What Can You Give A Cat For An Upset Stomach?

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Most cats at some point in their lives will have an upset tummy. This might involve vomiting, diarrhea, or a bit of both. It can make our feline friends feel under the weather and not their usual happy, energetic selves.

Mild upset tummies will resolve in a day or two but other cases might need some treatment at home or from a vet. We’ll discuss everything that you need to know about upset stomachs and what you can give your cat for them at home.

Symptoms Of An Upset Stomach In Your Cat

Cats are very brave pets and often try to hide signs of illness.

Cats are very brave pets and often try to hide signs of illness. This is because in the wild illness would have been a sign of weakness and would have made them vulnerable to other cats and animals. Pet cats still do this and it can make it difficult to know if our cat is unwell.

However, in cases of an upset stomach, the symptoms should be easy to spot. You might notice vomit around the house/garden and diarrhea in the litter box. If your cat toilets outside, this can be more difficult to spot and you need to pay close attention to the garden and other symptoms that they might be displaying.

Cats that are vomiting, having diarrhea, or both, can display other symptoms too. If they’re feeling sick it’s likely that their appetite will be reduced and you might see signs of nausea which include; lip licking, drooling, flinching at the food bowl (the smell makes them feel sick) or eating grass in some cases (this is more common with dogs).

Other symptoms include;

The above are common symptoms with a traditional upset stomach. However if your cat is very lethargic, has a very sore abdomen or has stopped passing poops you should see your veterinarian straight away. The same goes for if you notice blood in their vomit or diarrhea. These could be signs of a more serious issue (e.g. a bowel obstruction) and aren’t simple upset stomachs.

Also Read: Gastroenteritis In Cats: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

What Causes Upset Stomachs In Cats?

Now that we know what symptoms to look out for, our next question is what causes upset stomachs in cats? The answer is; many things!

Now that we know what symptoms to look out for, our next question is what causes upset stomachs in cats? The answer is; many things! Upset stomachs have many causes and these can be due to gastrointestinal causes (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease) or causes outside of the gastrointestinal system (e.g. chronic kidney disease).

Causes of upset stomachs in cats include;

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it includes the most common causes. Out of these causes, the most common cause of a mild upset stomach would be due to diet. It could be due to a recent change to a new cat food, eating new treats or even swiping some human food off the counter! Their tummies are sensitive to diet changes and this can be enough to cause some mild vomiting and diarrhea.

Another common cause is stress. Cats that have been introduced to a new family or a new home are likely to have some mild diarrhea initially due to stress but it should resolve quickly.

Young kittens are particularly prone to heavy intestinal parasite burdens and this can cause upset tummies so it’s important to think of this cause if you have a kitten.

Older cats will be particularly prone to developing chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, liver disease and diabetes mellitus. If you have an older cat with an upset stomach and other symptoms such as increased drinking and urinated, you should visit your vet.

Also Read: 10 Subtle Signs Your Cat May Be Sick

What Can You Give A Cat For An Upset Stomach?

Mild cases of upset stomachs can be treated at home initially if your cat seems well otherwise.

Mild cases of upset stomachs can be treated at home initially if your cat seems well otherwise. This means that they should be relatively alert and bright, still interested in eating some food, still drinking and passing regularly faeces.

Very mild cases will often resolve themselves within 24 hours. Your cat might only have 1-2 bouts of vomiting/diarrhea and that might be it. These cases don’t need any treatment but you should monitor your cat for a few days for any reoccurrence.

Cases that aren’t resolving or that are more severe will require some treatment. You can feed your cat a bland diet such as boiled chicken and white rice or buy a therapeutic diet from the pet shop or your vets. These diets will often be labelled as ‘Gastrointestinal’ or ‘sensitive’ foods. You should avoid feeding any other human foods or treats.

Probiotics can be useful in cases of an upset stomach as they put good bacteria back into your cat’s gut. They don’t have any known side effects and are safe to use. You can buy these from your veterinary clinic or over the counter in some pet stores.

