Cat Tips

Cat Diarrhea: Causes and Treatment

Diarrhea is nothing but having loose and watery stools and it's pretty common in humans, with millions of cases reported each year in the United States alone. Infections, food allergies or intolerances, certain medications, etc. can all cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can often coincide with other symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

In severe cases, it can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and malnutrition. The treatment often involves replacing the lost fluids through oral rehydration solutions and intravenous fluids, medicine for slowing down the passage of stools, and treating the underlying illness causing the diarrhea.

Diarrhea in Cats

While loose stool in cats may worry you, it's important to remember that diarrhea itself isn't a disease, but a sign that something else is going on. Knowing how to recognize its severity and what steps to take can help you keep your furry friend healthy.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the causes, symptoms, and probable diagnosis and prevention of diarrhea in cats.

How Will I Know If My Cat Has Diarrhea?

Everyone has their tells. As a pet parent, you should know the signs that indicate your pet may not be feeling well, especially since they aren't able to tell you themselves. One of the most obvious tells is when your cat’s stools are watery and lying around the house, instead of in their litter box. If your cat is still using their litter box, but you suspect they may not be feeling well, check the fur around their back end for staining and soiling, which may indicate they are having diarrhea.

Types of Diarrhea in Cats

There are 2 types of diarrhea in cats; acute and chronic. Acute diarrhea is short-lived while chronic diarrhea lasts 3 weeks or longer. Acute and chronic diarrhea often have different causes, these include:

Acute Diarrhea in Cats - This condition can be caused by infections, inflammation, metabolic conditions, cancer, obstructions, or ingestion of a toxin such as a toxic houseplant or a fruit that isn't safe for pets. New additions to a cat's cat’s diet can also cause diarrhea.

Chronic Diarrhea in Cats – Chronic diarrhea can cause life-threatening complications, it's normally a sign that your cat may be experiencing multiple health complications. Schedule a consultation with your vet.

Why is My Cat's Stool a Strange Color?

Sometimes, you may notice that your cat's diarrhea is red, green, or yellow. This can happen for a few different reasons -

Red Diarrhea – Also called bloody diarrhea, can be a symptom of a serious condition. Dark red or black stool may indicate upper gastrointestinal bleeding, while bright red diarrhea can bleeding in your cat's lower intestinal tract. Stool coated in mucus-coated can indicate possible dehydration or parasitic infection.

Yellow or Green Diarrhea – A cat with gallbladder disease may have green-colored feces but it can also happen if your cat has been eating grass or other green foods. Yellow stool can be an indication of liver disease, zinc poisoning, anemia, or an overgrowth of bacterial pathogens.

Causes of Diarrhea in Cats

Some of the most common causes include –

  • Diet: This happens when a cat eats something that it shouldn't, such as garbage, table scraps, or plants.

  • Infections: Bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and Clostridium difficile, viruses like calicivirus, rotavirus, and coronavirus, and parasites like giardia, coccidia, and roundworms can all cause diarrhea in cats.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease: IBD is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the intestines. It is caused due to food allergies, stress, and genetics.

  • Cancer: Intestinal cancer can also cause diarrhea in cats.

Diagnosing Diarrhea in Cats

Your vet would most probably ask you to bring a fresh stool sample to the clinic for the team to test. Your vet may also review your pet's medical history and do a physical examination.

As a pet parent, take note of when the consistency of your cat's stool changes, how frequently is it happening, what it looks like, and if there have been any recent changes in your cat's diet. In certain cases, the vet may ask to run a blood test, DNA testing, bacterial culture, radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound, or an endoscopic exam.

Treatment of Diarrhea in Cats

Your vet may recommend changing your pet's diet or in some cases withholding food for 24 hours. The prescribed diet would add fibers to benefit digestion and anti-oxidants to aid with immunity. Anti-diarrheal agents, de-wormers, and/or probiotics may also be prescribed. Severe cases of diarrhea that last longer than a few days may require hospitalization and more intensive treatments.

Preventing Diarrhea for Cats

We know that as a loving and caring pet parent, you want to prevent your pet from developing any type of medical illness. Here are a few tips on how to prevent diarrhea in cats -

  • Opt only for high-quality, preservative-free cat food.

  • Avoid giving your leftovers or bites of your food to your cat. The spices and oils we use to season our food can upset our cat's stomachs and cause diarrhea.

  • Ensure your cat is hydrated at all times.

  • Keep your cat's litter box clean and in a quiet, private location.

  • Try to avoid situations that may cause your cat a lot of stress.

  • Vaccinate your cat against common infections that can cause diarrhea like feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline panleukopenia (FPV).


Diarrhea is a common phenomenon in cats. Most cases will be short-lived and can be cured in just a few days with proper care. However, if your cat is vomiting, or experiencing other symptoms of illness, along with diarrhea, schedule an appointment with your vet right away. Severe cases of diarrhea can indicate a serious underlying medical condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by your vet.

  1. "Diarrhea," Canadian Digestive Health Foundation,, accessed Jan. 23, 2024.

  2. "Cat Diarrhea," PetMD,, Jan. 28, 2021.

  3. "Diarrhea in Cats," VCA Hospitals,, accessed Jan. 23, 2024.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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