

What Is Feline Diarrhea

Feline diarrhea is a condition where a cat’s stool becomes loose, watery, or more frequent than normal.

It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and can vary in severity and duration.

Diarrhea, which is often caused by various factors such as infection, food intolerance, or other gastrointestinal issues, occurs when fecal matter moves through the intestines faster than normal, resulting in decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes.

It is important to address the underlying problem causing the diarrhea in cats and provide appropriate treatment.

One of the possible complications of diarrhea includes dehydration. As the cat loses more water through frequent bowel movements, it becomes crucial to replenish their fluid levels.

Other complications can be electrolyte imbalances, weight loss, and malnutrition. These issues may arise due to the cat’s inability to absorb essential nutrients from food properly.

To address feline diarrhea and help manage the problem, providing an appropriate diet is essential. Incorporating fiber into their meals can be beneficial as it helps regulate bowel movement and maintain digestive health.

For instance, adding fish to the cat’s diet is a good way of feeding lean and healthy proteins. Plus, fish is easily digestible for cats.

Incorporating boiled white rice in your cat’s meal plan can also be a great source of fiber and provides moisture that may aid in minimizing the impact of diarrhea.

This bland diet of chicken and boiled rice will help manage the problem if a cat’s diarrhea is brought on by new food or food allergies.

Another vital component to consider when managing diarrhea in cats is probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help maintain the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the cat’s gut.

In doing so, they may promote overall digestive health and alleviate diarrhea symptoms. Consult with your veterinarian to find the right probiotic formula for your cat.

Properly managing and treating your cat’s diarrhea will improve their comfort and well-being, and part of that involves ensuring their diet contains adequate fiber and potentially supplementing with probiotics.

What Causes Diarrhea in Cats

Diarrhea in cats can be caused by various factors that affect their digestive systems, including a change in a cat’s bowel movements.

One common cause is dietary indiscretion, where a cat consumes something inappropriate or spoiled, leading to an upset stomach and diarrhea.

Food intolerance or allergies might also be behind their diarrhea, as certain ingredients in their food can affect the intestinal tract and cause gastrointestinal issues for sensitive cats.

Parasites, such as worms and protozoa, are another cause of diarrhea in felines.

These organisms can disrupt the normal functioning of a cat’s digestive system and lead to loose stool. Along the same lines, infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi can also lead to diarrhea by damaging the intestinal lining.

Cats suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or colitis face gastrointestinal inflammation, which can cause diarrhea.

Similarly, pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, can result in digestive upset and diarrhea.

Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland, can also contribute to diarrhea in some cases. In more severe cases, cancer, such as lymphoma or adenocarcinoma, may be the underlying cause of diarrhea in cats.

Stress and anxiety can have physical manifestations in cats, including diarrhea.

A sudden change in environment, new family members, or other stressors can lead to gastrointestinal distress and loose stool.

In such cases, consulting a veterinarian is crucial to rule out any other causes and to provide appropriate treatment.

To effectively manage diarrhea in cats, it’s essential to identify the root cause.

For instance, a cat suffering from food allergies might need a diet change, while one with parasites would require medication to eliminate the organisms.

In some cases, hydration is crucial to counter the dehydration caused by diarrhea.

Offering water, broth, or electrolyte supplements can be beneficial in rehydrating a cat suffering from diarrhea.

While managing your cat’s diarrhea, it’s also crucial to consider addressing frequent vomiting in cats, as both conditions can be interconnected and indicate dietary sensitivities or health issues that require attention.

Additionally, it is important to ensure proper hygiene by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the litter box, utensils, and bedding. This helps prevent the spread of infection, which can be a possible cause of diarrhea in cats.

Probiotics and certain dietary supplements, such as pumpkin, might help in restoring gut balance and alleviating diarrhea symptoms. However, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before providing any supplements or medication to ensure the appropriate treatment for your feline friend.

What Should I Feed My Cat with Diarrhea?

When feeding a cat with diarrhea, it’s essential to provide a balanced, easily digestible, and low-fat diet that does not aggravate the intestinal inflammation or infection.

It is important to avoid sudden changes in diet, as they can worsen the diarrhea or cause other problems.

To transition your cat to a new diet gradually and safely, try mixing a small amount of their new food with their current food and gradually increase the ratio of the new food over several days.

This helps minimize the stress on your cat’s digestive system, preventing further complications.

