Best Cat Food for Diarrhea: How You Can Help Them Recover Quickly

Image showing two cats eating in the same time from two food bowls
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Cats are our best friend, our favorite cuddle partner, and we love these fur balls to the core. As good as they are at calming us with their purring, they are also very good at hiding their own pain.

Among the most common issues that cats face is the problem of indigestion. If your cat is suffering from diarrhea, you need to act quickly to provide them with the best cat food for diarrhea so that they can recover before this condition has the chance to make them suffer or even cost them their lives.

Best Cat Food for Diarrhea

Diarrhea means there is something wrong with the cat’s digestive system, which is why forcing them to keep eating their regular food will only exacerbate the problem since their body can’t process it. During these trying times, it is necessary to give the cat a special type of food that’s easy to digest, contains a lot of moisture so your cat won’t suffer from dehydration, and contains a lot of fiber to help firm up the cat’s stool.

In this article, we will tell you all about cat diarrhea and its remedies. Having dealt with the problem firsthand and having consulted with our in-house experts, we are well equipped to provide you with all the information you need to help your cat recover from bouts of diarrhea. By the end of this article, you will be able to diagnose and give basic treatment to your fur balls.

Causes of Cat Diarrhea

Diarrhea itself is not a disease, but it is an indication that something is not right with the cat’s digestive system. The causes differ depending on the type of diarrhea your cat is suffering from:

Generic Diarrhea

An episode of diarrhea is considered generic if it is not so severe and has not exceeded a period of 3 days. This type of diarrhea is more common in adult cats. They sometimes suffer from it after drinking milk because, after three months of age, cats become intolerant to lactose.

Image showing a cat in a Litter Box

You can usually still treat a case of generic diarrhea using homemade remedies, but if the frequency at which your cat goes to the toilet to discharge is very concerning, contact the vet immediately.

Long-Term Diarrhea

If the feline shows no sign of recovering from diarrhea after three days, and if he has to visit his litter box very often to discharge a very concerning amount of feces, the cause can usually be traced back to more than a simple allergic reaction to lactose.

cat-not-feeling-so-well laying down

The source of the problem can usually be found either in the cat’s small or large intestine. Symptoms of this diarrhea depend on its origin as well. If the diarrhea is originating from a disorder in the small intestine, the symptoms will be as follows:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness and weight loss
  • Unusual amount of feces
  • Very frequent visits to litter box
  • Black-colored feces

If the diarrhea can be traced back to a problem in the large intestine, the symptoms will be:

  • Vomiting
  • A smaller amount of feces
  • Frequent defecation
  • Mucus-like substance in the stool

This type of diarrhea in cats is usually caused by:

  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Dairy food intolerance
  • Change in diet, g., change of cat food
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Infection (bacterial/viral/parasitic)
  • Drugs and toxins
  • Fungus
  • Systemic illness

Acute Diarrhea

Lastly, this is the most severe type of diarrhea. Usually, the stool produced is very watery. Acute diarrhea can have fatal consequences in cats—especially younger or smaller ones—very quickly due to dehydration. You should immediately seek out a vet’s assistance if you suspect that your cat is suffering from this condition.

Cat getting a vaccine at the veterinary clinic.

Acute diarrhea may plague cats because of the following four reasons:

  • Osmotic imbalances occur as a result of high concentration of food molecules in the intestine. Too much water is drawn into the intestine, resulting in diarrhea.
  • When the intestine is exposed to bacteria or toxins, it starts to secrete more fluid. As a result, more water is released, causing a case of over secretions.
  • Intestinal exudation is the omission of blood fluids because of ulcers or other damages in the intestine. This exudation can be mild or severe.
  • Motility disorder refers to the condition of the intestine and its ability to move contents through. When the intestine contracts too quickly, fluids are not absorbed properly and are lost in the feces.

Diagnosing Diarrhea in Cats

You can diagnose your cat with diarrhea if you notice uncommon fecal activity. The things you need to pay attention to are:

  • Defecation Frequency: Adult cats normally defecate once or twice a day. Kittens can have bowel movements twice to thrice per day.
  • The Stool’s Appearance: Normally, the stool should be soft, brown in color, and there should not be any mucus in it. If the stool is bloody or black, your cat might be experiencing internal bleeding or a severe intestinal infection.

If the stool is softer and there’s more fluid in it, and the feline has to visit the litter box every 2 hours, then you should suspect diarrhea. In case you notice such a condition, don’t let the cat suffer or wait for him to recover on his own. The infection will only keep worsening. You need to bring your cat to the vet if a severe case of diarrhea persists for more than one day.

Image showing a cat in a litter box looking at the camera

The vet will examine your cat completely. The vet will expect you to give them a thorough briefing of what led to this situation. Be prepared to provide information about the symptoms that first led you to suspect that your cat is suffering from diarrhea as well as some incidents that might have caused the condition. The more thorough you can be, the better the vet will be able to diagnose the problem and handle it promptly.

