Symptoms of Cat Diarrhea

Causes and Symptoms of Cat Diarrhea

Do you remember the last time that you had diarrhea?

It’s not a pleasant experience.

First, the volcanic rumbles of your stomach.

Second, the inescapable dash to the toilet to seal the deal.

Third, the regret of having that spicy meal! (Other causes not mentioned here).

Well, imagine suffering that as a cat.

Like humans, cats also suffer the indignity of diarrhea.

The feelings of unease, bloating, and strain are quite common among our feline companions.

Unfortunately for them, they seldom have the luxury of a hot water bottle, duvet, and Netflix to ease the pain.

But what are the causes and symptoms of cat diarrhea?

This article will explain all and will more than likely describe some rather discomforting images.


Especially with a cat, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons behind the causes of the come-on of diarrhea – since there are so many different causes!

Your fur-baby can be suffering at the hands of any of these reasons: Diet (Ingestion and Allergy), Bacteria/Viral and Parasites and Disease.


Like humans, often the most common cause of diarrhea among cats is from diet-related issues.

Although common, diet-related diarrhea is predominantly a short-term affliction and shouldn’t consign your cat to too much strain.

Dietary related causes of diarrhea amongst cats tend to differ based on the age of the cat, though this not mutually exclusive.

For young kittens, owners commonly start to wean their companion on designated cat food after a few weeks and months.

However, this weaning process commonly leads to diarrhea as the young cat’s digestive system often takes time to adjust to the new diet.

A common example of this is milk.

With many cats, intolerant to lactose (a sugar found in milk) can lead to consequently sufferable symptoms of diarrhea.

For older felines, sometimes curiosity does indeed kill the cat.

The scavenging process often presents some overly decayed meat which proves unsettling for the tummy of the older, curious cat-again, leading to diarrhea.

Advice for cat owners: Many of these diet-related causes of diarrhea for younger cats are preventable.

Run a Google check to see if the food you are providing is safe and minimises risk.

A simple guide can be found here, or alternatively, talk to your vet specifically.

Bacterial, Viral, and Parasites

diarrhea amongst cat

Often referred to as “infectious causes”, there are a wide variety of infections that can cause both mild and life-threatening diarrhea amongst cats.

In most cases, bacterial infections that cause diarrhea in cats are salmonella and campylobacter.

Salmonellosis – the name of the infection – is caused by the cat having multiple types of salmonella (bacteria) microorganisms.

Both younger and older cats are at risk to salmonellosis because of either an underdeveloped or weak immune system.

More serious salmonellosis cases feature diarrhea, which can even last a three to four week period with no clear explanation.

Another bacterial infection causing diarrhea in cats is Campylobacter, which is most associated with young or stray cats below the age of six months.

In many cases, kittens have contracted campylobacter from the kennels where there is a greater potential for contamination.

It is important to note that both salmonellosis and campylobacter are “zoonotic”, which means that they can be transferred to humans.

Please be careful!

Viral infections also frequently lead to diarrhea in cats.

Two well-known viral infections are feline parvovirus and feline leukaemia virus.

Feline parvovirus is caused through a direct contact between the mouth of the cat and faecal matter as well as other contaminated objects such as dirty plates, bedding or clothes.

The diarrhea caused by feline parvovirus tends to last up to six weeks following the infection.

Watch out if your cat is sniffing around something potentially unhygienic.

Diarrhea for six weeks sounds absolutely awful.

Feline leukaemia virus is one that you hope your cat does not have to suffer from-although you probably don’t want your cat to suffer, at all.

International Cat Care suggest that 80-90% of cats who contract the virus die within 4 years.

Large amounts of the virus are often shed through faeces which take the form of diarrhea.

The virus is most commonly contracted through social contact between cats such as sharing bowls of food.

Furthermore if contracted by a female, the virus will also spread to any offspring.

A parasite that some studies reveal leads to diarrhea in cats is tritrichomonas foetus infection.

