What should you do if your cat has diarrhea?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – my cat has diarrhea – just started this morning but I noticed he had a very runny (and stinky) bowel movement in the litter box and now he is having another one. When should I worry? What should I do?

Lexi M. Nashville, KY


Hi – thanks for your email Lexi. Diarrhea is a relatively common symptom in cats and a common question we get is what do you do if your cat has diarrhea?

Diarrhea is defined as frequent loose or runny bowel movements (stools). They can vary from watery to pudding like in consistency. Their color can also vary from light brown, yellow, dark brown, black or bloody tinged. The frequency can vary from just more than normally to constant straining. Some indoor cats may have such urgency, they can’t make it to the litterbox in time and have an “accident’ outside of the box.

Some cats may have one or two loose stools and it may not be a problem. If a cat has one or two loose stools but is still eating, drinking and seems playful – then I am not very worried. Watch for any additional signs.

These are the situations in a cat with diarrhea that may be a sign of something more serious: A cat that in addition to the diarrhea also,