Home Treatment of Diarrhea in Cats

Home Treatment of Diarrhea in Cats

By isak, January 22, 2015

Note: If your cat appears to be in distress or severely depressed, you should seek IMMEDIATE veterinary attention.

Episodes of mild diarrhea/soft stools lasting no more than a few days are not unusual. If your cat is eating and alert, there is no cause for alarm. Switch to a bland diet and feed a normal amount of food (see recipe below) divided into 3 to 4 small servings fed at intervals throughout the day. A general approach to the treatment of more severe watery diarrhea is to withhold food for 8 to 12 hours and then start small meals of the bland diet described below. If the diarrhea has resolved, it is likely to be due to stress, bacterial overgrowth (occurs with sudden diet changes) or dietary indiscretions, such as too many treats. If not, it may be a more serious problem, and we advise you to schedule an appointment for your cat/kitten with your vet and begin testing to rule out other causes. Remember, persistent or severe diarrhea requires veterinary attention.

The most common recommendation for dietary control of diarrhea in cats is to use a low fat, moderate fiber diet. There are diets such as Hill’s i/d available for this purpose. If you choose to try the i/d food, it can be purchased from your vet.

A home-made equivalent diet consists of chicken and rice [1 part chicken /2 parts rice ]
to which can be added a small amount (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) of wheat dextrin or psyllium (such as Benefiber or Metamucil TM). For kittens only, chicken baby food and rice cereal may be more convenient especially if one must force feed with a syringe. Alternate diets that can be tried are:

  • A mixture of two parts rice and one part boiled hamburger with fat removed.
  • Mix one and a half cups of cooked white rice or potato with one half cup of low fat cottage cheese. Some cats prefer pasta to rice
  • Live culture yogurt may help control diarrhea in cat . Dose range is from 2 to 5ml with each meal. This is an attempt to add beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.

Keep the cat / kitten on the bland diet for 1 – 2 days after the diarrhea clears up before starting to go back to the usual diet. Re-introducing regular food should be gradual, starting with 1/8 regular food mixed in the bland diet. On subsequent days the ratio should be 1?4, 1?2, then 3/4th regular food, before totally back to regular food.

Home remedy medications for diarrhea should be used with caution.

Young kittens with severe diarrhea should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Loperamide (Imodium AD TM) liquid can be used in cats for diarrhea. The usual dosage for cats is 0.1 to 0.2mg/kg every 8 to 12 hours. (1 kg = 2.2 pounds.) It is OK to try this for 1-2 days but if there is no response you should have the cat and especially kittens examined / rechecked . Since there is a small chance of causing excitable behavior in cats when using loperamide, this treatment must be carefully monitored.

Don’t cut off the water. Chronic diarrhea can quickly cause a pet to become dehydrated. Make sure that they have fresh clean water at all times. You may consider using a re-hydration fluid like Gatorade to replenish electrolytes.

source: Elizabethtown Animal Hospital


  1. Laura says:

    Many cats that drink out of plastic drinking fountains will end up with diarrhea. Too much bacteria builds up inside the fountain and causes problems. Those of you who use fountains be sure they are flushed good. You may have to use really hot water to be sure to kill bacteria.

  2. Michael Williams says:

    My 4 year old cat has a bad tooth and I started giving her caned food because the dry seemed to hurt her but now has bad diarrhea, I will get her tooth fixed next month but the Vet wants $150.00 for blood work to see if she can tolerate being put to sleep for the procedure.$125.00 for drugs to sedate her, $100.00, to remove tooth (the big upper feline or canine left tooth), and $175.00 for antibiotics and overnights stay. Is this normal price, it seems high. I will pay what is necessary because I’m 68 year’s and my cat is my whole life. I have to wait until next month because I’m on a fixed income. I will try the Amodium AD, but am a little confused about the amount to administer, the Amodium AD bottle says there is 1mg per 7.5 ml, how doI convert that to a dose for a 4 pound cat? Thank you for your advice and guidance.

    • isak says:

      Loperamide (Imodium AD TM) liquid can be used in cats for diarrhea. The usual dosage for cats is 0.1 to 0.2mg/kg every 8 to 12 hours. (1 kg = 2.2 pounds.)

      Because you have an estimate for the costs, have you shopped around to other vets to see if all charge the same? The price may be the norm, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to check around? And ask if they have a senior citizen discount?

      Also, February is Nationally Pet Dental Health Month. Maybe that will create a discount for your costs.

      Good luck to you both!

  3. Pezlyn says:

    My cat is 15 and was diagnosed with liver cancer August 2018 I was told at that time I should put him down…I went w my gut took him home he ate played and was fine his fur is matter because he stopped grooming himself but other than that he was doing great…….I opted for no treatment because he gets so stressed going to the vet Just recently he has diarrhea he has long fur and it gets pretty messy wondering if you have any ideas for cleaning him…Also I feed him jar baby chicken boiled chix and rice for the diarrhea is there anything else I can give him would the yogurt and pumpkin be safe for him? He’s had the dish area for one day so far.

