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Cat Diarrhea and Vomiting: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Why Is My Cat Having Diarrhea and Throwing Up?

Why Is My Cat Having Diarrhea and Throwing Up

Cat diarrhea and vomiting can be caused by many issues. Here are some of the possible causes:

  • Diet Changes. Sudden dietary changes can result in an upset stomach. When changing the cat’s food, the transition should be gradual to avoid cat diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Dietary Indiscretions. Although more common in dogs, dietary indiscretions are possible in cats, too, and include eating non-edible items, spoiled food, and table scraps.
  • Food Allergies. Food allergies and intolerances are common causes of an upset stomach – cat diarrhea and vomiting. Cats can be sensitive to meat, dairy, and grains.
  • Foreign Bodies. If the cat eats a foreign object, it may get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract and trigger cat diarrhea and vomiting, followed by bloody diarrhea or constipation.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disease is a specific type of GI tract inflammation with an unknown cause that results in chronic vomiting and cat diarrhea.
  • Toxin Ingestion. If a cat eats a toxic substance, it will show vomiting and diarrhea. Common toxins for cats are found in human foods, medications, plants, and household chemicals.
  • Intestinal Parasites. Worms (roundworms) and protozoa (Giardia, Tritrichomonas) are also possible causes of vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Bacterial Infections. Upset stomach can be due to bacterial infections. Common bacteria in the digestive system are Salmonella and Campylobacter.
  • Viral Infections. Viruses such as coronavirus, feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and feline infectious virus (FIV) cause complex clinical manifestations, including vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Endocrine Conditions. The underlying cause of vomiting and diarrhea can be an endocrine issue such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus.
  • Systemic Diseases. Certain systemic conditions such as liver disease and kidney disease can result in vomiting and diarrhea. The same can be caused by chronic pancreatitis.
  • GI Tract Tumors. Tumors in the cat’s gastrointestinal cause digestive issues, including diarrhea and vomiting. Common GI tract tumors are lymphoma and adenocarcinoma.
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What Are Some of the Symptoms of Severe Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats?

Signs and symptoms of severe cat diarrhea and vomiting include:

  • Loss of Appetite. One of the first signs and symptoms of digestive upset is loss of appetite. Even voracious eaters stop eating when their stomach and intestines are irritated and hurting.
  • Drooling. Drooling or excess salivation typically occurs before a cat vomits and is one of the signs of nausea.
  • Dehydration. Cats losing fluids via vomiting and diarrhea are likely to become dehydrated. In most cases, they refuse to drink water which will make the dehydration issue even worse.
  • Lethargy. Described as disinterest in everyday activities, lethargy accompanied almost all diseases and health issues in cats.
  • Weight Loss. Chronic vomiting and diarrhea result in weight loss. The lack of appetite also contributes to the issue. However, weight changes are linked with long and chronic cases.

What Should I Do if My Cat is Throwing Up and Has Diarrhea?

There are several over-the-counter supplements that can be used for managing cat diarrhea and vomiting.

Honest Paws Pre + Probiotics for Dogs. This powdered and chicken-flavored supplement checks all boxes for quality, safety, and efficacy. It is made in the USA in a GMP-certified facility with premium-quality and globally sourced ingredients. The powder is easy to use and comes in individually packed and pre-dosed sachets. 

Each sachet contains 5 billion CFUs (coming from different beneficial bacteria), prebiotics, and spinach leaf extract. The product maintains a healthy gut, supports immune health, and provides seasonal allergy relief.   

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Rx Vitamins Rx Clay Powder for Pets – Anti Gas & Anti Diarrhea for Dogs & Cats. The hypoallergenic, vegetarian formula of this anti-diarrheal medication is made into a powder for easy use. It is formulated to help relieve bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

The clay in this product absorbs excess moisture within the digestive system to improve stool quality and regulate water levels. It is safe for use in both cats and dogs older than 12 weeks and is free from heavy metals, and is sterilized for your cat’s safety.

