Digestive Issues in Cats

Symptoms of digestive issues in cats include vomiting, reluctance to eat, regurgitation, chronic diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Your cat’s digestive problems could be caused by many different conditions, ranging in severity. We will give an overview of possible causes and treatments for your cat’s digestive issues. If your cat is sick, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Common Symptoms of Digestive Problems in Cats

  • bad breath
  • abdominal pain
  • regurgitation or vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • increased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • weight loss
  • painful abdomen
  • lethargy
  • blood in stool or vomit

Common Causes of Digestive Issues:

Infectious organisms

One of the major causes of digestive issues is infectious agents such as parasites, protozoa, fungus, and viruses. Gastrointestinal (GI) infections can cause weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Diagnosis of a GI infection is done by examining a fecal sample from your pet. Some testing can be done at your veterinarian, but some may need to be sent to an outside laboratory.

Examples of infectious organisms include roundworms, tapeworms, giardia, coccidia, feline parvovirus. It is important to treat these infections not only for your pet but also because some of them are zoonotic, meaning they can be passed to humans.


Hairballs are another common problem associated with digestive issues in cats. Cats clean and groom themselves by licking their body, and when they swallow too much of their hair, it causes a blockage in their digestive tract called a hairball. The blockage stops other materials, such as food and water, from being digested and results in vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. If your cat cannot pass the hairball naturally, it needs to be removed either by endoscopy or medication.

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include chronic vomiting or diarrhea. This disease affects your cat’s ability to digest and absorb food. If left untreated, your cat may lose weight and become malnourished.

Foreign body ingestion

Cats are curious creatures and can often play with and sometimes eat toys or other material that can cause irritation or obstruction of the digestive tract. Make sure you carefully monitor your cat’s toys and other objects they are playing with to ensure that they don’t eat something they shouldn’t. If a cat eats something that causes a blockage of the intestines this can cause severe vomiting and may require surgery to remove. Common materials that have to be surgically removed are hair elastics and string.

Ingestion of toxic materials

Many common household items can be toxic to cats and ingestion often results in vomiting or diarrhea. Here is more information on potentially toxic items around the house.


There are many types of cancers that can affect the GI tract. The most common of which is lymphoma. This generally affects older cats (7-10 years) but can affect cats of any age. Typical signs are weight loss, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, and blood in their stool.

Diseases of other organs

Sometimes diseases in other parts of the body can cause digestive problems. For example, kidney disease can cause weight loss and vomiting. This is why it’s important that your veterinarian looks at the whole picture of your cat’s health when trying to determine the cause of digestive issues.

How do I cure digestive issues in my cat?

Take your cat to see a veterinarian if they show symptoms of digestive issues. Many diseases and disorders share the same symptoms, so your veterinarian will be able to diagnose your cat correctly. There are preventive measures to reduce the risk of any severe digestive disorders in your feline friend.

Regular checkups
Regular checkups are necessary to prevent and catch any digestive illnesses. Vaccination and parasite preventative medications help your pet avoid digestive problems.

Keeping your cat hydrated reduces the risk of a more severe outcome with digestive ailments such as diarrhea. Always provide your cat with clean and fresh drinking water to keep its body hydrated. Moreover, frequently clean their water bowl. Water upholds paramount importance to maintain the digestive health of all pets, just like humans.

Balanced diet
A balanced diet supports normal, healthy digestion. Consult your veterinarian when choosing the right food for your cat. The food should be life-stage and lifestyle-appropriate. Read more about choosing the right pet food here.

Brushing your cat’s hair helps reduce hairballs and enhance blood circulation across the body, which revitalizes its energy. Cats with thick fur need brushing daily to avoid matting and other issues. A healthy coat is part of a healthy cat.


Pay attention to your cat’s behavior. If you observe any change in eating or bathroom habits, consult your veterinarian. Digestive problems can be unpleasant for both of you and your kitty, so ensure proper diagnosis and medication at the first sign of this disorder.

Take precautionary measures to avoid any digestive problems. If the digestive concern arises or continues, consult a veterinary expert immediately.