Offering a variety of specific foods suitable for cats with diarrhea can provide relief and promote recovery. These may include:

  • Boiled chicken or turkey: Without skin or bones, these protein sources are easily digestible for cats.
  • Cooked white rice or pasta: These carbohydrates provide energy while being gentle on the digestive system.
  • Canned pumpkin or sweet potato: Plain and unspiced, these vegetables are high in fiber, which can help firm up loose stools.
  • Probiotics: Live bacteria that can help restore the gut flora and improve your cat’s intestinal health.
  • Prebiotics: These fibers feed the beneficial bacteria in your cat’s gut, promoting a healthy microbiome.
  • Commercial diets: Diets designed for gastrointestinal health, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d or Royal Canin Gastrointestinal, are specially formulated to support cats with digestive issues.

Incorporating these foods and dietary changes can help manage diarrhea and improve your cat’s overall health.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine showed that cats fed a diet rich in prebiotic fiber experienced a decrease in diarrhea symptoms and an improvement in gut health. (1)

Remember to consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet, as individual needs may vary based on the underlying cause of diarrhea, such as food allergies or intolerances especially to fruits.

By providing a balanced and appropriate diet for your cat with diarrhea, you help promote healing and ensure they receive the necessary nutrients for recovery.

It is important to eliminate any treats or table scraps from your cat’s diet and focus only on the core, nutritionally-complete cat food that you offer every day.

What Should I Not Feed My Cat with Diarrhea

There are certain foods that should be avoided when your cat has diarrhea. These foods can worsen your feline friend’s condition, leading to discomfort and prolonged digestive issues.

It’s important to be aware of these foods and their potential effects to ensure your cat’s well-being.

Among the foods to avoid are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Cats can experience lactose intolerance, which leads to symptoms such as gas, bloating, cramps, and further diarrhea.

Can Cats Eat Cheese? Essential Vet-Backed Insights Unveiled! provides some insights on how cheese can affect your furry friend’s health.

Fatty foods like bacon, butter, and oil should also be avoided. These can cause pancreatitis in cats, which may lead to vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Instead, opt for feline-friendly meals that are healthier and less likely to cause digestive issues.

Spicy foods, including chili, curry, and garlic, can irritate the intestinal lining of your cat, causing inflammation, ulceration, and diarrhea. It’s best to keep your cat’s diet bland and free of these spicy irritants.

Raw foods, such as meat, eggs, and fish, can contain harmful bacteria, parasites, or toxins that may lead to infections, poisoning, and diarrhea.

Cooking these foods thoroughly can help minimize these risks and ensure they’re safe for your cat to consume.

Lastly, avoiding foods with artificial additives or allergens like corn, wheat, and soy can help prevent allergic reactions or food intolerance in your cat, which can manifest as itching, swelling, and diarrhea.

It’s crucial to provide your cat with a well-balanced diet and monitor their reaction to new foods to prevent these issues.

In summary, refrain from feeding your cat with diarrhea any dairy products, fatty foods, spicy dishes, raw foods, or those containing artificial additives or allergens. Following these guidelines can help your cat manage their digestive issue and recover faster.

Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Cats with Diarrhea?

The primary difference between wet and dry cat food lies in their moisture content and nutritional composition. Wet cat food has a higher moisture content, lower carbohydrate content, and higher palatability.

This makes it helpful in preventing dehydration and urinary problems and, at the same time, tackling obesity and diabetes.

On the other hand, dry cat food has a lower moisture content and higher carbohydrate content, resulting in less palatable food that lasts longer on the shelf and is more economical. You can read more on our resource how much dry food to feed your cat.

When it comes to cats with diarrhea, hydration, fiber, and a gentle diet become crucial factors. Wet food can help hydrate the cat, preventing dehydration and improving stool consistency.

Additionally, wet food may help reduce intestinal inflammation and infection, as it typically contains less carbohydrates and more protein.

However, wet cat food might not provide enough fiber to help regulate bowel movements, spoil quickly if not consumed timely, and may be less available and affordable for some cat owners.

Other possible causes of watery stool in cats are bacterial infections (Salmonella), viral infections (panleukopenia), and intestinal parasites (roundworms, Giardia, Coccidia).

In addition to changing the consistency of the cat’s stool, these pathogens cause bloody or tarry diarrhea, weight loss, and in severe cases, can be life-threatening.

On the other hand, dry food can provide fiber to regulate bowel movements and help prevent dental issues.

