Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


Diarrhea in Cats: Common Causes & When It's Serious

Diarrhea in Cats: Common Causes & When It's Serious

Just like humans, cats can also experience diarrhea due to various reasons. Our veterinarians at Lancaster will guide you on the common causes of feline diarrhea and when it requires serious attention.

About Diarrhea in Cats

If your cat is experiencing unformed or loose stools with increased frequency, it may have diarrhea. This is caused by faster movement of fecal material through the intestine combined with decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes, and is not a disease in itself but a sign of many different diseases. 

If your cat suddenly starts having accidents around the house and the poop is unformed to fluid, it is likely that it has diarrhea. However, if your cat is still using the litter box, it may be harder to tell if it has diarrhea. 

It is important to note that some variation in the consistency of a cat's poop is normal and healthy. However, if frequent liquid or semi-liquid stools continue for more than two days, it is recommended that you consult the vets at Sears Veterinary Hospital for advice and assistance.

Common Causes Of Diarrhea In Cats.

  • Parasites:  Parasites can irritate your cat's gastrointestinal, causing all kinds of diarrhea involving the small and/or large bowels. Significant numbers of parasites that cause diarrhea are more common in younger kittens.
  • Infections: Viral or bacterial infections can also cause diarrhea and also occur more frequently in younger cats
  • Dietary indiscretion or diet change: Cats tend to be more careful about what they eat than dogs are, but sometimes they do eat inappropriate things like grass, string, etc. Even a purposeful change in diet from one food to another can cause diarrhea.
  • Stress– Just like with people, stress/anxiety/excitement can result in GI upset (especially lower bowel irritation or colitis)
  • Primary inflammatory disorders: Like inflammatory bowel disease in people, inflammatory disorders can cause your cat to develop diarrhea
  • Metabolic diseases: From disorders of the pancreas or liver to thyroid imbalances, many other problems upset the motility or environment in the GI tract resulting in diarrhea.
  • Medications/toxins: Most know that certain antibiotics can upset the GI tract, but other medications and certain toxins can also cause diarrhea
  • Constipation: Constipation may seem counterintuitive, but I mention it because older cats are prone to developing motility problems in their colons, leading to constipation. In these cases, the cats often manage to only pass a small amount of more liquid stools around the obstruction.

What Do You Do For A Cat With Diarrhea?

Some veterinarians used to believe that fasting was necessary to help the bowels "rest" during a bout of diarrhea, but this has been proven false. In fact, it's important to provide your cat with proper nutrition to help their intestines heal.

So, what should you feed your cat? Consider adding more fiber to their diet, as it can help with diarrhea. Additionally, offering multiple small meals per day (around 4) of easily digestible foods is recommended. This includes a low-fat, mostly carbohydrate diet consisting of foods such as potatoes, pasta, rice, chicken, and/or turkey, low-fat cottage cheese, or yogurt. 

Some sources suggest giving your cat Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol for diarrhea, but it's important to note that Pepto-Bismol is not safe for cats. Dosages for other products can also be difficult to determine, so it's best to consult with your local veterinarian for their recommendation.

How Long Should A Cat Have Diarrhea?

Occasionally, diarrhea may only persist for a few hours before disappearing. However, in other instances, it could last for days, weeks, or even months and reoccur frequently. If your feline is elderly or you have a young kitten, diarrhea that lasts for 24 to 48 hours may be problematic.

If it lasts longer, your cat can get dehydrated, which can be dangerous, and you need to contact your vet right away for an appointment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat can't stop having diarrhea, contact our Sears Veterinary Hospital vets right away.

Welcome New Patients

Sears Veterinary Hospital is now welcoming new cat and dog patients! We have a talented veterinary team that is passionate about providing the pets of Lancaster with the best care possible. Contact our office to book your cat or dog's first appointment today.

Contact Us

(661) 948-5911