    • isak says:

      Good for you not putting him down. I would have done the same. Yogurt will put good bacteria in his gut. This helps with diarrhea but plain canned pumpkin might work better. You’ll only need about a teaspoon on his food once or twice a day. The fiber in the pumpkin draws up the excess liquid to help make firmer stools.

      As for baby food, I keep Gerber #2 (called “Sitter”) Chicken & Gravy in my pantry for the cats. It’s just chicken and water, no onions or garlic. Also Fancy Feast Beef Pate seems to be a winner for a finicky eater at my house. Fancy Feast also makes these packets called Broth. My senior finicky eater doesn’t really care for the meat in the broths, but does love the broth.

      The boiled chicken and rice is good. Rice is slower to digest and tends to firm up stools.

      As for cleaning him up, you can brush him a bit everyday. If he has tangles, buy a “rake” at the pet store. Some have tongs where one is shorter than the next. You may need to look in the dog section for a small one of these. They also make rakes that are like razor blades that are meant to cut through knots. I use a combination of these two rakes. One of my cats only tolerates this for a few minutes at a time, so I do a few minutes at a time thinking anything is better than nothing. 🙂

      Did you mean cleaning his butt because of the diarrhea? Maybe you can trim the hair around his butt a bit to make cleaning easier. After that, good luck! Cats really seem to get fussy about having their butts cleaned. Maybe a super moist towel soaked with soap and water, followed by a second super moist towel with plain water, followed by a dry towel — all applied quickly.

      My best to your boy!

  4. dondie ferman says:

    my 10 year old girl cat got diarrhea for 2 days while my 6 year old boy cat still have normal stool. after 2 days my boy cat got diarrhea too. i went to vet clinic to buy medicine and they gave me Synulox. i gave them a quarter of a tablet once daily but its show little effect. the girl still have wet stool and the boy’s stool starts to get a little texture but sometimes it has wet stool. i dont understand how they got diarrhea since the girl was eating wet food while the boy is eating dry food.

    • isak says:

      Synulox is an antibiotic. It will affect a range of bacteria, but, on its own, does not treat diarrhea. Instead it attempts to treat the cause of the diarrhea. The diarrhea should pass on its own as the Synulox starts to work. However, you can add some plain yogurt (not flavored) or other probiotic to their food. Or, if you have it, plain canned pumpkin. The fiber in the pumpkin absorbs excess liquid in the digestive tract to normalize stools.

      If they both eat different food and they both have diarrhea, it makes sense that the cause may be some kind of bacterial infection.

  5. Mary Andersen says:

    Some good ideas here. I have a large kitty (20 lbs, but really large bones) who is about 5 years old who has had diarrhea for more than a year. Yours is the first blog to mention its happening after a food change. I have fed Science Diet to my cats for Years and happened to look at ingredients and tried a natural brand. Problem is also that cat scootches on the floor after using the box! I am always cleaning him and mopping floor, which is icky as a lifestyle. We had all of the tests, which were normal and his activity is good. I’ll try the imodium and yogurt and different canned foods to get him traded over. Currently on Royal Canin Rabbit.

    • isak says:

      Does you large kitty have long hair? Could that combined with soft stools be the reason for scooting? If so, is there any way to trim the hair around his butt so it doesn’t get so icky? Let us know how things go.

  6. Chris says:

    We had a sick rescued cat that we switched to canned, low carb, ie pate style food as soon as we got him. After diagnosis, I was treating him for diabetes, doing the tight regulation protocol for diabetes remission. He got a bit of diarrhea on the fourth day but it was gone the next day. He was off insulin by the sixth day and I maintained him that way using badic low carb canned food for the next six years of his life.

    Our cats have occasionally got diarrhea if I’ve switched foods suddenly. I’m sure there are some conditions and infections as well as not getting the necessary things from their mother if bottle fed.

    If anyone is interested in info on how to gradually transition cats to new foods as well as cats with chronic diarrhea, there’s a non commercial site by a veterinarian that our cat vet print out pages from for clients. Title page is Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition. Her cat, Robbie, had diarrhea since birth, until cat adbpvocates online asked her why she wasn’t feeding her cat better. It’s about stuff she didn’t learn in veterinary school. What she learned solved her cat’s digestive problems.

    Since all our cats have been eating differently since 2008, I’ve found they don’t get constipated, don’t get urinary blockages or cystitis, and none have become diabetic. Their urine output is much greater which is reportedly helping keep their urinary tract flushed out and “happy”. I checked their blood glucose and found it doesn’t fluctuate much so probably helps prevent their pancreas from wearing out. This is the way our AAFP cat vet recommends to feed, as well as the veterinary professionals who coached me through the diabetes remission process, as well as most cat rescues I know of.