Despite its availability and affordability, it might worsen dehydration and urinary problems due to the lack of moisture content.

Furthermore, the higher carbohydrate content in dry food may exacerbate intestinal inflammation and infection. This could lead to constipation or hard stools, as the food provides less moisture and more bulk.

In conclusion, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of wet and dry cat food when dealing with a feline with diarrhea. While wet food can help with hydration and inflammation, dry food can provide fiber for bowel regulation. Ultimately, the choice depends on the cat’s specific needs and the veterinarian’s recommendations.

When Should I See a Vet about My Cat’s Loose Stools

If your cat is experiencing diarrhea, including cat’s diarrhea, it’s essential to know when to consult a veterinarian. One should seek professional advice in situations where the cat has diarrhea lasting longer than 24 hours or recurring frequently.

Additionally, if the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, blood, mucus, or worms in the stool, it’s crucial to bring the cat to a vet as soon as possible.

Cats exhibiting signs of dehydration, lethargy, fever, pain, or weight loss, alongside loose stools, should be taken to the vet immediately.

This is especially important for kittens, senior cats, or those who have existing health conditions, as diarrhea might be more dangerous to their well-being.

Furthermore, if you’ve tried changing your cat’s diet and the diarrhea doesn’t improve or worsens, it’s time to visit a veterinarian.

It’s vital to seek veterinary attention promptly because some causes of diarrhea can be serious or life-threatening.

For example, a cat could have gastrointestinal parasites, a bacterial infection, or even an obstruction in the digestive system. Timely intervention could make a significant difference in your cat’s recovery and overall health.

In one case, a cat presented with chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy. Upon expert examination, the veterinarian diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and initiated appropriate treatment. Prompt diagnosis and treatment led to a significant improvement in the cat’s condition.

This example highlights the importance of veterinary intervention when your cat experiences diarrhea and accompanying symptoms. By seeking professional help, you give your furball the best chance for a swift and successful recovery.

What Diagnostics and Treatments Do Vets Use for Feline Diarrhea

When a cat is suffering from diarrhea, veterinarians utilize a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the cause and develop a suitable treatment plan.

Physical examination is often the first step, where the vet checks for signs of dehydration, pain, fever, and other symptoms.

Fecal analysis is another common diagnostic tool, as it can reveal the presence of parasites, bacteria, or blood in the stool.

Blood tests can help monitor infections, organ function, or thyroid levels, while urinalysis checks for potential kidney problems or diabetes. In some cases, vets may use X-rays or ultrasound to look for foreign bodies, tumors, or obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract. Less commonly, a vet might perform a biopsy or endoscopy to collect intestinal tissue samples for further examination.

These diagnostic tests help veterinarians pinpoint the specific cause of diarrhea and design an appropriate treatment plan. Some examples of common treatments for feline diarrhea include:

  • Fluid therapy: This rehydrates the cat and corrects electrolyte imbalances that may have resulted from diarrhea.
  • Antibiotics: These can target bacterial infections that could be causing diarrhea.
  • Antiparasitics: These medications treat worms or protozoa in the cat’s digestive system.
  • Anti-inflammatories: These drugs help reduce inflammation in the cat’s intestines.
  • Anti-diarrheals: This type of medication slows down intestinal motility and reduces water loss.
  • Dietary modifications: Providing a suitable diet for a cat’s condition can help manage diarrhea symptoms.
  • Supplements: Products that boost gut health or support the immune system can be beneficial for cats with diarrhea. Supplements can usually be given together with cat food, inserted in between the cat’s food.

By tailoring the treatment plan to the specific cause of the diarrhea, veterinarians improve the cat’s quality of life and help resolve or control the symptoms. Each treatment has a role in contributing to the cat’s well-being, and case studies have shown that these methods can be highly effective in addressing the problems associated with feline diarrhea.

Proper management with timely diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the health of the cat and restore its digestive system to normalcy. The underlying cause of the diarrhea needs to be identified to determine the best course of treatment for the cat.

Can I Treat My Cat’s Diarrhea at Home?

When a cat experiences mild or acute diarrhea, some owners might prefer trying home remedies before seeking veterinary care. However, treating diarrhea at home can pose risks if done without proper diagnosis or supervision.

These risks include missing or delaying the treatment of a serious underlying condition, worsening diarrhea, or causing additional complications. It is crucial to consult with a veterinarian prior to attempting any home remedy and ensure compliance with their instructions.