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Nutri-Vet Anti-Diarrhea Liquid for Cats. This orally given medication is made with kaolin and pectin for great anti-diarrheal properties. Kaolin helps to absorb excess moisture in the digestive tract and increases the bulk of stools to slow down its passage to the litter box.

The pectin provides a protective coating to irritated gastrointestinal membranes. It is made in the USA and carries the National Animal Supplement Council’s seal of quality.

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HomeoPet Feline Digestive Upsets, Natural Digestive Supplement for Cats. Formulated to provide relief from minor digestive problems, this product is easy to use and safe to be given daily. It is made with natural ingredients to be safe for consumption and effective on a cat’s digestive ailments.

It is gentle enough for cats of all ages experiencing digestive distress due to environmental changes or illness. A veterinarian created this product to bring high-quality and affordable treatments.

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Jackson Galaxy Cat Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes. This probiotic supplement is safe daily and includes pancreas enzymes to help with vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and bloat. Each ingredient is sourced from the USA, and the formula uses no grain, corn, or dyes.

It is made with real chicken for a taste cats will love. It is not cooked or heated in the production process, so 100% of the probiotic potency is left intact when your cat consumes them.

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PetUltimates Probiotics for Cats. Unlike other products with only 100 million CFUs of probiotics per serving, this product has over 5 billion CFUs. It is made in the USA without using sugar, grain maltodextrins, or animal digest to be as safe and effective as possible.

With twenty species of bacteria, this probiotic blend has been carefully custom formulated to suit the needs of any cat. The easy-to-serve powder can be added to any dry or wet cat food and can be administered daily for best results.

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When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet for Diarrhea and Vomiting?

When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet for Diarrhea and Vomiting

If the symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, it is time to take your cat to the vet. However, if you notice blood in your cat’s stool or vomit or see they are disoriented, lethargic, or have a loss of appetite, you should seek immediate veterinary care.

Cat diarrhea and vomiting accompanied by additional signs and symptoms can be signs of a more severe and potentially life-threatening condition.

When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet for Diarrhea?

Generally speaking, pet owners should worry about gastroenteritis if the condition persists for more than 24-48 hours after treatment.

If it continues after the 48-hour window, it is best to contact your DVM and have diagnostic tests run to prevent further complications. A vet will be able to pinpoint abnormalities and treat them before they cause real damage to your pet’s health.

What Is the Treatment for Cat Diarrhea and Vomiting?

The treatment for cat diarrhea and vomiting depends on what triggered the issues in the first place. In general, possible therapies would include:

  • Diet Changes. Vets may consider a change in diet to be the best route to treat gastroenteritis. They may recommend new food or a bland diet for the short term to allow the cat to heal and recover properly.
  • Fluid Therapy. In cases of severe dehydration and electrolyte disbalances, the veterinarian will give intravenous fluids to compensate for the losses sustained with the vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Antibiotics. These may be administered if the clinical signs suggest bacterial infection. They are obtained exclusively through a veterinary prescription and used following the vet’s instructions.

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Recover from Diarrhea and Vomiting?

The time necessary for recovering from cat diarrhea and vomiting depends on the underlying cause and some additional factors such as:

  • Age. Generally speaking, healthy adult-aged cats will recover the fastest. Kittens have not developed an immune system robust enough to recover quickly on their own, and older cats are more likely to have a compromised immune system.
  • Activity Levels. More active cats are generally healthier cats. If a cat is more active, it is likely to recover sooner than a lazier, older, or overweight cat.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions. If a cat is already recovering from an illness or is on medication for controlling an illness, then the cat’s body is already being taxed. Adding more medication can overwhelm the body’s systems and delay recovery from gastroenteritis. Furthermore, if a cat is overweight or obese, it will likely take longer to recover than a cat who is a healthy weight.

How do I Prevent Cat Vomiting and Diarrhea?

There are numerous ways you can prevent cat diarrhea and vomiting. Here are simple and helpful tips: