Diarrhea In Cat

"Diarrhea in cat has multiple causes including food allergy, food intolerance, parasites, bacteria and even nerves. Treatment involves understanding the cause and treating the symptoms to avoid dehydration.."

There are several causes of cat diarrhea. Each cause has different treatment methods. The most common cause of diarrhea is food. Other causes include bacteria, parasites (worms, coccidia) and protozoa. Diseases that cause diarrhea include feline liver disease and disease in the pancreas.

Your cat can also get diarrhea when streesed such as when another cat is brought home.

Diarrhea can also be cause by inflammatory bowel disease (IDB) . This is a term generally used to describe a gastrointestinal problem. It is often accompanied by vomiting.

Diarrhea in Cat Due to Bacteria

If you cat's diarrhea is caused by bacteria, medications such as kaolin-pectin, bismuth subsalicylate, activated charcoal, and barium provide a protective coating on the lining of those surfaces in the digestive system that are suffering from inflammation. Bismuth subsalicylate is thought to work the best. Bismuth dosed at 0.5 to 1 ml/kg BID for 2 to 3 days is safe in cats although it may prolong the length of the diarrhea. Only give bismuth (pepto-bismol) under the direction of a veterinarian.

Cat Salmonella

This is a bacteria that causes diarrhea in cats. This type of diarrhea is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, desire not to eat and vomiting.

Treatment for cat salmonella starts with antibiotics to fight infection (chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfa, amoxicillin, and fluoroquinolones).

Diarrhea in Cat Due to Parasites

Feline Giardia

Giardia is a parasite which is a common cause of diarrhea in cats. Diarrhea due to giardia often has a bad smell. Other symptoms include a pale look on your cat and in some cases weight loss.

Treatment: Medications prescribed for giardia include fenbendazole (in one clinical trial study it only helped 50% of the cats tested). Metronidazole benzoate has shown to be effective (Drontal Plus®)

Feline Tritrichomonas Foetus

T. foetusis a parasite that causes large bowel diarrhea in cats. Other symptoms include blood or mucus in the diarrhea.

Treatment for tritrichomonas does not exist. Antibiotics might be prescribed for treatment of possible infection. Dietary change sometimes helps. One medication that is sometimes used, but not approved in cats is Ronidazole. There are potential side effects (liver damage, nerve damage) so be sure to discuss them with your veterinarian before treatment begins.

Diarrhea in Cat Due to Protozoa

Feline Coccidia (ISOSPORA SPP.)

Feline coccidia is a protozoa that is a common cause of diarrhea in kittens.

Treatment: Several medications are prescribed for this type of diarrhea including Sulfadimethoxime (e.g. Albon®) and amprolium. It is common for treatments not to work or it worked and your cat was reinfected. Other medications that are tried include Toltrazuril and Ponazuril (Marquis Paste, Bayer). The Marquis paste is usually used for horses.

Diarrhea in Cat Due to Diet

Diarrhea can be caused by a reaction to diet, particularly in kittens. Your cat could be having a negative reaction to a specific food, food additive, preservative or flavoring. If you suspect diet is the cause of cat diarrhea then you might want to try a diet that is low fat, with balanced levels of protein and carbohydrates. Like humans cats can be lactose intolerant and gluten. Diarrhea can also be caused by a switch from dry food to canned. Canned cat food in general contains less carbohydrates and may be worth trying.

Treatment: You can try different diets. Each contains different types of additives designed to aid digestion such as soluble fiber, omega3 fatty acids, prebiotics, probiotics and antioxidants. New diets should be tried for a period of 2 weeks before deciding if it was effective. Probiotics in particular can help restore some balance to the digestive system. If your cat is suffering from food intolerance commercial brands to try include Eukanuba Response LB, Prescription Diet Feline d/d or Prescription Diet z/d Ultra Allergen Free Feline.

Several natural remedies are associated with supporting a healthy digestive system. If diarrhea is persistent and you suspect that the digestive system is out of balance, it might be worth researching and discussing this option with your veterinarian. One product to research is RunnyPoo Relief. It is a natural remedy containing herbal and homeopathic ingredients which are carefully selected to maintain digestive balance, firm stools and healthy bowel functioning.

Cat has Diarrhea due to Cat Viruses

Many feline viruses can have diarrhea as a symptoms including:

Treatment: Diarrhea due to cat virus is treated by keeping the symptoms from harming your cat while your cat's immune system fights the viral infection. Dehydration is a symptom associated with diarrhea caused by virus. Treatment includes avoidance of dehydration and your cat's desire not to eat. Your cat might need supportive care in the veterinarians office such as a feeding tube.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Cat Diarrhea

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a general term that is used to name a broad set of symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss. The condition can be caused by infection, sensitivity to food, food intolerance, protozoa and parasites and tumors (neoplasia).

Research shows that food is the cause 30% of the time. Cats with diarrhea sometimes have a lower than normal levels of the vitamin cobalamin. If this is the case, a typical dose for an adult cat is 250 µg IM weekly for 4 weeks, then monthly). Even if the cat diarrhea stops, it might make sense to continue with the supplement.

One supplement that may be of benefit is omega 3 fatty acids. While helpful in other animals, there are no studies confirming that it helps with cats.


Feline Infectious Diarrhea Update
Kate F. Hurley, DVM, MPVM
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis, CA

Diarrhea in Kittens and Adult Cats
D.L. Zoran
College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University, TX

Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approach to the Cat with Chronic Diarrhea Stanley L. Marks, BVSc, PhD, Dip. ACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology), Dip. ACVN
University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine
Davis, California, USA


Diarrhea in Cat to More Information on Cat Diarrhea

To Cat Health Guide Home