That being said, there are several safe and effective home treatments for mild cases of diarrhea in cats. These methods can help alleviate symptoms while still monitoring the cat for any worsening signs that may require professional intervention:

  • Fasting: Withholding food for 12 to 24 hours allows the cat’s digestive system to rest. After the fasting period, reintroduce small amounts of food gradually.
  • Hydration: To prevent dehydration, ensure your cat has access to fresh water. In some cases, offering electrolyte solutions can be beneficial.
  • Bland diet: Feeding small portions of easily digestible food like boiled chicken and rice or canned pumpkin can soothe the digestive tract.
  • Probiotics: Adding yogurt, kefir, or commercial products containing live bacteria can help restore gut flora balance and relieve symptoms.

Practicing these home remedies, with guidance from a veterinarian, can help manage mild cases of diarrhea in cats. In spite of the anecdotal success of these methods, it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat to detect any worsening symptoms early and seek veterinary care if necessary.

Remember, always consult a veterinarian when your cat experiences diarrhea, and follow their instructions carefully. Each cat’s situation is unique, and a professional diagnosis is crucial to determining the most appropriate course of action.

Should I Feed a Bland Diet to My Cat with Diarrhea?

A bland diet consists of easily digestible, low-fat, and low-fiber foods that can help soothe the irritated intestines and reduce diarrhea. It is often recommended for cats experiencing gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea.

Pros of Bland Diet:

  1. Reduced intestinal inflammation and infection: A bland diet, such as white rice and chicken, can help reduce the inflammation and infection in your cat’s intestines, which may alleviate diarrhea symptoms.
  2. Restoration of normal stool consistency and frequency: By providing easily digestible food that contains minimal fats and fibers, you can help your cat’s body restore its normal stool consistency and frequency.
  3. Prevention of dehydration and malnutrition: A bland diet can ensure that your cat gets the necessary nutrients and hydration while they are battling diarrhea, preventing dehydration and malnutrition.
  4. Availability and affordability: A bland diet can be prepared at home using simple ingredients like chicken and white rice or sourced from pet stores or veterinarians.

Cons of Bland Diet:

  1. Underlying causes not addressed: A bland diet may help alleviate diarrhea symptoms, but will not address the root cause behind it. It is essential to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Inadequate nutrition for long-term use: While a bland diet can be beneficial for a short period, it may not provide adequate nutrition for extended use. Cats require a balanced and complete diet for optimal health.
  3. Individual cat preferences and needs: Every cat is different, and not all will appreciate or tolerate a bland diet. Some cats may require adjustments to cater to specific preferences or dietary needs.
  4. Gradual transition required: Introducing a bland diet too quickly can lead to digestive upset; it should be gradually introduced into your cat’s meal plans.

When considering whether to feed a bland diet to your cat with diarrhea, weigh the pros and cons and consult with your veterinarian. They can provide tailored advice to ensure your furry friend gets the best care available.

Remember, a proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary to address the root cause of diarrhea and ensure your cat’s long-term wellbeing.

Can I Give My Cat Pepto-Bismol® for an Upset Stomach

Pepto-Bismol® is a well-known over-the-counter medication that is commonly used to help alleviate symptoms such as nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and diarrhea in humans.

This medication contains bismuth subsalicylate, which serves as its active ingredient.

However, is this solution suitable for your cat with diarrhea?

It is not recommended to give your cat Pepto-Bismol® or any other human medications for diarrhea or upset stomach due to various risks and potential side effects.

One of the primary concerns is that Pepto-Bismol® contains salicylate, which is similar to aspirin. (2)

This ingredient can be toxic for cats, as their bodies cannot metabolize it as humans can.

Using anti-diarrheal medications masks the symptom of diarrhea without addressing the underlying problem.

Never administer human medications without approval from a vet, and seek veterinary care if your cat has diarrhea for more than 24-48 hours, if it’s severe, or accompanied by other symptoms.

Additionally, Pepto-Bismol® can interfere with certain medications, such as antibiotics and anticoagulants. (3)

Mixing these medications could reduce their effectiveness, potentially causing complications for your cat’s health.

Furthermore, Pepto-Bismol® may cause side effects in cats, including vomiting, constipation, or even allergic reactions. In some instances, it can lead to black-colored stools, which could be mistaken for melena (blood in the stool).

