Cat Diarrhea: How Dangerous Is It?

Cat Diarrhea: How Dangerous Is It?

Author WCF Staff


Experienced cat owners know that diarrhea is one of the most common health issues cats experience. Naturally, cat owners want to know how dangerous cat diarrhea really is and if there’s anything they can do to help their cats deal with this uncomfortable issue. If you’re wondering the same thing, here are a few things you should know about cat diarrhea, its causes, and remedies.

What is cat diarrhea?

Let’s start with the basics - what is cat diarrhea? The easiest way to describe cat diarrhea is - unformed or loose bowel movement that usually happens at an increased frequency. The cat’s fecal matter will pass much faster through its digestive system, preventing them from absorbing necessary nutrients.

VET TIP: Cats are pretty clean, so many cat owners don’t immediately notice their cats are experiencing digestive problems. Make sure you learn signs of cat diarrhea, so you can react faster and get the necessary help.

What causes cat diarrhea?

In order to help your cat, you need to understand what causes cat diarrhea. This is where things get a bit tricky because diarrhea can be caused by all sorts of reasons. This is one of the most common issues vets face, which tells you how common it is. Here are some of the potential causes of cat diarrhea;


Different types of infections can result in diarrhea. If your cat was exposed to viral or bacterial infections, one of the symptoms could be diarrhea.

cat face from side


Cats can get infected with different intestinal and topical parasites. One of the most common symptoms is diarrhea.


You might be surprised to learn that constipation can cause diarrhea. Cats with obstructions in their digestive tract might be able to pass tiny amounts of liquid, which many cat owners misdiagnose as diarrhea.

Dietary indiscretion

Cats are curious and love eating, so they often eat something that doesn’t entirely agree with their stomach. If that happens, one of the first symptoms is diarrhea.

Cat food change

Most experienced owners already know this, but if you change your cat’s food, it can result in diarrhea. This issue can go on for a couple of days until the cat adapts to the new diet.

kitten napping


Another common reason cats get diarrhea is stress. If there are big, life-changing things happening, like moving, new roommates, or redecorating, your cat can get stressed and get diarrhea.


Cats that eat something toxic to them can develop diarrhea. Make sure to keep your cat safely away from toxic things, and never give them human food before checking with your vet.

There are other possible reasons, like medications or specific diseases, that will affect the cat’s digestive systems. Still, it is up to the vet to determine them.

How dangerous is cat diarrhea?

Cat diarrhea's severity and potential danger are directly linked to the cause. For example, if you changed your cat’s diet, diarrhea will most likely pass in a couple of days. However, if your cat ate something toxic, diarrhea can be a sign of a potentially life-threatening situation that needs an urgent veterinary reaction. If your cat develops diarrhea, you should at least know what the potential reason might be.

cat walking outside

What should I do if my cat gets diarrhea?

Most new cat owners will start to panic and get really worried about their cat’s wellbeing. As you can see, they might be right to do so, especially if the cat ate something toxic. However, diarrhea is not something to worry about too much in most cases. The best thing to do is call your vet and tell them what’s going on.

The vet will probably ask you about recent things your cat ate, your life changes, the consistency (yes, different types of diarrhea can mean different things), dietary indiscretions, vaccines, medications, and deworming meds you gave to your cat. Once they get those answers, they can get a clearer picture of possible causes. If the vet is worried about your cat’s health, they will tell you to bring the cat in for a closer examination. They might also ask you to bring a stool sample.

What can I do about my cat’s diarrhea?

Again, the vet will determine the exact treatment based on what caused diarrhea. If the cause is undetermined, and the cat seems fine and is drinking enough water, your vet might suggest you withhold your cat’s food for 24 hours. In some cases, a bland diet is recommended. Something like rice and chicken, or pasta and chicken. The key thing to keep an eye on is water consumption. If your cat refuses to drink, you should immediately tell your vet because dehydration is very dangerous.

Other potential causes might need different treatments. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. As soon as the antibiotic does its job and eliminates bacteria, your cat’s diarrhea should go away. Parasites are dealt with by using cat dewormers for specific types of parasites that infect your cat. Basically, the treatment is determined by the cause.

When should I start to worry?

As we said, diarrhea is usually not something you should worry about. It happens pretty often. However, you should keep an eye on other symptoms that might accompany your cat’s diarrhea. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should start to worry and call your vet immediately;

  • Blood in the stool
  • Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • If you have a kitten or a geriatric cat that might be heavily impacted by diarrhea

In conclusion

Cat diarrhea is a fairly common health issue cats face. It is usually not a reason to be too worried about. However, if diarrhea is combined with other symptoms such as pain, blood, or vomiting, you should immediately call your vet. Cats have delicate digestion systems, and different things might upset them. Remember to keep an eye on your cat and make sure to notice if anything seems off.

World Cat Finder Team

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