The parasite is known for mainly causing colitis which leads to an extensive and uncontrollable diarrhea.

The parasite is most commonly found in cats under 12 months old and cats living in a multi-cat household.

Severe diarrhea cases of the tritrichomonas foetus infection often lead to an inflamed anus.


The diarrhea can last up to two years if it is not treated early; therefore it is imperative to monitor the faecal discharge of your cat.


Systemic diseases that can cause diarrhea in cats include kidney and liver disease.

Chronic kidney disease has been estimated to be present in up to 50% of cats over the age of 15.

As kidneys are responsible for maintaining the balance of fluids in the body, the domino effect of fluid imbalance can result in diarrhea.

The liver is particularly crucial in the digestive process.

Whenever any harmful toxins are ingested, they reach the liver, and your cat becomes increasingly susceptible to diarrhea.

There are many types of liver diseases affecting cats, and this is because cats tend to lack some important pathways to digest harmful toxins.

A non-systemic disease that commonly leads to diarrhea in cats is inflammatory bowel disease.

This disease is widely acknowledged as the most frequent cause of long-term chronic diarrhea in cats.

It is caused through sharp inflammation of the intestine, and there is currently no definitive answer as to what causes this inflammation.

Some experts make reference bacterial infections or food allergies as a source for the inflammation.

Unfortunately, Siamese cats are particularly vulnerable to inflammatory bowel disease, therefore if you do own a Siamese cat beware of the potential of any diarrheal issues.


There a variety of symptoms of diarrhea in cats, some of which may not appear as obvious.

Nonetheless, they all significantly contribute to the general discomfort that diarrhea creates.

Loose and Frequent Stools

This refers to your cat needing to go “number 2” on an abnormally regular basis.

As humans often can feel and hear the ever-changing movements of the bowels, the same can be observed with cats.

Typically, cats should pass a bowel movement at least once per day, therefore any observant owners should be alarmed at the potential for diarrhea if your cat is pooping far more regularly than that.

Increased Liquid Content of Faeces

If your cat’s faeces are much more watery than normal they more than likely have diarrhea.

The viscosity of the faeces can vary from soft-formed to watery and furthermore, the faeces may well be a darker or lighter colour than normal.

Some diarrheal stools have also been known to be red, yellow or green.

Flatulence and Defecation Strain

Does it smell a bit gassy in your house?

Maybe your cat is having to release excess fumes as a symptom of diarrhea.

If your cat’s behaviour in the defecation process seems odd, for example, they may be trying to defecate in multiple places and leave a discharge trail; they are more than likely demonstrating a strained defecation which is a common symptom of diarrhea.

Decreased Appetite and Weight Loss

Has the food you left out for your cat been untouched?

It is quite common for a cat suffering from diarrhea to completely lose their appetite.

This can, therefore, lead to weight loss which should become particularly evident after one week of your cat suffering from symptoms of diarrhea.


Has your cat been pretty immobile during the day?

Similar to humans, if you’re suffering from diarrhea you more than likely won’t want to do anything.

Therefore, if your cat is camped on the sofa or bed, don’t just assume they’re lazy, they may, in fact, be suffering from diarrhea.

However, more often than not – cats are usually pretty lazy.


Has your cat been demanding water all day?

It is common for diarrhea suffers to feel constantly in need of water as the regular bowel movements and watery faeces shift a lot of water out of the body.

As a cat owner, dealing with a cat with diarrhea can be a bit of nuisance, and it is hard to gauge initially exactly how severe the diarrhea is.

Having explored the various causes and symptoms, it is evident that our feline companions share much of the same difficulties that us humans do with diarrhea.

It’s recommended for cat owners to take heed of the symptoms and causes detailed above and to take the most appropriate actions where necessary.

If in doubt treat your cat like your human friend.

Observe their behaviour and actions, and before long you will be able to help your friend to reduce any suffering.

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