Reliance on Pepto-Bismol® can also mask symptoms of more critical conditions, such as bleeding ulcers or intestinal perforation. Providing this medication to your cat without seeking professional advice may delay the correct diagnosis and treatment for their condition.

In conclusion, while Pepto-Bismol® may be effective for humans, it is not a safe or recommended solution for cats with diarrhea or upset stomachs. Instead, consult your veterinarian for appropriate medications and treatment plans tailored to your cat’s specific needs and overall health.

What Home Remedy Can I Give My Cat for Diarrhea

Cats can experience diarrhea due to a multitude of reasons, ranging from changes in their diet, stress, or illness. To help alleviate mild or acute cases of diarrhea in your cat, there are several home remedies you can consider. (4)

Fasting: Giving your cat a short period of fasting, usually between 12 to 24 hours, can help their gut rest and recuperate. Always consult with your veterinarian before starting a fasting regimen.

Hydration: Ensuring your cat stays hydrated is crucial during diarrhea episodes. Provide fresh water and consider adding extra water to their canned food. Oral hydration supplements, such as Purina Hydra Care, can also encourage cats to drink more.

Bland diet: Offering a bland diet consisting of boiled chicken and rice can help soothe your cat’s stomach. Feeding your cat small amounts of this mixture three to four times a day for three to five days is ideal. Gradually introduce their regular food as diarrhea clears up.

Probiotics: Giving your cat probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria in their gut. Consult your veterinarian for an appropriate probiotic supplement.

Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a natural source of fiber and can help with diarrhea. Add 1-2 teaspoons of pure, unsweetened canned pumpkin to your cat’s food for mild cases.

In addition to the remedies mentioned above, consider incorporating these options for further relief:

Slippery elm bark: This natural herb can coat and soothe the intestinal lining. Follow recommended dosages and instructions found on product labels.

Chamomile tea: A herbal infusion of chamomile tea can reduce inflammation and intestinal spasms. Administer small amounts of cooled tea, about 1-2 teaspoons, to your cat.

Activated charcoal: Known for its toxin-absorbing properties, activated charcoal is another option you may consider. Consult with your veterinarian for the proper dosage and use.

Following these home remedies can alleviate most mild cases of diarrhea. However, if your cat’s condition persists or worsens, always consult your veterinarian for further guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best wet and dry cat food for diarrhea

When it comes to choosing the best wet and dry cat food for a cat with diarrhea, consider a high-quality, easily digestible cat food that is high in protein and low in fat.

Some cats may also benefit from a food with added probiotics to support healthy gut bacteria. Remember, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for a specific recommendation that suits your cat’s needs.

How pumpkin helps cat diarrhea

Pumpkin is a natural source of soluble fiber, which can help to bulk up loose stools and alleviate diarrhea. Additionally, pumpkin is low in fat and can be easily added to your cat’s regular diet.

Keep in mind that only pure, canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix, should be fed to your cat – the latter contains added sugar and spices which can further upset your cat’s stomach.

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that adds bulk to feces as it moves through a cat’s digestive system. This can be especially helpful in cases of diarrhea that involve watery or loose stool.

Over-the-counter remedies for diarrhea

While over-the-counter remedies like probiotic supplements or anti-diarrheal medications are available, always consult your veterinarian before administering any medication to your cat.

They can recommend the appropriate dosage or suggest other treatments that are best suited for your feline friend.

Managing chronic cat diarrhea

If your cat suffers from chronic diarrhea, it’s crucial to work with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. This may involve dietary changes, prescription medications, or additional diagnostics.

It’s important to continue monitoring your cat’s stools and providing ongoing care as recommended by your vet.

Home remedies: yogurt and rice

Yogurt and rice are two home remedies that can provide temporary relief for cats with diarrhea. Plain, unsweetened yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics which can help restore balance to your cat’s gut bacteria, while boiled white rice can help firm up their stools.

Make sure to introduce these foods gradually and in small quantities to avoid further stomach upset. When you resume feeding, begin with the bland rice mixture, then slowly mix in regular food, reducing the amount of the rice mixture until the cat is back on a normal diet.

Understanding causes and duration of cat diarrhea

Diarrhea in cats can be caused by various factors, such as eating toxic substances, food allergies, or ingestion of a foreign object. In many cases, mild diarrhea will resolve on its own within a few days.

However, if the diarrhea is severe, persists for more than 48 hours, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or lethargy, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian for further evaluation and guidance to determine the possible cause.


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