White cat eating from food bowl

Most diarrhoea is mild and self-resolving after a few days.

© Shutterstock

What should I feed my cat if they have diarrhoea?

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

A change of diet is neccesary if your cat has diarrhoea, but what food you give will depend on whether it's a mild stomach upset or something worse.

Diarrhoea in cats can last a few days or much longer and, as such, what you feed them when they're ill will depend on how long they've had the upset stomach for. It will also depend on if they have other symptoms at the same time, as you'll see in this article.

What should I feed a cat with diarrhoea? 

If your cat has mild diarrhoea, it is fine to keep feeding them their usual diet. A change of diet can upset the delicate balance of gut flora. More persistent diarrhoea may clear up by giving very bland food, such as boiled chicken or white fish, which is easy for the gut to digest. This should only be given for a few days, as it is not balanced with the correct nutrients for maintaining long-term health.

It is best to feed wet food to ensure your cat stays hydrated, but this food can also be quite rich. Offering the water you boil chicken or fish in can encourage increased water intake. Feeding a ‘sensitive’ stomach diet for a few days can also help. If you do alter your cat’s diet, it is important not to swap them back to their regular food suddenly. Mix the two foods 50:50 for a few days to allow the gut flora to re-balance.

What home remedy can I give my cat for diarrhoea?

Feeding a bland protein-based diet for a few days may help to stop your cat’s diarrhoea. Boiled chicken or white fish are the best options.

What should I do if my cat has diarrhoea?

If your cat has diarrhoea but is otherwise bright and well, eating and drinking normally, then it is okay to wait a few days to see if the diarrhoea clears up. Most diarrhoea will be mild and self-limiting. It is important to ensure good hygiene, cleaning and disinfection of litter trays while wearing gloves, and thorough hand washing in case the diarrhoea has an infectious cause that may affect people. Pregnant women should not come into contact with cat faeces, especially diarrhoea. If the diarrhoea persists for a week or more, or if your cat is unwell before this, you should seek veterinary advice.

Should I starve my cat if it has diarrhoea?

Starving animals with diarrhoea will reduce the amount of faeces produced, as there is less being eaten. But it will also starve the gut and can delay healing and resolution of the diarrhoea. Cats get a lot of water from wet food and are at increased risk of becoming dehydrated if it is suddenly withdrawn – remember diarrhoea also causes increased loss of water. Therefore, it is best to ‘feed through’ diarrhoea, even if it means you will have a bit more to clean up.

Why does my indoor cat have diarrhoea?

Cats can have diarrhoea for a number of reasons – both infectious and non-infectious. They don’t necessarily have to come into contact with other cats to pick up infectious causes, as some pathogens are present in food, especially raw meat. Some bacteria can affect humans and pass between us and our cats. Certain viruses and bacteria can survive in the environment – on our clothes for example – so we can carry them into the house.

Non-infectious triggers can include dietary allergies and stress. Cats tend to develop allergies around four to five years of age, so they may have tolerated a stable diet for years before becoming allergic to it. Stress can include a new member of the family (animal or human) or changes to the environment, such as redecorating.

What can I give my cat to stop diarrhoea?

If your cat has persistent diarrhoea, the first thing to try is an easily digestible diet for ‘sensitive’ stomachs. These diets are designed to help the gut heal itself and reduce the amount of faeces produced, as it is easier to absorb the nutrients. Probiotics and prebiotics can help to re-balance gut flora and have been shown to reduce the number of days of diarrhoea in some studies. Paste containing kaolin – a binding agent – should help to firm the faeces. If the cause is more persistent, additional treatment, such as worming and antibiotics may be recommended. A change of diet may be needed for chronic diarrhoea, if a food allergy has developed.

How can I harden my cat’s stool?

Kaolin is commonly used to help bind up loose faeces. It is important to use a formulation that is safe for cats and at the correct dosage. Cats are also very prone to constipation, so monitor your cat’s faeces to ensure they are not becoming too hard. Fibre can also bulk out the faeces – a vet may recommend a specific diet for this, as cats should not have a large carbohydrate component to their diet.

Will cat diarrhoea go away on its own?

Most diarrhoea is mild and self-resolving after a few days. If it persists beyond this, it is important to have your cat checked by a vet for more persistent or harmful underlying causes.

What can you give a cat to stop diarrhoea?

If diarrhoea persists for a few days, feeding a bland diet for sensitive stomachs for a week or so can help to resolve the diarrhoea. Additional probiotic/prebiotic supplements and kaolin can also help. Some diarrhoea will need more intensive treatment to stop.

When should I go to a vet?

It is important to have your cat checked by a vet, if they are unwell with diarrhoea. In addition vomiting, not eating, not drinking and reduced energy are all signs your cat may need additional treatment to get better. If your cat is otherwise well and behaving normally, but the diarrhoea is persistent for more than a few days, it is best to have your cat checked. At this stage it is useful to take a poo sample to the vet – ideally collected over a few days, as some pathogens are only shed intermittently in the faeces.

What should I ask a vet about the best diet for a cat with diarrhoea?

With persistent diarrhoea a vet may recommend a prescription diet designed to help the gut heal and recover. There are anecdotal stories that raw food can help cats with diarrhoea, but there are increasing reports of bacteria harmful to both cats and people being present in raw food, with the potential to cause illness in humans. The vet is unlikely to recommend raw feeding unless all other treatment options have failed and infectious causes have been ruled out.

More advice on...

What did you think of this advice article?

Thanks for your feedback !

Thanks for your feedback !

1 person found this advice article helpful.

Leave a comment
Connect to comment
Want to share this article?