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For a while now, I’ve been helping my local animal shelter by fostering kittens. These little furry characters have brought such light to my life. Some are very shy when they first come to my house but slowly turn into purring love bugs. 

Many of these foster kittens come from unknown backgrounds and some have diarrhea. All of us caretakers need to know what to feed a kitten with diarrhea.

In general, a high-quality, highly-digestible balanced kitten diet is the best bet for kittens with diarrhea. My foster kittens eat Iams™ PERFECT PORTIONS™ Healthy Kitten Grain Free wet cat food. It works much better for me than less expensive and store brand food.

Since you are looking for food suggestions, I’ll share those first.

But keep in mind it’s extremely important to take your kitten to see a veterinarian. Many cases of diarrhea won’t get better without the proper medical treatment. I’ll cover symptoms, causes and treatment of kitten diarrhea later in the article.


  • Diarrhea is common in kittens with many causes including parasites, infections and stress. 
  • Highly-quality, highly digestible balanced kitten food is the best option to help the gastrointestinal tract heal.
  • Exam, diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian is the fastest, safest way to get kittens back on the road to health. 

What to feed a kitten with diarrhea

Watching your kitten deal with diarrhea is no fun. Choosing the right food can help, but it’s often confusing to know what’s best. Some foods can improve the situation, while others could make it worse.

Below, I’ve shared some food options that I personally recommend for kittens with diarrhea. These are just suggestions to consider and discuss with your vet.

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Iams™ PERFECT PORTIONS™ Healthy Kitten Grain Free wet cat food

Pros: low carb, high-quality protein, non-prescription, wet form, affordable. Smooth enough to syringe-feed to kittens.
Cons: more expensive than store brands.

*This is the one I feed my foster kittens!

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Purina® Pro Plan® Kitten dry food with probiotics

Pros: dry & wet form available, high-quality ingredients, non-prescription.
Cons: more expensive than store brands, may be hard to find in stores.

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Hill’s Prescription Diet® i/d Cat Food

Pros: Highly digestible, contains the right type and amount of fiber to normalize gut bacteria. OK for kittens & available in wet or dry form. Most kittens love the flavor. 
Cons: prescription only, higher cost.

Is homemade kitten food good for diarrhea?

I know everyone on the internet is telling you to feed chicken and rice or something similar. But these diets are very unbalanced and can cause problems for kittens when fed for more than a day or two. 

There are plenty of nutritionally balanced products available for kittens in the form of dry or wet food. If you insist on using a homemade diet it is imperative that you consult a veterinary nutritionist for a complete and balanced recipe. 

my foster kittens chowing down
My foster kittens chowing down on Iams kitten food.

High-quality probiotic supplements can help   

Kittens with diarrhea may have an abnormal balance of bacteria in their gut. Multiple studies have found that giving an oral supplement of inert “good” bacteria can help normalize the feces of cats and kittens. (1

Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help balance the gut’s microbial environment. These friendly bacteria aid in digestion, boost the immune system and counteract harmful bacteria that occur when kittens have bowel disturbances.

Proviable DC®: This unflavored option has multiple strains of bacteria, potentially offering a broader range of benefits for your kitten’s digestive health. *This is the one I give my foster kittens.

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Talk to your vet before starting probiotic supplements

Before starting your kitten on probiotics, please consult with your veterinarian. They can provide guidance on the best type and dosage suitable for your kitten’s unique needs. 

When introducing probiotics, it’s important to monitor your kitten for any changes in their appetite or stool consistency and keep your vet updated.

Remember, while probiotics can be a good tool in managing loose stools in kittens, they are just one piece of the puzzle. You always need to take a comprehensive approach to your kitten’s health, considering diet, medical check-ups, and other relevant factors.

Now, with some quick first aid tips out of the way, let’s discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of diarrhea in kittens.

Detecting kitten diarrhea: smells, smears and sounds

If you use clumping cat litter, it might be challenging to spot soft poop. Ideally, a kitten’s feces should resemble the shape of a log. While a bit of moisture is normal, the stool should maintain a solid structure.

If you don’t see them poop, look out for these indicators:

  • Streaks of feces on litter box sides
  • Increased frequency of defecation
  • Residue of feces on their fur
  • A particularly strong odor from the litter box
  • Unusual noises while pooping
  • Extended time spent in the litter box trying to defecate.

Causes of kitten diarrhea: parasites, viruses and more

kitten diarrhea infographic

Feline diarrhea can have various causes, from bacteria, viruses and parasites to stress. (2) Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Parasites: Kittens can get intestinal parasites like roundworms and giardia either from their mothers or their surroundings.
  • Viruses: Some viruses common in kittens are feline enteric coronavirus, cat parvovirus and feline leukemia virus.
  • Bacterial imbalances: Changes in gut bacteria can lead to abnormal stools.
  • Stress: Changes like weaning or moving homes can stress a young kitten, leading to loose bowel movements.
  • Diet issues: Low-quality food, change of diet or sensitivity to certain ingredients. 
  • Overfeeding: especially in very young kittens, too much food can cause either diarrhea or constipation.

