While diarrhea in cats is usually not serious, it can cause discomfort, dehydration, and other health issues if left untreated. In this guide, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and natural treatments for diarrhea in cats.

Diarrhea in Cats

Symptoms, Causes & Natural Remedies

Diarrhea is a condition in cats that refers to the passing of soft or watery stools. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, diet changes, allergies, stress, and underlying health conditions. While diarrhea in cats is usually not serious, it can cause discomfort, dehydration, and other health issues if left untreated. In this guide, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and natural treatments for diarrhea in cats.

Symptoms of Diarrhea in Cats

The primary symptom of diarrhea in cats is loose or watery stools. However, other symptoms may also be present, depending on the underlying cause. These may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your veterinarian to assess the issue.

Causes of Diarrhea in Cats

Diarrhea in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Dietary indiscretion: Eating something that doesn’t agree with the cat’s digestive system, such as spoiled food or foreign objects.
  • Changes in diet: Switching to a new food too quickly or abruptly with cats who have sensitive GI tracts can cause diarrhea.
  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can cause diarrhea in cats. Common culprits include giardia & coccidia.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD is a chronic condition in which the cat’s immune system attacks the lining of the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can cause diarrhea – as well as vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Stress: Cats can develop stress-induced diarrhea (colitis) in response to changes in their environment, such as a move to a new home or the introduction of a new pet.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as antibiotics (like metronidazole) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause diarrhea as a side effect.

Natural Treatments for Diarrhea in Cats

If your cat is experiencing mild diarrhea, there are several natural treatments you can try at home to help alleviate the symptoms. These include:

  1. Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. You can find probiotics in supplements or in certain foods, such as kefir. It’s best to choose a probiotic specifically formulated for cats.
  2. Pumpkin: Canned pumpkin is a natural source of fiber that can help regulate the digestive system. Mix a tablespoon of canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) into your cat’s food once or twice a day.
  3. Fasting: In some cases, fasting for 12-18 hours can help give the digestive system a chance to rest and recover. Be sure to provide plenty of water during this fasting time. It is not recommended for a cat to fast for more than 24 hours.
  4. A bland diet: After fasting, cooked ground turkey & canned pumpkin can be a bland, easy-to-digest meal for cats with diarrhea. Mix equal parts of the turkey and pumpkin and feed it to your cat in small amounts throughout the day.
  5. Hydration: Be sure your cat is drinking plenty of water to help prevent dehydration. You can also offer bone broth to entice your cat to drink more.

It’s important to note that while these natural treatments can be helpful for mild cases of diarrhea, more severe cases may need medical care. Consult with your veterinarian if the diarrhea persists for more than a few days.

Dr Karen Becker: Treating Diarrhea at Home:

“If your cat is otherwise healthy and his behavior is normal, my recommendation is to withhold food — not water, just food — for 12 hours. A short-term fast gives the GI tract a chance rest and recuperate.

Follow the 12-hour food fast with a bland diet. I recommend cooked, fat-free ground turkey and 100% canned pumpkin. Try starting with an 85-90% turkey/10-15% pumpkin blend. You can also use fresh, steamed pumpkin or cooked sweet potato. This diet can also be pureed and syringe-fed to kitties who may not feel like eating.

Skip the outdated advice to feed ground beef and rice and go with my recommendation instead. Even lean ground beef is high in fat, which can exacerbate kitty’s tummy troubles, and rice is a starchy, pro-inflammatory carbohydrate that often provides zero nutrition or calories for animals with digestive issues.

Canned 100% pumpkin provides about 80 calories and 7 grams of soluble fiber per cup, compared to 1.2 grams of fiber in a cup of cooked white rice. The soluble fiber in pumpkin coats and soothes the GI tract, and also delays gastric emptying.

When animals have diarrhea, they can lose important electrolytes, including potassium, which puts them at risk of dehydration. Hypokalemia, or low potassium levels, can result in cramping, fatigue, weakness and heart rate irregularities. Pumpkin happens to be an excellent source of potassium, with 505 milligrams of naturally occurring potassium per cup. It’s also safer for diabetic pets than rice, and most animals love it, including cats.

Feed the bland diet to your pet until the diarrhea resolves. If it doesn’t clear up in about three days, it’s time to call your veterinarian. If at any point your cat becomes lethargic or anorexic, seek medical care immediately.

I also recommend keeping slippery elm on hand. Slippery elm is a neutral fiber source that works really well to ease episodes of diarrhea. I call it “nature’s Pepto-Bismol” because it reduces GI inflammation and acts as a non-irritating source of fiber to bulk up the stool and slow down GI transit time.

Give your cat about a half teaspoon or a capsule for each 10 pounds of body weight with every bland meal. I also recommend adding in a good-quality probiotic once the stool starts to firm up.

In addition to slippery elm and probiotics, many pet owners have good luck with gut-specific nutraceuticals and soothing GI herbs such as peppermint, fennel or chamomile. These are especially helpful for the cramping and other uncomfortable GI symptoms that come with diarrhea. Activated charcoal can also help firm the stool if dietary indiscretion is suspected.”

 

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