For cats that are feeling stressed (e.g. with a house move) you can plug in a synthetic pheromone diffuser (Feliway) and provide plenty of resources. Resources include food bowls, water bowls, beds, litter boxes, scratching posts and hiding areas.

You should ensure that your cat is up to date with their worming treatment. This is particularly important if your cat goes outside and hunts as they’re more susceptible to worms. Kittens are quite vulnerable to heavy worm burdens and this can cause upset stomachs so keep this in mind if you have a kitten.

Older cats are prone to underlying conditions so if they have an upset tummy that isn’t resolving or is very severe, it’s worth keeping in mind that they could have an underlying condition and need to see their vet (DVM).

If the above home remedies aren’t resolving the upset stomach, then they will need veterinary treatment.

Also Read: The 6 Best Cat Food For Sensitive Stomach

When To Seek Treatment From A Vet

Most mild cases of an upset stomach will resolve by themselves within 24 hours or with a bland diet and probiotics.

Most mild cases of an upset stomach will resolve by themselves within 24 hours or with a bland diet and probiotics. If the upset stomach isn’t resolving you should seek advice from your veterinarian. Likewise, if the upset stomach is very severe or if your cat is displaying other symptoms they should have a vet visit. Other symptoms to monitor for include but aren’t limited to;

These symptoms might indicate that there’s an underlying cause for the upset stomach. Be sure to tell your vet about any symptoms that you can think of. They’ll examine your cat and might run some tests if they’re worried about underlying conditions. This can include a fecal sample, urine testing and blood testing along with x-rays (radiographs) and ultrasound.

Some more serious causes of vomiting and diarrhea might need surgery e.g. for a bowel obstruction. Other causes such as inflammatory bowel disease might need steroids, antibiotics and a special diet. If your cat has food allergies you vet will likely suggest doing a food trial with a hypoallergenic diet or a novel protein diet for at least 6 weeks.

The bottom line is to visit your veterinarian if you’re concerned about your cat or if you think their upset stomach isn’t resolving quickly.

Also Read: Best Cat Food For IBD

Conclusion

Ensure that your cat is up to date with their worming treatment and veterinary care.

Upset stomachs are a common occurrence in our feline friends. They can occur from eating something different (e.g. a new diet or some human food from the counter), parasites, stress, food allergies, or from an underlying condition. Bland diets and probiotics can be useful in treating mild upset stomachs. Ensure that your cat is up to date with their worming treatment and veterinary care. Visit your vet if the upset stomach isn’t resolving or if your cat has other symptoms that you’re worried about.

Also Read: Stomach Cancer In Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment​

Frequently Asked Questions

What do vets give cats for upset stomach?

Vets can give cats anti-nausea medication, probiotics, steroids and antibiotics depending on the cause. They might also recommend worming treatment and a therapeutic diet.

How long does upset stomach last in cats?

Mild upset stomachs usually last less than 24 hours and the symptoms shouldn’t be severe. If it’s lasting longer than this you should contact your local veterinarian.

Can I give my cat milk for an upset stomach?

No it isn’t recommended to give your cat milk. While this will keep them hydrated, cats are lactose intolerant so the milk could actually make the upset stomach worse. Continue to encourage water.

How Do I know if my cat has an upset stomach?

Symptoms of an upset stomach include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea (lip licking, drooling), gurgling from their tummy and lethargy. Their appetite can also be reduced and

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About Aisling O'Keeffe MVB CertSAM ISFMAdvCertFB

Aisling qualified from University College Dublin as a veterinarian in 2015 and went on to work in a mixture of small animal hospitals here and in the UK, including a cat-only veterinary clinic for 3 years. She has completed a postgraduate certificate in Small Animal Medicine and the International Society of Feline Medicine's postgraduate certificate in Advanced Feline Behaviour. Last year, she wrote a children's book called 'Minding Mittens', which aims to educate children on cat behaviour and care and featured on the RTE tv series 'Cat Hospital'. She has recently become a Fear Free certified vet, which aims to make vet visits as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. In her spare time, she enjoys looking after her pets, which includes 6 recently rescued guinea pigs and 13 ex-battery hens and renovating her cottage with her husband and baby

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