If your kitten has diarrhea, see a vet. They’ll test for parasites and may recommend tests based on the kitten’s health and history.


YouTube player
Kitten School shares some great insights on kitten diarrhea.

What to do when you notice kitten diarrhea

Dealing with a kitten experiencing health issues can be worrisome. It’s hard for many kitten lovers to know if they should just monitor the kitty or if they should seek medical attention. 

Here’s a guide on the immediate steps to take based on the symptoms you observe:

Immediate vet attention is needed if you see these symptoms

If your kitten displays any of the following symptoms call your vet for an appointment now. Don’t wait to get help if:

  • Kitten exhibits other concerning signs such as vomiting or lethargy.
  • There’s a noticeable reduction or cessation in eating or drinking water in the past 48 hours.
  • The kitten appears to be losing weight.

If your kitten has diarrhea but acts normal otherwise

  • Immediately stop giving your kitten any treats.
  • I don’t recommend withholding all food without consulting your veterinarian.
  • If you’ve recently introduced a new diet within the last few days, consider reverting to the former kitten food.
  • Keep a close watch on your kitten for any other symptoms. 
  • If diarrhea persists longer than 48 hours or new symptoms develop, you should consult with a veterinarian.
formed kitten feces in a litterbox
Good signs: no smears of poop on the sides of the litterbox and formed feces!

Understanding the appearance: kitten poop chart

Understanding your kitten’s poop can provide valuable insights into their health. While it’s always best to consult a veterinarian if you notice any drastic changes or have concerns, here’s a basic guide to help you decode your kitten’s stool…

–NormalStools are firm but not hard, with a log-like shape.
–HardDehydration or constipation
–BrownTypical healthy kitten stool color.
–Black or TarryPossible bleeding in the upper digestive tract.
–Bright RedPossible bleeding in the lower digestive tract.
–Pale or Clay-ColoredCould signify parasites or liver, gallbladder, or pancreas issues.
–MildNormal stool odor.
–Strong or Foul-smellingMight indicate an infection or dietary problem.
Presence of Mucus/Blood
–MucusLarge intestine inflammation.
–BloodViral infection, parasites, or other serious conditions.
–Increase or decreaseKittens usually poop 2-4 times per day. Sudden shifts can hint at health issues. 
Other Observations
–WormsHookworms, roundworms, tapeworms etc.–parasitic infection.
–Foreign ObjectsKitten ate something inappropriate. Could cause digestive tract problems.

Remember, while these guidelines can help you keep an eye on your kitten’s health, they are not definitive. Any changes in your kitten’s poop, especially if combined with other symptoms, should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. 

Preventing future diarrhea episodes

white kitten with black spot on face (what to feed a kitten with diarrhea)
This foster kitten overcame diarrhea with the right treatment and good food.

Dealing with a kitten’s abnormal stools can be distressing for both the pet and the human caregiver. Once you’ve got a plan in place to address the immediate problem, you can start planning for future prevention. 

Here’s how you can take proactive steps to minimize the chances of future episodes of loose bowel movements in your kitten.

Good hygiene practices

  • Scoop the litter box once or twice daily. Empty and sanitize it at least once a week to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Wash your kitten’s food and water bowls with hot, soapy water daily.
  • Wash hands before and after handling kittens and kitten food.

Regular health checks and deworming

  • Regular vet visits can catch issues early.
  • Follow your vet’s deworming advice to prevent soft stools.

Introduce new elements carefully

  • Change your kitten’s diet gradually to avoid upset.
  • Introduce new pets carefully to prevent disease spread.
  • Keep play areas safe and free from toxins.

Prevention is always better than cure. By maintaining good hygiene practices, regular health checks, and carefully introducing new elements into your kitten’s environment, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of future diarrhea episodes.


Kitten diarrhea is a common issue and can be caused by many things. If your kitten has loose stools for more than 48 hours, it’s important to take them to a vet for a check-up and fecal testing. Waiting too long risks the development of complications like dehydration and low blood sugar levels. 

Kittens are small and their systems are sensitive. Don’t take chances trying to fix ongoing diarrhea problems at home. Your sweet kitty will recover faster with professional help! 

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Related Posts

  1. Lee, D., Goh, T. W., Kang, M. G., Choi, H. J., Yeo, S. Y., Yang, J., Huh, C. S., Kim, Y. Y., & Kim, Y. (2022). Perspectives and advances in probiotics and the gut microbiome in companion animals. Journal of Animal Science and Technology, 64(2), 197-217. https://doi.org/10.5187/jast.2022.e8
  2. Marks, S. L. (2016). Rational approach to diagnosing and managing infectious causes of diarrhea in kittens. August’s Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine, Volume 7, 1.
  3. Marks, S. L., & Willard, M. D. (2006). Diarrhea in kittens. Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine, 133.