Dietary Causes of Feline Diarrhea

Feline diarrhea is one of the least favorite parts of owning a cat. Many things can upset a cat's stomach, including his or her diet.

Kitten Diarrhea

Kitten diarrhea can develop easily, as a young cat's stomach is very sensitive. One of the primary dietary causes of diarrhea in kittens is overfeeding. However, if a kitten's food is being moderated, an ingredient in the cat food may be to blame. Kittens are sensitive to foods that are high in fat or dairy products, especially in foods meant for human consumption. Kittens may also be allergic to food with corn, soy or wheat.

A sudden change in cat food brands or types may also be to blame if a kitten develops diarrhea. This is especially true when transitioning from kitten chow to food for older cats. It is easier on a kitten's gastrointestinal system if a new food is introduced a little at a time. Increase the ratio of new food to the food the kitten is already eating over the course of a few days.

Dietary Causes of Cat Diarrhea

Like kittens, adult cats can have food allergies. Cat food intolerances or food allergies come from dairy products, spicy foods, preservatives, gluten, food additives or flavoring ingredients. It is important to keep in mind that most cats and kittens are lactose intolerant, but dairy substitutes are available in pet stores that are easier to digest.

If food allergies are a problem for a cat, use a hypoallergenic commercial cat food or make homemade cat food. Most veterinarians can provide recipes for homemade pet food or can tell you where they can be found. Should there be no incidents of diarrhea after several weeks of this new diet, food items can be reintroduced, one at a time, to figure out what's causing the stomach upset.

Cats can get diarrhea from eating unwashed foods. Unwashed foods can carry bacteria, parasites or other viruses.

A diet that is too high in fat can cause colitis (inflammation of the intestinal lining) and diarrhea. Instead, try a low fat diet that has a balanced level of proteins and carbohydrates.

Adult cats can also develop diarrhea as a result of overeating, like kittens. One can tell if this may be the cause of a cat's diarrhea if the stool is large, bulky and unformed. Instead of feeding a cat one large meal a day, give the cat three smaller meals throughout the day.

If traveling, unfamiliar water can cause a cat's stomach to become upset. This can also happen if a cat drinks water that is dirty. If the tap water at your home is compromised or the cat is a traveling companion, give the cat bottled water to drink.

Mild diarrhea in cats can be treated at home by limiting the amount of food the cat can eat, and making sure there is plenty of water to drink. Diarrhea lasting for more than 24 hours can be dangerous to a cat. When this happens, take the cat to the veterinarian's office along with a stool sample.