Diarrhea in kittens is not normal, certainly not cute, and is usually an indication of an underlying problem. You may find diarrhea in their litter box, around the house, or stuck to their bodies. Loose, liquidy stool can cause a kitten to become dehydrated if it persists. When left untreated, the root cause can quickly become serious, and even life-threatening to your precious little ball of fur. In some cases, a veterinarian will be able to help by performing a fecal exam that can pinpoint the cause of your kitten’s diarrhea. We can also learn what to give a kitten with diarrhea for some causes that can be treated at home.
Kitten Diarrhea Causes
Roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms are some of the most common parasites that affect cats and kittens. Worms are so common, that almost every cat will contract them at least once. Roundworms are the most frequently occurring and can be passed from the mother cat to her kittens through her milk. Diarrhea and bad gas is a sign that your kitten may be infested. Protozoa, like Coccidia and Giardia, can also cause your kitten to have mucousy or frothy diarrhea. When left untreated, these parasites can literally sap the life from your kitten as they feed off of their nutrients. That is not a horror show we do not want to see!
Changes in Diet
Some kittens have an extra sensitive stomach. Any change in their diet can cause your kitten to get diarrhea. This may occur when they are weaning and just beginning to eat new, solid food. Any medications they take may cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and bad gas in kittens. Gas can also occur when cats eat dairy products, spoiled food, eat too fast, or have a diet that is high in wheat, corn, soybeans, or fiber. Diarrhea that is caused by your kitten’s diet changes should only be temporary. If they persist, then there is likely another problem.
Like many baby animals, including humans, kittens experiment with lots of things by putting them in their mouths. Your home almost certainly contains things that can be poisonous to kittens and cats. Some of these can include household cleaners, essential oils, many human foods, house plants like spider plants and lillies, flea and tick products, as well as lawn and garden products. These items can cause diarrhea in kittens, and may even lead to death. You may have to do some ‘baby-proofing’ for your kitten until they grow out of the stage where everything is a possible snack.
Digestive Disorders or Diseases
Kittens are susceptible to health disorders and diseases. A lack of a strong immune system means they are more susceptible to disease and sickness than adult cats. A wide variety of these complications can also be causes of diarrhea in kittens.
What to Give a Kitten with Diarrhea
When it comes to internal parasites, some worm infestations can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications. These medications will usually be treated for specific types of worms, like roundworms and hookworms, and can be purchased at pet supply stores. If you see the signs for these worms and the treatment alleviates the diarrhea symptoms, your kitten should be good to go and you can follow up with a second dose in two weeks. Keeping your kitten flea free with flea prevention, or baths in blue Dawn dish soap if they are too young for flea prevention, will also help keep parasites at bay.
When your kitten is on medications, like antibiotics, adding probiotics to their diet can help replace the good bacteria needed for optimal intestinal health. When you decide to change the foods they are eating, it is always a good idea to gradually switch over with mixtures of each so you don’t shock the kitten’s system and cause diarrhea.
When the diarrhea persists, it is time to go to your vet for a fecal exam. The vet will be able to pinpoint the possible causes and help your kitten find relief before things progress into a bad situation. Your vet will know what is best to give your kitten to relieve diarrhea and bad gas symptoms, and hopefully solve the root cause altogether.