Diarrhoea in cats

Dealing with diarrhoea is an uncomfortable experience for our cats.

If your feline friend is suffering from soft stools (poo), it’s important to understand the potential causes, symptoms, and treatments for their diarrhoea. It’s also helpful to know the ways you can prevent diarrhoea from upsetting your cat.

Causes of diarrhoea in cats

Finding the cause of cats’ diarrhoea can take us a step closer to managing it properly.

Here are some of the common causes of diarrhoea in cats:

  • Eating something toxic (e.g. chocolate, grapes, onions, etc.). 
  • Swallowing an inedible object (e.g. toy, rubber band, string, etc.).
  • Worms (e.g. roundworm, tapeworm, etc.).
  • Food intolerance or allergy.
  • Viral infection (e.g. Feline Leukaemia Virus [FeLV]).
  • Bacterial infection (e.g. salmonella).
  • Reaction to medicine.
  • Liver disease.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Please note: If you think your cat could’ve eaten something poisonous, you’ll need to contact a vet straight away.

Symptoms of diarrhoea in cats

The amount, consistency, and colour of your cat’s diarrhoea could let you know the cause of it (e.g. worms).

Alongside their soft, watery stools, your cat may show other symptoms that are linked to their diarrhoea, including:

  • Signs of depression and/or lethargy (quieter than usual).
  • Vomiting, coughing, and/or sneezing.
  • Gurgling sounds from their tummy.
  • Excess wind.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Not grooming themselves properly.
  • Pain (e.g. crying when picked up, refusing to move, etc.).
  • Straining while toileting.
  • Urgency to toilet (they might not reach the litter tray in time).
  • Bloated stomach.
  • Blood in their stool.

Important: Cats can become dehydrated very quickly, especially kittens and senior cats. If your cat isn’t eating or drinking, please contact your vet immediately.

What to do if your cat has diarrhoea

Keep an eye on your cat if they have mild diarrhoea, because if they’re bright and alert, your cat is more likely to recover within a day or so.

Alongside monitoring your cat, you can help them feel a little better by:

  • Providing access to clean, fresh drinking water all day and night.
  • Feeding them a small amount of bland food – plain, boiled chicken or white fish (without skin or bones!), for example.
  • Letting them rest – they’re likely to need extra sleep to recover.

What’s the difference between ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’ diarrhoea?

Acute diarrhoea in cats is usually sudden, lasting around 24 hours. Whereas chronic diarrhoea in cats tends to be long-lasting (more than a few days), and could be caused by a disease, infection, or medical condition.

Vets will often perform tests to find the reason(s) for chronic diarrhoea in cats. But, if your cat has acute diarrhoea, it’s possible for you to treat it at home, following vet advice.

How long will their diarrhoea last?

Monitoring your cat when they’re suffering from diarrhoea is vital. The length of time your cat has diarrhoea depends on different factors, like the cause of their diarrhoea and any of the other symptoms they may be experiencing. 

Cats who have diarrhoea for longer than 24 hours, or if they’re suffering from additional symptoms (e.g. vomiting), may need to see a vet for tests. Be prepared, in case you need to take a sample of your cat’s poo to their vet appointment!

Preventing diarrhoea in cats

While it isn’t always possible to prevent diarrhoea in our cats (especially if they enjoy outdoor adventures!), there are ways we can try to lower the risks of diarrhoea:

  • Keep up with their worming treatments and vaccinations.
  • Feed them good-quality cat food.
  • Remove all poisonous plants from your house and garden(s).
  • Avoid cat toys with string or pieces that could be accidentally swallowed.
  • Don’t let them eat anything they shouldn’t be eating.
  • Limit their access to prey, where possible.

Best way to clean up your cat’s diarrhoea 

In extremely rare cases, it’s possible for feline infections to be passed to humans who handle their cat’s bodily fluids (e.g. diarrhoea and vomit). So, it’s essential you know how to safely clean up after your cat, to prevent the spread of potentially serious infections.

Cleaning cat diarrhoea from the carpet:

Step 1 – Have a bin bag handy (to drop the poop into), and make sure you wear disposable gloves (to protect your hands). Use something strong and thin, like an old spatula (that’ll need throwing away after this!) to lift as much poop off the carpet as you can. 

Step 2 – Spray the diarrhoea spot with a non-toxic, non-staining disinfectant.

Step 3 – While still wearing those disposable gloves, use sheets of kitchen roll to scrub disinfectant (and stains!) out of the carpet.

Step 4 – Throw all soiled kitchen roll sheets and gloves into the bin bag, tie it up, then throw in an outside bin (to stop smells lingering in your home).

Step 5 – Thoroughly wash your hands before doing anything else.

Extra tip: You may need a non-toxic, cat-safe cleaning product or detergent to completely remove unpleasant smells from thick carpets, after you’ve cleaned up your cat’s diarrhoea.

Cleaning cat diarrhoea from a litter tray:

Step 1 – Every time you notice your cat has had diarrhoea, it’s important to clean up quickly, to prevent them from tracking mess around your house. Completely remove all cat litter and diarrhoea from their litter tray, making sure it all goes into the same bin bag.

Step 2 – Disinfect their litter tray using a cat-friendly product.

Step 3 – Fill litter tray with fresh cat litter.

Step 4 – Put the bin bag of soiled litter in an outside bin.

Step 5 – Thoroughly wash your hands before doing anything else.

Animal Friends (cat and dog) policyholders have free 24/7 access to vet video consults through the Joii Pet Care app. So, for expert advice about your cat’s diarrhoea, from the comfort of your home, you can speak to a Joii vet at anytime.


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