Vomiting and Diarrhoea



The normal faeces (stools) that a cat passes are brown in colour and well formed. If a cat is suffering from diarrhoea, the faecal consistency changes to become soft, liquid, or even watery. The colour may also change to become lighter or darker than normal.

In some cases, other signs may be observed - there may be fresh blood or mucus in the faeces, the cat may be producing a greater volume of faeces than normal, and there may be an increased frequency of defecation and/or straining to pass faeces. Some cats will also develop vomiting along with their diarrhoea, and perhaps other signs such as loss of appetite and lethargy.

Many cases of diarrhoea are mild, short-lived (last for only a few days) and spontaneously resolve. In many of these cases a specific underlying disease is never diagnosed and cats may get better by themselves or respond to symptomatic and supportive treatment. In other cases, especially where the diarrhoea is severe or prolonged, investigations may need to be done to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Initial management at home

In cases of acute (sudden and recent onset) diarrhoea, simply withholding food for a short period (24 hours) may help things to settle down. Unless otherwise indicated though, a cat should not be deprived of food for longer than 24 hours as this could be detrimental.

  • Stop their usual balanced diet – rest the gut. Leave only tap water or rice water, even if your cat does not usually drink.
  • Above all, absolutely no milk.
  • When resuming feeding a highly digestible diet is often very helpful in managing diarrhoea irrespective of the underlying cause. A home-cooked diet of chicken or fish with a little white rice is suitable in the short-term, but for longer-term management a more balanced diet is preferable. When you do let them have a bit of food, do not serve it straight from the fridge - warm it up in the microwave oven or in a saucepan, or leave it to reach room temperature.

If diarrhoea persists for more than 24 hours in a young kitten please seek advice from the practice. In older cats advice should be sought if diarrhoea continues for 48 hours, or if your cat becomes lethargic or unwell. If there is any blood in the diarrhoea please contact us for an appointment.


There are occasions when vomiting in a cat can be ‘normal’.

  • Grass that it has just eaten? Perfectly normal.
  • A bit of bile at day-break? - No problem.
  • The meal it has just taken? - It may eat it up again straight away. Utterly disgusting, but that´s how it is!

If, however, the vomiting is accompanied by diarrhoea, or your cat is lifeless and vomiting frequently this may indicate a serious problem. Please contact us for advice and an appointment.

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