Diarrhea is a common digestive problem in cats, as it is with humans and many other animals. In some cases, it can be a slight issue that will naturally subside in a day or two – while in other cases, it could indicate a deeper-rooted problem.
When dealing with your cat’s diarrhea, the main thing is to avoid feeding it food that will worsen its condition. But what to feed it?
If your cat has diarrhea, you must focus on its diet and overall health. However, with a case of chronic diarrhea, you should seek the advice of a vet right away – as this could be a sign of a bigger problem like inflammatory bowel disease.
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To prevent the problem from worsening, the first thing you should do is withhold food. The digestive system is already weak; giving your cat more food will strain it further.
You don’t have to cut out food entirely but reduce portion sizes by up to 50% and increase water intake. Next, you should figure out what is causing diarrhea – has your usual brand of cat food changed its ingredients? Are you trying a new food or treat? Is the water bowl clean and fresh?
As a general rule of thumb, use more than one litter box during this time. This way, there is a lower chance of an accident, and it can get to one easily without being disgusted by the mess.
One of the most common culprits is a recent change in diet. For example, you may have given the cat a snack it doesn’t usually eat, changed food brands, or recently introduced it to new food dishes. Another possibility is that your pet has been out and about and ate something it shouldn’t have during the excursion.
It could have lapped up some poor-quality water from outside that caused an upset tummy. Also, remember that certain cat foods don’t sit well with some cats. Try to narrow down any changes you have made and reset to the last type of food the cat was happy with.
An allergic reaction to a particular ingredient or food could have resulted in the illness. When changing your cat’s diet, you need to make gradual additions. You want to add the new type of food in tiny quantities mixed with the old food it is already familiar with.
Gradually you can start increasing the proportion of new food and reducing the old food until you are serving a whole serving of the new food. But, unfortunately, sudden dietary changes don’t sit well with cats.
Diet Options To Consider
Here are a few diet options to consider to help with cat diarrhea:
One of the best things to give your cat during episodes of diarrhea is rice water. This is quite literally the water that develops when you boil rice. This water contains fiber, carbohydrates, and minerals and helps alleviate gas and bloating.
- A cup of rice
- 4 cups of water
- Get the water to boiling.
- Add in the rice and let it cook for 20-30 minutes or until the water has become white and has a thicker consistency.
- Strain the rice and let the white water cool down.
Serve this water to your cat. You can keep the rice for later (more on this later in the article).
Some cats will drink this rice water without problems, while others may not be easy to work with. In this case, add something with a delicious smell, like some chicken broth. A couple of teaspoons should make the rice water attractive enough for your cat.
The aim is to keep it as plain as possible so it is easy to digest; therefore, avoid including a lot of ingredients or meat.
Rice Water Alternatives
Some cats may reject rice water altogether, no matter how tasty you make it. One of the best alternatives is to use a non-flavored Pedialyte. Just pour it into the water bowl for the cat and allow it to drink at its discretion.
There is no maximum or minimum amount limit – however much the cat drinks is good.
Another option is to give it an electrolyte solution specifically formulated for animals. Electrolytes in liquid form will provide the cat with energy and hydration and prevent nutrient deficiencies due to frequent loose stools.
Both rice water and electrolyte solutions are suitable for kittens and adult cats alike.
Bland Diet Options
The cat’s food has a direct impact on its stool. So during an episode of diarrhea, you want to give your feline friend food that will be easy on the digestive system and help repair the problem.
You can make your cat some rice and chicken using the boiled white rice from earlier. It must be boneless, skinless boiled chicken – not marinated. Cut it into small chunks, add the boiled rice, and serve.
It’s important to note that you want to use regular white rice. Not instant rice or 2-minute rice, and not brown rice, either. Just the plain old white rice. Better quality versions will have fewer additives and chemicals used in processing, which will help with the upset stomach and any food intolerances the cat may have.
Keep the diet portion small. A tablespoon every hour or two will be enough. For kittens, try half a teaspoon. If it settles well, you can serve slightly larger portions.