Vets may also suggest blood tests that will analyze your cat’s blood chemical profile. Blood tests can reveal if the diarrhea is caused by infection in the kidney, liver, or pancreas. You may be asked to permit a urinal analysis as well.

a girl and her mother at the vet with their little orange cat

In some cases, x-rays may also be necessary. Your vet will suggest it if they suspect that the cat has swallowed an item which caused blockage or irritation. Other symptoms of cat diarrhea you should watch out for include:

  • Increased amount of feces
  • Watery feces
  • Fecal accidents that don’t usually occur
  • Vomiting
  • Blood/mucus in the feces
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Difficulty defecating

What Kind of Food Will Help Your Cat Recover From Diarrhea?

If diarrhea continues for more than a day and you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored and bloody stools or any other symptoms as mentioned above, you should contact and visit your vet at once. A cat suffering from diarrhea can be drained of water very quickly and can even die if not treated at the earliest.

After the vet has declared that the cat is stable enough to be in outpatient care, you need to monitor what he eats carefully so he can quickly recover from this ordeal. So what constitutes the best cat foods for diarrhea? From homemade food to commercial foods, there are many options. Just make sure that they are:

Easy to Digest

Even after your cat’s condition has stabilized, you should still give a bland diet to your cat. Examples include boiled rice, chicken, or any other vet-prescribed light food.

Image showing a cat eating rice from a yellow dish

Feed the cat frequently but in small amounts. This way, it will be easier for him to digest the food.

Don’t Contain Lactose

No matter how much cats enjoy the taste of milk and yogurt, adults cats are usually lactose intolerant. They can’t digest dairy products. The undigested products will then move to the large intestine, causing gas and a runny discharge.

Contain Fiber

Just like we need fibers to help with our digestion, cats also need them. Fiber helps firm up the cat’s stool.

Image showing a cat eating food from bowl in a house

Most cat foods for diarrhea automatically contain fiber, since this is such a pivotal factor in your cat’s recovery.

Not Raw

Keep raw food away from them. Even during the best of times, raw food will frequently mess with a house cat’s stomach. This is made worse if your cat is already suffering from diarrhea at the time since their stomach is already weak.

Nutritionally Balanced

While your cat is suffering from diarrhea, avoid giving them food with a large fat content. This goes even when your cat is healthy. More fat and less protein will only make them fat—it doesn’t improve their overall health. A nutritionally balanced diet for a cat is one that contains more protein and less fat, as well as less grain.

Homemade Recipes

Apart from buying cat food from the market, you can also prepare some easy-to-digest food that can help your cat recover from diarrhea at home. The food that we eat while we are down with diarrhea can usually be given to cats too.

Since we eat light food and prefer it without any spices while we’re suffering from diarrhea, do the same for your cat. Here are some quick and easy homemade recipes to help your cat recover from diarrhea:

Rice and Chicken Broth

First, you need to boil rice. Rice is light and easily digestible. Even the stricken feline’s weak stomach won’t fail to digest it.

Image showing a plate with rice and chicken food

To add flavor, boil some chicken in a separate bowl and add its broth to the rice. Cats love the taste, and it is also very healthy for them. I personally tried this with my cat. Both my cat and I were really happy with the results.

Baby Food

Another thing that you can feed your sick cat is the widely available baby food. Yes, you heard right. It is easy to digest and contains a lot of useful nutrients. But be very careful about the ingredients. Cats with diarrhea should not be fed wheat. Therefore, choose baby food made from rice. It will be similar to the boiled rice and easier to eat as well.

What to Do If Your Cat Has No Appetite

One time, when my cat was sick, he refused to eat or drink anything. Be very patient if your cat starts behaving this way and make sure that he drinks water at least. If he has not eaten anything for more than 24 hours and still refuses to take in anything, you should force feed him. This won’t be pleasant for both of you, but it is necessary unless you can get the vet to feed him via an intravenous line.

yellow sad sick cat lying at home

To force feed your cat, you first need to wrap him in a towel so that he cannot scratch you. After that fill a syringe with liquid food like baby food or water and eject it into its mouth sideways. Make sure to remove the needle part of the syringe, or you can hurt the poor thing. This syringe method can also be used to give medicine to your cat. All of this has been personally tried and tested. It won’t harm your cat in any way and will make things easier for you as well.

Wrap Up

Our feline’s suffering makes a painful sight, but you need to stay strong during these trying times. Keep a close eye on your cat to see if he has developed a fever or not. In case the cat is lethargic and is showing signs of fever, take him to a vet as soon as possible.

It is very important to provide fresh water in abundance. While taking care of their food, please don’t forget to take care of their cleanliness too. Even though cats are experts at keeping themselves clean, sometimes when they are sick and weak, they fail to maintain themselves. While they are down with diarrhea, it is up to you to take care of them so that they can quickly go back to being their healthy, cheerful selves.

Image showing a little cat eating from two bowls in house

Do you have any personal experience taking care of a cat that’s down with diarrhea? Do you have any suggestions about how to best feed a cat with diarrhea so they can recover their strength faster? Let us know all about it in the comments section below!

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.