    • isak says:

      Thanks for the great info. I added a link to the article by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, that you mentioned for others to read.

  7. Marina says:

    My 6 year old cat was doing his business outside for 4 years. About a month and a half ago he and my other cat got lock down after fights with some other cats. His poop was loose all this time. Now 3 days he has runny tummy. I changed his food last week from hairball control to urinary care. I can’t take him to vet right now as it’s middle of the month. Want to try imodium and hill’s i/d gastro intestinal. He went outside of litter box 3 times. Am I on the right track?

    • isak says:

      Loperamide (Imodium AD TM) liquid can be used in cats for diarrhea. The usual dosage for cats is 0.1 to 0.2mg/kg every 8 to 12 hours. However, if you do not see a change in a day or two, he should be checked out by your vet.

      You do want to locate the source of the diarrhea. Perhaps it has always been loose? Has he been de-wormed? That could be reason for the loose stools and worms may not always be present in his stools.

      Also, if you change his food, it is recommended that you do it gradually. Otherwise the change can cause loose stools, too.

  8. Ellen Wallace says:

    I would not suggest giving your cat Imodium. I’ve treated all my cats that had diarrhea. One of them has been suffering for 3 days. Hasn’t went to the bathroom. His organs have slowly shut down. He’s dying right now. Just a heads up. It doesn’t work on all cats

    • isak says:

      It sounds like there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. He may have a blockage. He should se a vet immediately as this could be a treatable condition. Are your other cats also experiencing diarrhea?

  9. Joanne McGrath says:

    My 13-year-old cat is a Manx cross with a 1-inch tail who has had loose stools for her whole life. Various vets have had no suggestions; one told me that it is a condition common to Manx cats due to a spinal and/or neurological deformity. Recently, her diarrhea has become worse; she is sometimes incontinent and cries from pain when she defecates. Right now I have her in a cage and have tried two medications separately: the herb marshmallow (this worked with another cat that had been poisoned), and an herbal mixture called BM Tone Up from holistic vets at Pet Well Being. Neither is currently working, although at first I thought I saw improvement from the latter. Can I safely try Immodium and a probiotic yogurt with her? She was recently tested and negative for worms. I am lost and cannot find any vet who has the faintest idea how to help her. Please reply. Joanne McGrath.

    • isak says:

      Maybe she has a hypersensitive digestive tract? Have you tried changing her food?

      Yes, Loperamide (Imodium AD TM) liquid can be used in cats for diarrhea. The usual dosage for cats is 0.1 to 0.2mg/kg every 8 to 12 hours. The cry of pain is concerning. Has your vet ruled out any kind of blockage — even partial — that may be causing her to be unable to completely defecate? Is the pain also associated with urinating? If so, does she have a urinary infection or even a blockage (though females don’t usually get blockages)? But UTIs are painful.

      You can purchase test strips to check the pH of her urine at home. Cats need an acidic urine for urinary tract health. Although the higher range may vary under certain circumstances, the expert consensus seems to be from 6.0 to 6.5. (The lower the pH, the more acidic the urine.) A pH above this range can lead the growth of struvites (magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals)

      You might try some plain canned pumpkin in her food. The fiber in it generally absorbs excess liquid in the digestive tract. And plain yogurt or other probiotic will certainly not hurt. The beneficial bacteria in it may be what she needs.

      Incontinence can occur for several reasons, age included. Here’s a list of possible reasons.

  10. Becca says:

    I have a question.. I have 2, 2 month old kittens. My vet said to use imodium for them for a few days. But the only imodium i have is mint flavored. Is it safe to give them that?

  11. Melissa Jones-Carigo says:

    Hi, I have 1 out of 4 soon to be 7 month old kittens that has recently started having watery diarrhea that drips as he walks and is even explosive at times. The only Loperamide Hydrochloride I have are 2 mg tablets, which I crushed, then added about 10-12 ml of warm water to dissolve the powder. The only way to give to my kitten was with a child’s medicine 10 ml syringe. I carefully wrapped him in a towel then slowly pushed a small amount into his mouth at a time. I did the same thing on Tuesday, meaning to do it yesterday, but…
    Anyways, none of my other cats are sick. I usually feed them Kit & Kaboodle Essentials dry cat food but last bag was bought by my mom & she bought a bag of 9 lives, which they didn’t care too much for, but they ate it. Now about a week after going back to the K&K, Buddy is having the diarrhea. The 1st night I even put a newborn diaper on him for a couple hours after giving him the Loperamide Hydrochloride. He pooped in it, but it wasn’t diarrhea. Now 30 minutes after his dose, he’s playing & jumping around with the others, he used the litter box, was runny, but seemed more solid. When I was feeding them the 9 lives, I was mixing it with some canned tuna or wet cat food(if I had it) as well as white rice. Could this be because I’ve stopped mixing in the white rice?
    I saw in other comments about canned pumpkin, should I get some & try? Also the yogurt, do mean like a plain flavored Yoplait yogurt? On the yogurt & pumpkin, how much at a time would I give him & how often?

