What Causes Kitten Diarrhea

 In Cat Health, Cat Training Blog

Kitten diarrhea is quite common. This is because their digestive tract is still developing so they become more vulnerable to diet sensitivity. Their immune systems are also still developing, so they are susceptible to diarrhea-causing infections such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

There are two types of diarrhea as categorized by their onset. There is acute diarrhea that has a sudden onset of frequent liquid stools, and a chronic diarrhea which is characterized with on and off watery stools over a long period of time.

So what causes diarrhea in kittens? There are a number of possibilities, and they comprise:

  • Your kitten’s tummy is quite sensitive, and one common trigger that results in diarrhea is a sudden change in cat food. When switching cat food, make sure to do it gradually. Start by mixing 10% of new cat food with 90% of the old one and gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food until you have fully switched to new cat food. You can do this within a span of a week.

Overfeeding can also cause diarrhea. Make sure you know your kitten’s food limit. There is often a recommended serving suggestion in your pet food labels that you can follow accordingly. Alternately, diarrhea may also be caused by food allergies or intolerance.

Eliminating a few suspicious ingredients or elements in your cat’s diet might just do the trick. Your vet may also help to find out if your cat has allergies by conducting a few tests.



Another possibility for your cat’s diarrhea is the accidental ingestion of non-cat food items such as cat litter.

  • Little kittens have underdeveloped immune systems, which makes them easy targets for opportunistic microorganisms. These organisms may be bacteria, viruses, protozoa or parasite such as worms. Parasitic worms such as hookworms are common among kittens because they usually get them through their mothers, and their close contact, especially when nursing. Parasites may not pose such a big problem for adult cats, but they can mean life or death for young kittens. That is why it is advised that kittens be dewormed every two weeks until they reach twelve weeks, and then every three to six months thereafter.
  • Many new cat owners assume that they need to nourish their new kitten with readily available cow’s milk. The lactose in cow’s milk may not be well tolerated by many kittens since the milk they get from their mothers are vastly different. If you do wish to give your kitten milk, you can purchase cat milk from a pet store, or from some supermarkets.
  • Always keep toxic substances away from pet access. However, toxic substances such as pest repellent, detergent, and cleaners are not the only culprits in kitten poisoning. Simply eating what is not meant for them such as cat litter, plants, or medicines may have the same effect. If you suspect that your kitten has ingested something that has poisoned him, bring him immediately to the vet.
  • Oftentimes, if the problem is an obstruction, the diarrhea may be accompanied by vomiting. The obstruction or blockage may be located anywhere in your kitten’s intestinal tract, and the most common culprits are wool, cat litter, or bones. Avoid giving your pet kitten leftover bones as these may not only cause obstruction, but also perforation of intestines, which will lead to a bigger problem.
  • Fading Kitten Syndrome. This usually occurs around the first two weeks of life for a kitten who was born perfectly healthy. They just suddenly become very ill and die early. There is a host of factors that contribute to this, including birth defects, early infection, blood problems, or the environment. For kittens undergoing this condition, only aggressive medical intervention may save them.
  • A change in environment, a move to a new home, or an additional family member may all contribute to your kitten’s stress, thus causing diarrhea. This usually resolves as your kitten adjusts to the changes over time.
  • This may be due to a lot of factors, but inflammation of the intestinal or the stomach lining triggered by food or infection as mentioned above may cause diarrhea.
  • Just as many newborn animals, kittens also have a hard time managing their body temperatures, especially in extreme environments. If you live in a hot place or are experiencing hot weather, keep an eye out for your kitten as diarrhea may also be a symptom of heat stroke. If not corrected accordingly, your kitten may become dehydrated and die. Give your kitten wet foods and a lot of fluids during the summer to keep him cool.
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