Does your cat have diarrhea? Or maybe they’re vomiting? If you’re like many cat owners, these issues have led you to search for remedies that will settle your cat’s upset stomach. These symptoms can be brought on by many different causes including:
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Ingesting a toxic substance, unusual food, or foreign material
- A food allergy
- A food intolerance
- A serious disease, such as an inflammatory bowel disease, organ dysfunction, or cancer
- A side effect of drug treatment
So what can you do to help ease your cat’s upset stomach?
If your cat’s vomiting or diarrhea is severe and/or frequent, talk to your veterinarian immediately. Keep in mind that besides occasional vomiting caused by hairballs, it is not normal for cats to vomit.1 Both vomiting and diarrhea may be symptoms of a range of medical conditions, so it is best to take your cat to the vet to get the all-clear.2
If, however, your cat’s vomiting or diarrhea just started and is not severe or is a rare occurrence, the following 6 remedies may help settle your cat’s upset stomach.
When your cat is suffering from an upset stomach, one of the best remedies to try is the simplest: fasting. Fasting (that is, withholding food from your cat) will give your cat’s upset stomach a chance to settle.
To put your cat on a fast, you will need to remove their food sources. You can also remove water, but just for a few hours, until it’s clear that their stomach has started to settle. Keep in mind, though, that cats can develop a potentially serious condition called hepatic lipidosis if they don’t eat for even relatively short periods of time.3 Never fast your cat for longer than 12 hours unless told to do so by your veterinarian.
Here is a rough timeline that you can follow to put your cat on a fast:
- Remove both food and water for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, reintroduce water if they are no longer vomiting.
- After 8 to 12 hours, gradually reintroduce food.
2. Bland Diet
When it comes time to reintroduce food to your cat, it is advisable to put them on a bland diet. A bland diet is recommended by vets when your cat’s digestive tract is upset and needs a rest.4 It is designed to provide your cat with some nutrition to help them get on the road to recovery.
So what foods can you feed them on a bland diet? Boiled white meat chicken mixed with a little cooked white rice is a popular option. The length of time you should stick to a bland diet will depend on your cat’s condition. Anywhere from a few days to a week may be necessary. However, many bland diets do not provide all the nutrition a cat needs to stay healthy. Your veterinarian can prescribe a complete and balanced bland diet for long term feeding if that proves necessary.
While they are on the bland diet, be sure to avoid giving your cat treats or any other foods.
3. Sensitive Stomach Cat Food
Photo courtesy: Pixabay Public Domain
As mentioned above, your cat’s upset stomach may be caused by a food intolerance. If this is the case, switching to high-quality sensitive stomach cat food may help to settle your cat’s upset stomach.
Sensitive stomach cat foods are formulated to provide cats with a nutritious diet that won’t aggravate their gastrointestinal (GI) system. This type of cat food is typically highly digestible and may contain ingredients that promote beneficial gut bacteria.
Of course, if switching your cat to a sensitive stomach cat food doesn’t improve their symptoms, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.
If you take your cat to the vet, they may prescribe medication to help settle your cat’s upset stomach after assessing their condition. The type of medication will depend on the vet’s diagnosis. For example, if the upset stomach is a one-off occurrence, they may prescribe a short course of anti-nausea medication and/or anti-diarrheal agents. Or, if your cat’s symptoms are caused by certain parasites, the doctor will prescribe a deworming medication.
In more severe cases, cats may require hospitalization for monitoring, supportive care, like fluid therapy, and other treatments.
5. Probiotic Supplements
Probiotic supplements may be able to help if your cat’s upset stomach is caused by or leads to changes in their intestinal microbial population.5 Probiotics are naturally-occurring live, good bacteria that help to balance a cat’s gut microbiome (the numerous microorganisms that live in their intestinal tract).
When your cat gets sick, it can lead to a die-off of good bacteria and an increase in the bad bacteria in their gut. This imbalance can in turn cause or exasperate your cat’s upset stomach.
Probiotic supplements help to increase the number of good bacteria in your cat’s gut, so taking one may help settle your cat’s stomach or prevent the issue from recurring in the future.
When selecting a probiotic, it is important to select one that has undergone rigorous research.6 This is why it is best for your vet to recommend one, rather than choose a product yourself.
6. Hairball Remedies
If your cat’s upset stomach is due to a hairball problem, giving them a hairball remedy may help it pass. A variety of hairball remedies are available. Veterinarians commonly recommend flavored lubricant gels (Laxatone, for example) that are available over the counter. Follow the directions on the label, and be sure to reach out to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
If your cat’s upset stomach is indeed caused by hairballs, the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to help prevent hairballs in the future.7
The 6 remedies outlined above may be able to help settle your cat’s upset stomach. The suitability and effectiveness of each one will depend on your cat’s overall health and the cause of their upset stomach.
If your cat’s upset stomach appears to be serious or if you are worried that your cat’s stomach issues may be symptomatic of a more serious health concern, remember that it is vital to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Jordan E. Food intolerance in cats. Catvets.com. Published April, 2008: 50. Accessed March 4, 2021.
- American Association of Feline Practitioners. Signs & symptoms. Catfriendly.com. Accessed March 4, 2021.
- Brooks W. Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) in cats. Veterinarypartner.vin.com. Published May 31, 2003. Updated June 12, 2018. Accessed March 3, 2021.
- Brooks W. Blah, blah, and more blah! Bland diet instructions for dogs and cats. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 3, 2021.
- Gollakner R. Probiotics. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 3, 2021.
- Burns K. The hidden ecosystem of the gut microbiome. Vcahospitals.com. Published August 28, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021.
- Scherk M. Hairballs. Catfriendly.com. Accessed March 3, 2021.