    • isak says:

      Rice is slower to digest and can create firmer stools, but for him to have diarrhea that leaks from him and is sometimes even explosive seems like something other than the rice is going on. Could he possibly have intestinal parasites that are causing the diarrhea? If so, he would need to be de-wormed else the problem will continue.

      The canned pumpkin has fiber in it that absorbs excess moisture in the digestive tract, so it creates a firmer stool. Surprisingly, it also works for constipation by softening stools. I call it the “great equalizer.” It generally starts working in a few hours, but may take a few doses to get where you want to be. Give him about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon with each meal (or twice a day). Make sure it is plain canned pumpkin with no spices, etc.

      The yogurt is the plain kind with NO flavorings as the flavorings/fruit contain sugar. He can have about 1/4 teaspoon with his meals (or twice a day). You can even mix the yogurt and pumpkin together. There is no exact measure for the pumpkin or the yogurt, so it won’t hurt if you give a little extra.

      So how did you get a diaper on such a small kitten? He must have been all diaper. 🙂

  12. Gurlie says:

    My cat has been on broad spectrum antibiotics for 3 days. He had soft stool today after a normal BM. I bough probiotic Purina when meds were prescribed.hus appetite isn’t the greatest though he does eat some dry. I feed him a small portion of wet food 4x a day, he has a water fountain and tap running as well. He’s not a human food lover(but for fresh Asiago… Don’t ask). Feeding him pumpkin mash will be a waste of Time.I will try poaching chicken breast with brown rice add probiotic powder to it. I don’t want diarrhea to become a serious problem. OF Course I will call his vet should this increase as he saw him sat, and can best treat it. I was curious about lowest dose of immodium.George US six and in good health as a rule but appetite wanes when he’s not a happy camper. That’s why the wet. I don’t want him not eating and become weak and sicker.
    Thanks for your blogg
    Much appreciated ?

    • isak says:

      Oral antibiotics tend to clean all bacteria from the digestive system which could be the reason for the soft stool. The probiotic will add good bacteria into his system and hopefully stem the soft stool. The magic of pumpkin is that it equalizes liquid in the digestive tract so it works for diarrhea AND constipation to create a normal stool. Maybe you can sneak some in via an oral syringe? Gerber’s Chicken and Gravy baby food #2 (I think they call it “Sitter” now) can be mixed with it as a stand-alone offering. It contains just chicken and water. If those don’t help, Immodium may work.

  13. Steph says:

    I thought pumpkin made them have a bowel movement… if my 2 pd kitten has diarrhea and has been dewormed should I give it some pumpkin

  14. mary says:

    i’d be leery of giving them any medications without consulting the vet first since cats are very sensitive. but i’ve given my cat yogurt when he gets these bouts and it really helps. it’s not an instant cure but its natural and gentle. i use a eyedropper to put it in his mouth.

  15. Pat in CO says:

    Can Benefiber be added to the water dish? Super Picky cat has had runny stools since being gravely ill 3 months ago. He’s very perky and active and eats boiled chicken as a snack and bland dry food.

    • isak says:

      Yes it can be added to his water dish, but keep an eye on the water dish as you may have to clean it more often. Any chance he might lick some plain canned pumpkin? That would help with his stools. Did he have runny stools before he got so sick? Has he been dewormed recently? I’m just wondering what the source for the runny stools is.

  16. Bee says:

    This was really helpful — thank you! My two suddenly got the runs when I gave them new food. Both are peppy and as full of energy as always. Just frequent trips to the litter box. Pumpkin helped solidify things on the first day, but then they both called a pumpkin strike and the runs are back. I’ll try this dosage — with caution as you suggest.

  17. Madeline says:

    My Nila is 17 years old…She has been eating the same diet for the last five years. She has been having foul loose stools for a week now. She acts normal and there has been no change in her catitude. I intend to try your chicken/rice formula. Should any seasonings be added??

    • isak says:

      17, eh? That’s wonderful!

      No to the seasonings because you want the food to be bland. Rice is slower to digest, so it should add some bulk to her stool. The chicken provides needed protein. You can try adding a bit of plain pumpkin for fiber. This will also help her stool firm up.

  18. C. Dunn says:

    Your calculations are WAY off: Dosage is 0.1-0.2 mg PER 2.2 pounds ( 1 KG).

    • isak says:

      I think that’s what we said, but there was a sentence in there that was maybe confusing, so we deleted it. Thanks for your input.

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