Even after the diarrhea has subsided, you want to continue with the bland diet for about a week or so. Then, slowly start transitioning back to the regular diet. But, again, this should be in tiny portions and done with caution.
One of the best things for a cat’s diarrhea is fiber. You can find this in things like canned pumpkin or animal fiber supplements that can be added to the cat’s diet. However, you don’t need to add much fiber because too much of it can also be hard for it to process. If you are unsure, always consult your vet for advice.
Lastly, make sure its water intake is good when you use fiber supplements; otherwise, it can make diarrhea worse. The fiber can dry up the cat’s stomach, and loose stools can quickly turn into constipation if there isn’t water and wet food.
Probiotics can work wonders for gut health in cats and humans alike. However, you don’t want to use human medications regarding probiotics for your cat.
Probiotics help restore good gut bacteria and help with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. You can use a natural source of probiotics, such as yogurt or probiotic-enriched yogurt, or medication from your vet.
Before considering dairy yogurt, remember that cats are lactose intolerant. Therefore, lactose-free yogurt should be viewed as an option.
If you aren’t sure about the allergy situation with your pet but want to consider probiotics, first talk to a vet. They will give you the best advice about medicines and dosages to administer.
Eggs are another source of excellent nutrition, fiber, minerals, and other benefits. Usually, cats love eggs, but the higher calorie count and nutritional value can also be slightly problematic.
It would be best not to feed eggs until the diarrhea has cleared up. However, a small portion of scambled eggs can be used as a treat to help build up energy after the stomach upset.
One of the biggest problems with diarrhea is the dehydration that it causes. With an upset stomach, the animal is constantly losing water through the watery stool, and the body is losing salts and energy with the water.
Make sure you are giving the cat enough water so that you can rule out dehydration. A good water intake will also help the gastrointestinal tract process the food you give the cat (rice and chicken, for example).
There are a lot of OTC medicines available for abdominal pain. Some specifically target cats with loose stool, while others are for general health. First, consider something that will help with the loose stool only.
Using medicines for overall health or gut health may be a problem. This is because these medicines can contain other problematic ingredients for a compromised gut to digest.
OTC medicines designed to combat diarrhea in cats are the best option. Additionally, anti-diarrheal medications need to be administered in the correct dosages to have the desired effects. Some medicines, such as those containing salicylates, can be toxic if given in the wrong doses. Advice from your vet is always the best option.
Loose stool and diarrhea are common issues and usually are nothing serious. Give the cat bland food and water to recover; it should be fine in a day or two. However, if the problem persists after day three, it’s time to consult your vet.
Sometimes diseases in organs near the digestive tract cause diarrhea. Kidney disease, pancreatic cancer, intestinal parasites, bacterial infection, and others can all have a similar impact. The important thing here is that you can detect this early on and treat it.
When your cat gets diarrhea, you need to ensure it’s comfortable to aid in its recovery. Book a vet visit immediately if your cat is quite old or very young. Digestive tracts are far more sensitive issues in very old and young cats.
Keep an eye on the condition of diarrhea to inform your veterinarian. In addition, the stool condition is an excellent indicator of the kind of gastrointestinal problems the cat is experiencing. In particular, you want to watch for things like blood, high water content, or a mucus-like texture in the stool.
Nutritional deficiencies are a common and dangerous consequence of diarrhea. Since the animal is losing so much water and its gut cannot absorb nutrients from food properly, it can lead to additional problems if it has a bad diet.
There are a lot of factors that can give a cat an upset stomach. Some of these include:
- Eating toxic items (plants, soap, paper, rubber bands, etc.)
- Food allergies
- Intestinal parasites
- Metabolic problems
- Intussusception (very rare)
- Rapid food changes
To diagnose the problem accurately, a vet must give the cat a detailed checkup to get started with the right treatment plan.
Diarrhea is nothing to worry about in most cases; however, proper treatment is necessary if it indicates a deeper-seated problem.
Home remedies are often enough to overcome these challenges, given that you are consistent with your treatment and begin the treatment process as early as possible. But don’t rely on home treatments if the cat has not recovered after a day or two or if the stool hasn’t started to at least get firm after 48 hours.