Home Remedies for Cats with Diarrhea

By: Shanna Freeman & Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley  | 
Cats are known for liking milk but, while a little bit now and then is fine, it can actually give them diarrhea. Pixabay

Diarrhea is a problem that most pet parents might not want to talk about, but it can be even more serious for cats than for humans. If you're cleaning your cat's litter box and notice that her stools have been loose lately, it could be cause for concern.

When the body needs to get rid of something quickly, it speeds up the action of the intestines and cuts down on water reabsorption from the gut. Diarrhea is actually a defense mechanism. Once the cat's body has expelled the suspect stuff — and no more is taken in — diarrhea usually clears up by itself. So it's possible that your cat has just eaten something that didn't agree with her stomach, and there's no real reason to worry.


However, certain viruses and diseases, a change in diet or a food allergy can also trigger diarrhea. If it's one of these causes, the diarrhea may not clear up for several days. Because it also removes a lot of fluid from the body, bouts of diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours may cause dehydration, which is a potentially serious condition.

Start by making a mental checklist of the previous 24 hours. Some things to think about:

  • Did your cat rummage through the garbage?
  • Did she drink some milk (which can cause diarrhea due to the lactose content)?
  • Did she have a snack of "people" food?
  • Did she eat a new food of any kind?
  • Did she experience a major stress or trauma (such as a plane trip)?

Now think about the past week and anything unusual that may have occurred:

  • Has there been an increase in stress for the cat?
  • Did she eat some nonfood item?
  • Has she been showing other symptoms of illness?

Call the vet immediately if severe (watery or "explosive") diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours or if diarrhea worsens, is bloody or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, fever or difficulty walking. It could be anything from something like worms to something more serious like panleukopenia (feline distemper).

If your cat just has mild diarrhea, however, you can treat it at home. Read on to learn about some home remedies for a cat with diarrhea.


Treating a Cat With Diarrhea

There are a few different things that you can try when treating your cat's diarrhea at home. One of them is changing her diet (although you will want to consult your vet first, as with all of these home remedies). Cat food often includes dyes and other artificial ingredients, which may make your cat's gut have to work harder to process them. Switching to a more natural brand can help clear up the current trouble and prevent future bouts. Watch out, though — changing foods can also cause intestinal upsets, so do it gradually.

You also may consider giving your cat a bland home-cooked diet until the diarrhea subsides. Two parts cooked white rice mixed with one part boiled hamburger or chicken is easy to digest. Some cats balk at rice, so you can use plain mashed potatoes instead. Rice-based cat foods are also available at most pet supply stores.


Sometimes a 12 to 24 hour fast is enough to calm things down. If nothing at all goes in (except water), there's nothing to process, and the diarrhea should go away. When you resume feeding, begin with the bland rice mixture, then slowly mix in regular food, reducing the amount of the rice mixture until the cat is back on a normal diet.

A bulk-forming laxative such as Metamucil (use the plain kind) seems to have a normalizing effect on cats with diarrhea. If your cat's stools are still a little soft during or after a couple of days of the bland diet, try adding about a half-teaspoon of the Metamucil laxative to each of his or her meals for a day or two.

It's important that a cat with diarrhea keeps drinking and has access to plenty of fresh water. Besides losing fluids, a cat with diarrhea is losing key nutrients called electrolytes that are essential for nerve function. To replenish them, you can give your cat unflavored Pedialyte, an electrolyte beverage designed for infants and children. Mix with his or her water, or give with a dropper.

Relaxation, stress reduction and gentle exercise (take your cat for a walk on a leash and harness, if she likes it) may be all that are needed to clear up an attack of loose stools. Avoid the temptation to use over-the-counter diarrhea products designed for humans, unless your vet specifically tells you to.

Hopefully, one or more of these home remedies will have everything moving normally again through your cat's colon — making both of you happier.


Cat Diarrhea FAQ

What can I give my cat for diarrhea?
Start by switching to a more natural brand of cat food so that your cat's gut doesn’t have to work so hard to digest the food. If your cat's stools continue to be a little soft after about a week on the new diet, add a half-teaspoon of Metamucil to each of its meals for two days. You can also give your cat unflavored Pedialyte, an electrolyte beverage, to make up for the key nutrients lost because of the diarrhea.
Why does my indoor cat have diarrhea?
The most likely reason is that your cat ate something that didn’t agree with their stomach. Other reasons could be certain illness, a stuck hairball, a change in diet or food allergy.
When should I take my cat to the vet for diarrhea?
Mild diarrhea can be easily treated at home and usually goes away on its own. However, you should take your cat to a vet immediately if severe (watery or "explosive") diarrhea continues for more than a day, if it worsens, is bloody or if it is accompanied by vomiting and fever.
What can cause a cat to have constant diarrhea?
Constant or prolonged diarrhea in cats is usually caused by infectious agents. These agents could be viruses, bacteria, coccidia or intestinal worms. It could also be caused by non-infectious irritants like chemical toxins or poisonous plants.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • ASPCA. "Diarrhea." ASPCA Cat Care. 2011. (Jan. 7, 2022)                          http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/diarrhea.aspx
  • Barchas, Eric. "Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs." 2011. Dr. Barchas. (Jan. 7, 2022)   http://drbarchas.com/diarrhea
  • Cat Health Guide. "Cat Diarrhea." Cat Health Guide. 2009. (Jan. 7, 2022)             http://www.cat-health-guide.org/catdiarrhea.html
  • Coates, Jennifer, DVM. "Cat Diarrhea: 5 Treatment Options You Should Try." PetMD. Sept. 29, 2017 (Jan. 7, 2022) https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/cat-diarrhea-5-treatment-options-you-should-try
  • Foster, Race. "Diarrhea & Vomiting in Cats." Pet Education. 2011. (Jan. 7, 2022)  http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2122&aid=254 
  • Nash, Holly. "Diarrhea in Cats." Foster & Smith. 2011. (Jan. 7, 2022)  http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2122&aid=3573
  • PetMD Editorial. "Feline Panleukopenia Virus in Cats (Feline Distemper)." July 31, 2009. (Jan. 7, 2022) https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_ct_feline_panleukopenia
  • Parker, Richard."Can Cats Eat Rice And Chicken?" Senior Cat Wellness. (Jan. 7, 2022) https://www.seniorcatwellness.com/can-cats-eat-rice-and-chicken/
  • VetInfo. "Cat Dehydration Treatment with Pedialyte." (Jan. 7, 2022) https://www.vetinfo.com/cat-dehydration-treatment-with-pedialyte.html