Fetch pays back up to 90% of unexpected vet bills

Get a free quote

Photo of a multi-colored cat laying on his side.

Health & Wellness

Diarrhea in cats: treatment and when to see a vet

When your cat has an upset stomach, it’s important to know how to relieve their diarrhea.

Coming home to a cat suffering from diarrhea (and dealing with the resulting mess) is never fun — for you or your cat. And while occasional diarrhea may be completely normal, it’s important that you do what you can to help your cat feel better fast. 

Why does my cat have diarrhea?

When your cat has diarrhea, it can be hard to know if you’re dealing with an illness or a reaction to their change in diet. That’s why it’s important to observe your cat when they have diarrhea and to do what you can to ease the symptoms.

“Diarrhea in cats can be caused by many things, including a food change, eating something they shouldn’t have, a viral or bacterial infection, parasites, toxins or food intolerances,” Dr. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, a veterinary consultant for PetKeen, says. “Mild cases of diarrhea due to a food change or stress usually clear up within a couple of days. See your veterinarian if diarrhea lasts longer than 48 hours, is bloody, if your cat is dehydrated or if it’s getting worse.”

What to give your cat for diarrhea

When treating your cat at home for a mild case of diarrhea, Dr. Bonk suggests serving them a bland, easily-digestible diet as the first line of defense — just get your vet’s approval before making this switch. Ask if it’s OK to serve foods like boiled chicken and rice (without added any salt or other spices) to give your cat’s digestive system a break. She also says you might want to add a bit of canned pumpkin or green beans to increase their fiber intake.

“Always offer plenty of fresh, clean water,” Dr. Bonk adds, noting that dehydration is a common side effect when cats experience vomiting and diarrhea. Your vet may also want you to add a cat-friendly probiotic to your pet’s diet. 

However, you should never give human medications to your pet for diarrhea. While some might be okay to use under a vet’s supervision, Dr. Bonk says you should never self-prescribe medicines for your cat.

RELATED: Can cats get Covid-19?

Fetch by The Dodo Pet Insurance Logo

Help your dog live a healthier, longer life.

Introducing the Fetch Health Forecast.

Get your dog's free forecast

Recommended by vet Dr. Evan Antin.

Best cat food for diarrhea

If your cat has a sensitive stomach, you should talk to your vet about the best cat foods available to help prevent diarrhea. Dr. Bonk says high-fiber, low-calorie foods are often good options.

When to see a vet for your cat’s diarrhea

An occasional bout of diarrhea, while certainly uncomfortable for your cat, may be nothing to worry about. Dr. Bonk says this is particularly true if you know your cat often eats things they shouldn’t. That said, if your cat has diarrhea that doesn’t improve after a day or two, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. Likewise, if your cat appears to have regular bouts of diarrhea, it’s important to see your vet to make sure there’s not something more serious going on. And remember: sick-visit exams for diarrhea are covered with Fetch cat insurance, as long as you're already enrolled and the waiting period has passed.

The good news is, most mild cases of diarrhea clear up within a couple of days — leaving your cat (and you) feeling better. Just keep an eye on your feline friend and never be afraid to place a call to your vet if you’re not sure what to do.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

Save up to 90% on unexpected vet bills

Use any veterinarian in the U.S. or Canada

Rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot

The most comprehensive pet insurance

Photo by Nadia Degrassi on Unsplash

Sign up for our newsletter

Get a free quote