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Why Does My Cat Have Diarrhea? 9 Possible Reasons

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Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

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Cat owners know how aloof their feline companions can be, and we can sometimes miss signs telling us that something is off, so it is important to pay attention to your cat’s energy levels, eating, and toilet routine.

Feline diarrhea is a common clinical sign associated with various conditions, but it is essential to know that it is not normal. The consistency of your cat’s stool is a good indication of how severe the diarrhea is, but it is always best to consult your vet.

Sometimes the cause is harmless, but it may also indicate a severe problem that requires medical attention.


The 9 Possible Reasons Your Cat Might Have Diarrhea

1. Introducing New Food

Suddenly introducing new food to your cat’s diet can lead to diarrhea. Cats may have sensitive stomachs, and new foods can alter their intestinal microbiome. Ingesting rodents, human food, or foreign objects can also cause diarrhea.

Remedy: Make sure your cat’s food has not expired. New food should be carefully inspected and slowly introduced.

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2. Antibiotics & Medication

Some medications and antibiotics may have side effects. Antibiotics may lower the amount of certain bacteria in the gut, which can lead to diarrhea.

Remedy: If your cat is experiencing diarrhea from medication, consult with your vet to see if it can be changed or if there are remedies for the side effects. A probiotic can help restore healthy gut bacteria, which may alleviate your cat’s diarrhea.

3. Food Allergies

There are some ingredients in cat food that some cats cannot tolerate without becoming sick, and when a cat has an intolerance, diarrhea can be one of the many symptoms. Food allergies can, unfortunately, be one of the causes of IBD in cats, so it is crucial to make sure you are removing those allergens from your cat’s diet.

Remedy: Avoiding the ingredient or food is the best way to manage allergies, and in some cases, an immunosuppressive drug can also treat them.

persian cat eating dry food
Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

4. Bacterial & Viral Infections

  • Clostridium perfringens: It is a bacterium commonly found in decaying vegetation, raw meat, or An overgrowth of Clostridium perfringens can lead to diarrhea.
  • Rotavirus: In severe cases, rotavirus causes inflammation in the intestines and is the leading cause of diarrhea in cats. It can be transmitted from contaminated fecal matter and is a risk to cats with weakened immune systems.
  • Salmonella: Salmonella may gastroenteritis and septicemia in cats and, they can contract it from the feces of other infected cats.

Remedy: It is vital to consult your vet if you suspect a bacterial or viral infection. Your vet may run an IV fluid drip, prescribe antibiotics, and keep your cat hospitalized overnight.

5. Parasites

Parasites are a common gastrointestinal problem in cats and cause diarrhea. Tapeworms can be transmitted when a cat eats an animal that may have tapeworms, and coccidia parasites can be transmitted through the soil. Roundworms can be passed onto kittens from their mother’s milk, and hookworms and whipworms are other parasites that can infect cats.

Remedy: A fecal examination can identify which parasite is present, and appropriate deworming medication can be prescribed to remove the worms.

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6. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of gastrointestinal diseases that can be hard to diagnose. It can usually only be identified with a biopsy. Although there is no single cause, possible causes may include hypersensitivity to bacteria, food allergies, and genetics. Symptoms are usually chronic, and along with diarrhea, your cat can experience weight loss, fatigue, vomiting, and bloody stools.

Remedy: Treatment usually includes a hypoallergenic diet and suppression of the immune system. Your vet may prescribe medications that may help, but there are cases when the disease can be fatal.

7. Pancreatitis

When the digestive enzymes activate, they can irritate the pancreas causing it to become inflamed. The cause is unknown but sometimes dietary changes, poison ingestion, and trauma can contribute to pancreatitis. Symptoms are typically easy to identify in acute cases, but when it is chronic, the symptoms may become infrequent and hard to detect.

Remedy: Your vet will need to take blood tests to determine the appropriate treatment, which could include IV fluids and medication. The risk for further complications is reduced if the disease is treated early.

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8. Liver Inflammation

Liver inflammation can occur in some cats when infections from other sites in the body travel to the liver and form an abscess. There are multiple causes, such as infection, an obstructed bile duct, weakened immune system, and pancreatic disease. Cats with diabetes are at a higher risk of forming a liver abscess.

Remedy: Your vet will need to run numerous tests along with a physical examination. Your kitty may need to be hospitalized along with IV fluids and antibiotics.

9. Cancer

Lymphoma is the most common cancer that affects cats. It is commonly found in older cats and develops in the small intestine. Diet, genetics, exposure to secondhand smoke, and positive cases of FIV and FeLV can be possible factors of lymphoma developing in cats.

Remedy: Lymphoma can be treated with chemotherapy, and remission is achieved in about 60%–80% of cats, depending on the type of lymphoma and location within the intestines.

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What To Do If Your Cat Has Diarrhea

As soon as you notice your feline has diarrhea, you should assess their behavior. Determine how they are feeling by observing their energy levels and watching their appetite. Look out for additional symptoms like vomiting and bloody stools, and be sure to examine the color of your cat’s stools. Diarrhea can often resolve on its own after a few hours with no other symptoms, but if it is prolonged, along with other symptoms that are out of the norm then you should consult your vet right away.

What Do You Give a Cat for Diarrhea?

If you have determined that your cat’s diarrhea can be treated at home, there are a few remedies you can try.

You can simplify your cat’s diet by eliminating treats and scraps within their reach and focusing on feeding your kitty a nutrient-dense and complete food. If diarrhea developed after changing your cat’s food, try switching back to their old diet.

A low-fiber diet can also be worth a try for some types of diarrhea, but it’s always wise to speak to the vet before switching your pet’s diet.

Water is essential to replace fluids and rehydrate your cat, and it’s essential to ensure the water bowl always has fresh clean water. Canned food provides extra moisture, and adding a little warm water to their food can also help.

A healthy microbiome is necessary for good digestion, and probiotics can help repopulate your cat’s gut.

Cat eats homemade food
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Can You Prevent Your Cat from Getting Diarrhea?

Preventing diarrhea can be possible by making sure you don’t suddenly change your cat’s diet or feed it human food. Maintaining solid stools can help prevent conditions such as pancreatitis, IBS, and food allergies.

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There are many factors that contribute to your cat’s diarrhea, but it is crucial to monitor your kitty and look out for additional symptoms. You should know your kitty well enough to notice when something is unusual. While there are tips and remedies to help alleviate your cat’s discomfort, , diarrhea can be serious and should not be taken lightly. It is always best to talk to your vet for an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment.

Featured Image Credit: topimages, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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