Cat Diarrhea Treatment: What to Give Cats With Diarrhea

Jennifer Coates, DVM
By Jennifer Coates, DVM. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM on Apr. 9, 2024
A large cat sits by an autumnal window.

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What do you do when you find diarrhea in your cat’s litter box? Or, worse yet, when your cat doesn’t make it to their litter box?

Some cats will have diarrhea and no other obvious changes to their demeanor. Others will have additional symptoms.

There are some remedies you can try at home to help soothe your cat's upset stomach.

Let’s look at how to respond when your cat develops diarrhea.

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When To Go To the Veterinarian for Cat Diarrhea

Evaluate the severity of your cat’s diarrhea and their overall condition when trying to decide if they should see a veterinarian.

If your cat has relatively mild diarrhea and isn’t showing other symptoms, try some at-home treatment first.

Call your veterinarian immediately if:

Cat Diarrhea Treatment Plan

Once you’ve determined that your cat is a candidate for home treatment, you may wonder what to give cats for diarrhea.

Let’s look at a few at-home remedies for cat diarrhea.

1. Change Your Cat’s Food

There is no need to withhold food from cats who have diarrhea.

In fact, doing so can hinder the intestinal tract’s ability to heal itself and put cats at risk for a potentially fatal type of liver disease called hepatic lipidosis.

However, it’s best to simplify your cat’s diet. Don’t feed them any treats or table scraps and focus only on the core, nutritionally-complete cat food that you offer every day.

If you have recently changed your cat’s diet, go back to what you were previously feeding and see if your cat’s diarrhea resolves. One or more of the ingredients in the new food may not agree with your cat.

Even if you are feeding the same brand and type of food as before but have just opened a new batch, it might be worth buying a new bag or case from a different lot number to rule out the possibility of contamination.

More chronic adverse reactions to food can develop at any time—a cat may have been eating the same food for years or recently been switched to something new.

Many cats with food intolerances or allergies will experience relief from their symptoms when they eat a hypoallergenic or low-antigen diet.

The best low-antigen foods are only available through veterinarians, but over-the-counter options do work for some cats. Look for diets that are made from novel protein sources. All diet changes should be approved by your vet—they know your pet’s health history and can ensure a change in food is a safe choice.

2. Fiber

Some types of cat diarrhea get better with a low-fiber (highly digestible) diet. A low-fiber diet may be worth it if your cat doesn’t have diarrhea often but when they do they produce a lot of stools. Look for foods that are advertised as being highly digestible or good for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Certain types of cat diarrhea tend to respond to fiber supplementation—particularly conditions that make cats defecate frequently but produce only a small amount of feces.

Unflavored psyllium and canned pumpkin or pumpkin powder are available fiber supplements.

No hard and fast rules for how to dose psyllium or pumpkin in cats exist. Starting with one to two teaspoons of either mixed into your cat’s food over one day is a reasonable place to start.

3. Encourage Water and Electrolyte Intake

Cats with diarrhea need to take in sufficient amounts of water to prevent dehydration.

Keep your cat’s water bowls filled with fresh, clean water and consider adding an extra bowl that contains diluted chicken or beef broth. A water fountain is also something you can use to encourage your cat to drink more water.

Another easy way to increase your cat’s water intake is to switch them from kibble to a wet canned diet. It's best to stick with the canned food equivalent (same brand and flavor) to avoid further stomach upset. Temporarily, you can even mix an extra tablespoon or two of warm water into your cat’s wet canned food.

4. Probiotics

Healthy bacterial populations within a cat’s intestinal tract are necessary for normal digestion. Sometimes when they are disrupted, a cat’s diarrhea will continue even after the initial insult (stress, disease, antibiotic therapy, etc.) has resolved.

Probiotic supplements can help return a cat’s intestinal bacterial population to normal. Pick a probiotic that is labeled for use in cats and made by a reputable company.

5. Anti-Diarrheal Medications

Because some are dangerous to cats, most anti-diarrheal medications should not be used without your vet's supervision. However, kaolin-pectin supplements can be used safely in cats.

Monitoring Your Cat’s Condition

If home remedies for your cat's diarrhea don’t work within 48 hours or other symptoms develop or get worse, call your veterinarian.

Cat Diarrhea Treatment FAQs

Can you give cats Pepto Bismol®?

No! Pepto Bismol® is not safe for cats. This medication (as well as Kaopectate®) contains salicylates, which can cause respiratory failure and hyperglycemia. Symptoms include stomach irritation or ulcers, bleeding problems, seizures, and liver damage.

What can I give kittens for diarrhea?

Diarrhea in kittens can be caused by many different things thus the treatment is variable. Probiotics and fiber supplementation can help kittens with diarrhea to bulk up the stool.

If a kitten has diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours—or if they have any other symptoms—they see their vet for an exam.

Will yogurt help a cat with diarrhea?

While yogurt might help humans with diarrhea, it's not helpful for cats. Yogurt doesn’t contain the bacteria that a cat needs to help support their digestive system.

Probiotic supplements should be used instead. The dairy and sugar in yogurt can also make your cats upset stomach worse—cats are not designed to eat human food.

Jennifer Coates, DVM


Jennifer Coates, DVM


Dr. Jennifer Coates is an accomplished veterinarian, writer, editor, and consultant with years of experience in the fields of veterinary...

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