Diarrhoea in cats

Diarrhoea in cats

What causes diarrhoea in cats?

Cats can have sensitive digestive systems and many are fussy eaters but if your cat is visiting the litter tray more frequently than usual or you notice their stools are loose and watery, they may have diarrhoea. It is not usually serious but if it persists for longer than a day or two, your cat also has a fever, is vomiting, has a loss of appetite, is sluggish and not their usual self, you need to consult your vet straight away. 

Diarrhoea has a variety of causes and is classed as acute, occurring suddenly and for a short time, or chronic where it persists over a long period of time.  Causes include: 

  • a sudden change to their normal diet, 
  • a food allergy or intolerance, 
  • an infection which could be parasitic, viral or bacterial, 
  • inflammatory bowel disease (colitis), 

and in rare cases, 

  • a tumour of the bowel or other organs 
  • a disease of the thyroid, liver of pancreas which is affecting the intestines.    

Contrary to what you see on the TV, cats can’t tolerate dairy products so don’t be tempted to give them milk or cream unless its specifically produced for cats, as they could cause diarrhoea! 

Preventing diarrhoea and aiding recovery

Always provide your cat with fresh clean water and make sure that you give them worm prevention medication regularly, especially if they are good hunters! If you notice diarrhoea you can make a few changes to their care to help them get over it quickly if the symptoms are not severe.

There is not usually a need to withhold your cat’s food. In fact, doing so could do more harm than good as it can cause other problems. Stop giving treats and if you’ve just started feeding a new food, switch back to the old brand. Cats can develop intolerances at any time so if things don’t get better consult your vet and they may recommend a low antigen food.  Some cats need a bit more fibre than standard foods so you could try a higher fibre cat food. If you make any changes do so gradually, feeding a little more of the new food and less of the old at each meal. Encourage them to drink and you could add a little warm water to dry food to increase their water intake.    

Serious causes and treatments 

If the diarrhoea doesn’t get better and you cat is more seriously ill a visit to the vets is needed. Your vet will want to know what is causing the issues and will ask you about your cat’s condition, the type, frequency and consistency of stools, and may take blood, urine and stool samples for analysis. 

One cause of chronic diarrhoea is colitis which is a severe inflammation of the gut which causes excess mucus to be created so the bowel can’t absorb water effectively. It can be causes by infection, stress, improper diet or other more serious illnesses so If your cat has persistent diarrhoea and also passes mucus and perhaps blood, has a fever or has a reduced appetite you need to have them checked for this condition or other possible more serious causes. 

Whatever the cause of their diarrhoea, if you are concerned consult you vet and they will then be able to prescribe a treatment plan that will see your cat back to their old selves as soon as possible.