What To Do If Your New Kitten Has Diarrhea

Does your kitten have diarrhea? While this can be common, it can also be a sign of something more serious. Here's what you need to know about kitten diarrhea.

Bridget Reed

Updated September 01, 2022 • Published May 10, 2022

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What To Do If Your New Kitten Has Diarrhea

As a pet parent of a new kitten, any change in behavior or health status can cause a great deal of stress. If you notice that your kitten has diarrhea, you might be concerned that something is wrong and wonder if they need medical attention.

There are a variety of things that can cause your new kitten to have diarrhea. The good news is that some of them are simply just a result of being in an entirely new environment. However, it’s also possible that the cause of your new kitten's diarrhea requires the attention of a vet. 

Learn what could be causing your kitten's diarrhea, how you can provide them with relief, and when you should bring them to the vet.

What causes kitten diarrhea?

There are several potential causes of kitten diarrhea. These can include: food allergies or intolerances, transitioning to new food too rapidly, parasites, stress, and various medical conditions.

The causes of new kitten diarrhea typically fall into two categories: acute and chronic. It's important to understand how long your kitten has been experiencing GI upset and the severity of the diarrhea—this can help your veterinarian understand the cause.

Causes of acute diarrhea in kittens

Young kittens with temporary cases of diarrhea fall into the acute category. This type of diarrhea can typically be treated through a change in diet, reduction in environmental stressors, or medication.

Parasites

According to Pawp veterinarian Dr. Slyvalyn Hammond, there is one common cause of diarrhea in young kittens—intestinal parasites.

“Intestinal parasites are the most common cause of diarrhea in kittens," says Dr. Hammond. "Have your veterinarian check a stool sample to make sure your new kitten doesn’t have any worms in their gut."

It's important to get your new kitten on preventative medication and contact a vet if you notice worms in your kitten's stool.

Food allergies and intolerances

Diarrhea can be a sign that your new kitten's diet needs to be changed.

If your kitten has diarrhea or is vomiting after they eat, it can indicate that their system is not agreeing with a particular ingredient. Your vet can help you choose appropriate food for your kitten to ensure they're getting all of the nutrients they need without causing GI upset.

Diarrhea can also be caused by your kitten consuming a non-food item.

New foods

If you try giving your kitten new food, you might find that they have diarrhea as a result.

It's important to be mindful about integrating new food into their diet. It's always best to start by giving your kitten a little bit of the food at first and see how they react to it. If they tolerate it well, slowly start to swap the old food out with the new food. Making this transition too quickly can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and vomiting.

Stress

Another reason why your new cat might be experiencing a bout of diarrhea is due to stress. For example, if you bring your kitten to the clinic and notice they're experiencing diarrhea when they return home, this could be attributed to stress.

You also might notice that your kitten has looser feces while they're adjusting to life at their new home or a new litter box situation

This is often to be expected—but if it continues, it's wise to reach out to a vet. This will help you ensure that there's not an underlying condition present.

Bacterial or viral infection

Your kitten may also have a bacterial or viral infection that's causing the diarrhea. If this is the case, you may also notice abdominal pain, loss of appetite, watery or bile-streaked diarrhea, and vomiting.

Only a veterinarian will be able to diagnose a bacterial or viral infection in your kitten, so it's important to seek guidance from a medical professional to get your feline friend back on track.

Causes of chronic diarrhea in kittens

If your kitten has been experiencing diarrhea for weeks or even months, this could be a sign of a more serious, chronic condition. You should seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

These include but are not limited to: Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), lymphoma, an autoimmune disorder, or disease of the kidney, liver, or intestines.

How can I treat my kitten’s diarrhea?

If your new kitten has diarrhea, you might be curious about what you can do to help. While some diarrhea is certainly treatable at home, it’s best to get a professional’s opinion on your kitten's health status.

In addition to speaking to a vet about your kitten's diarrhea, you can also take the following steps.

Monitor them

Make sure that you're monitoring your kitten closely. If their symptoms get rapidly worse or if you notice that they have other ailments, you need to act quickly. Talk to a trusted veterinarian to get to the bottom of what's causing their problem. 

Give them water

Make sure that your kitten has access to plenty of water when they're experiencing diarrhea. Your kitten could potentially experience dehydration due to diarrhea, and this could cause other problems.

Reduce stressors

If you feel that stress is the reason that your cat is experiencing diarrhea, you can take steps to help reduce potential stressors in their environment.

Make sure they have enough stimulation and comfortable places to sleep and play. Try buying a cat tree, frequently change out toys, and ensure your kitten is properly socialized with both humans and other pets in the household. You can also reach out to a vet to learn more about if using pheromones could potentially help reduce your kitten's stress levels. 

Give them a supplement

A veterinarian may suggest giving your kitten a probiotic supplement. These are specially formulated to promote normal intestinal health and balance and can be easily integrated into your kitten's diet.

When should I take my kitten to the vet?

The most important thing to keep in mind when you have a kitten is that there’s never a wrong time to reach out to a vet. Not only will this provide you with peace of mind, but it will also help catch any potential problems quickly. 

As a general rule of thumb, if diarrhea persists for longer than a day, you should bring your new kitten to the vet. If your pet is demonstrating other symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or vomiting, it’s absolutely necessary that a vet sees them sooner than later.

If you're concerned about your kitten’s diarrhea, you can always reach out to Pawp and our team of trained and trusted veterinarians.

SOURCES: 

Cat Research | The Pheromone Site | Research | Animal Welfare | TTU 

Choosing the best diet for your kitten | Texas A & M  

Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats | Cornell  

Diarrhea | Cornell  

Food Allergies | Cornell 

How do I switch my pet's food? | Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School

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