Reasons why cats might have loose stools

Updated February 21, 2017

Loose stools, or diarrhoea, can occur in cats for a variety of reasons. Diarrhoea is a symptom for a variety of issues, from an intestinal blockage to stress. Your veterinarian can run a number of tests to determine the cause of the diarrhoea. Diet changes and medication are some of the treatments your veterinarian may prescribe.


Diarrhoea is often caused by the food your cat has eaten. Many owners give their cats milk, but most cats cannot easily digest it and develop loose stools. Your cat may also have problems digesting certain ingredients in dry or canned cat foods and may even develop a sensitivity or allergy over time. Many cats cannot tolerate "people" food and will develop diarrhoea if they eat it, so be cautious about sharing your food with your pet. If your cat is allowed to roam outside, it may also be eating garbage or foods given by neighbours, all of which can cause stomach upset and loose stools.

Intestinal Parasites and Worms

Intestinal parasites can also cause feline diarrhoea. Giardia is one type of parasite your cat can come in contact with by drinking old, standing water outside your house that contains these parasites.

According to, worms, such as tapeworms and hookworms, can also cause diarrhoea. Some varieties of intestinal worms can be seen by the naked eye, but they are usually hard to spot. If your cat has diarrhoea, take a sample of its stool to your veterinarian who can check for worms and parasites through a microscope.

Intestinal Blockages

Diarrhoea, especially if it is watery, may be a sign of an intestinal blockage, according to Many cats eat fabric, yarn, plants, and other non-consumables. This behaviour is known as Pica and can be dangerous for your pet. If it eats nonfood items, resulting blockages can prevent stool from leaving the body.


If your cat goes outdoors it may come in contact with toxins that cause loose stools. Pesticides sprayed on plants can cause problems, as can oil and other toxins which your cat may inadvertently drink. Some people use poisons around their houses to prevent rats and other animals from entering it. These poisons can cause diarrhoea and much more severe symptoms.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Diarrhoea is a major symptom of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Your veterinarian may take urine, fecal and blood tests to determine if your cat has IBD. A intestinal lining biopsy may be taken. While this disease is not usually curable, symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhoea, can usually be controlled through diet and medication.


Diarrhoea can be a symptom of a serious illness, including kidney failure, cancer or liver disease. Always check with your veterinarian if your cat has persistent diarrhoea or shows signs of other symptoms, including change in behaviour and lethargy.


According to, stress can also cause loose stools. Your cat may become anxious when you have visitors in your home, are away for long periods of time or are planning a big trip. Moving and other life changes can also be very stressful on your pets. Travelling or staying at a kennel can also cause stress and loose stools.

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About the Author

Based in the southeastern United States, Annabelle Brown began writing in 2000. She specializes in health, nutrition, education and pets. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Virginia Tech and is pursuing a Master of Science in English from Radford University and a Master of Education at Wright State University.