7 Tips When Your Cat Has an Upset Stomach


7 Tips When Your Cat Has an Upset Stomach


Upset stomach issues are remarkably common in our feline companions and affect them in various ways. By gaining insights into the nuances of feline behavior and digestion, we can offer our cats the care they need during these uncomfortable times. Understanding the reasons behind upset stomachs, as well as signs and symptoms, allows us to be more informed guardians. This knowledge enables us to react appropriately, nurturing our cats back to health gently and effectively.

Identify the Signs that Your Cat May Have an Upset Stomach

Recognizing an upset stomach in cats begins with close observation of their behavior and physical state. When cats experience digestive trouble, they might exhibit changes such as decreased appetite, lethargy, or alterations in their usual bathroom habits. It’s common for a cat to seek isolation or react irritably if they’re not feeling well. On the physical front, signs can range from vomiting and diarrhea to a tense or bloated abdomen. Consistently monitoring your cat’s behavior and bodily functions provides crucial clues about their digestive health and the need for action.

Assess the Severity of Your Cat’s Stomach Upset

Not all instances of an upset stomach are emergencies, but distinguishing between a minor issue and a critical condition is vital. A single instance of vomiting or a brief change in behavior might not be cause for immediate concern. However, persistent symptoms, blood in the stool or vomit, or signs of pain are red flags that necessitate prompt veterinary attention. Monitoring the duration and intensity of your cat’s symptoms is essential, as prolonged digestive issues can lead to dehydration and other serious health complications. When in doubt, consulting with a veterinarian is the best course of action to safeguard your cat’s well-being.

Offer a Bland Diet Temporarily to Ease Your Cat’s Digestive Tract

When managing a feline’s upset stomach, a bland diet can be a comforting solution. Suitable bland foods include boiled chicken or turkey without skin or seasonings, and plain, cooked white rice. These foods are gentle on the stomach and can help bind stools in the case of diarrhea. When feeding a sick cat, it’s important to start with small, frequent portions. This method helps avoid further stomach upset and allows you to gauge how your cat’s digestive system is handling the new diet. Gradually increasing the meal size as symptoms improve can help restore your cat’s digestive health without overwhelming their system.

Ensure Your Cat Stays Hydrated

Hydration is crucial, especially when your cat is experiencing an upset stomach. Encouraging your pet to drink more water can be achieved through methods such as providing fresh water at various locations, using water fountains, or mixing water with their food. Pay close attention to the signs of dehydration which include sunken eyes, dry gums, and decreased skin elasticity. In instances of continued vomiting or diarrhea, these signs may manifest quickly, so maintaining vigilance and encouraging fluid intake is crucial. Always provide clean, accessible water, and consider seeking veterinary advice if you observe signs of dehydration.

Limit or Avoid Giving Your Cat Dairy Products

Cats are commonly believed to enjoy milk, but the reality is that many are lactose intolerant. Offering your cat dairy can exacerbate stomach issues, as their digestive system is not well-equipped to handle it.

It’s a charming image – the cat lapping up a saucer of milk. However, this bucolic scene is not only outdated, it’s potentially unhealthy for our feline friends. Lactose intolerance is not uncommon in cats, which means dairy products can lead to digestive distress, including an upset stomach. As a cat carer, it’s imperative to recognize that what’s affectionately depicted in old storybooks could actually cause your pet discomfort.

What then, can one offer instead of dairy? Water remains the staple for hydration, but for cats that need something more tempting, pet stores carry lactose-free cat milk. Broths are another good option, provided they are free of onions, garlic, and excessive sodium. If you’re introducing new liquids to your cat’s diet, do it in small amounts to avoid further upsetting their stomach.

Create a Calm Environment to Help Your Cat Recover

A cat’s environment plays a crucial role in their recovery from stomach upset, with stress greatly impacting their health.

Our homes are not just spaces where we carry out our daily routines; they are sanctuaries for our fellow family members, including our pets. When cats are under the weather, their need for a peaceful, soothing environment becomes paramount. Stress has a direct effect on the immune system, and a stressed cat is a cat that will have a harder time bouncing back from illness.

To create that serene atmosphere, consider what might be influencing your cat’s stress levels. Changes in the household routine or new pets can be unsettling. Maintain a predictable routine and provide your feline with a quiet space where they can retreat. Also, pay attention to the little things – a clean litter box, familiar scents, and gentle interactions are all elements that create a nurturing environment. By limiting noise and interruptions, your cat can focus on recovery.

Avoid OTC Medications Unless Prescribed by a Veterinarian

Administering over-the-counter medications to a cat without veterinary advice can be dangerous and is discouraged.

When our beloved pets are in discomfort, it’s only natural to seek ways to alleviate their pain. However, the feline system is significantly different from ours, and what is safe for humans can be toxic for cats. Over-the-counter medications designed for human consumption can result in severe consequences, including worsening your cat’s condition or leading to new health issues.

Professional guidance is essential for the well-being of our pets. Should you suspect your cat’s upset stomach requires treatment beyond home care, reach out to your veterinarian. They can prescribe the appropriate medication and dosage tailored to your cat’s specific needs. In doing so, you’re not only treating the immediate problem but ensuring the long-term health and happiness of your companion.

What Home Remedies Can I Give My Cat for an Upset Stomach?

Many cat owners seek safe and natural home remedies to alleviate their feline friend’s discomfort when they’re experiencing an upset stomach. Simple solutions may include offering boiled chicken or plain rice, which are gentle on the stomach. Some over-the-counter human medications are safe for cats at the right dosage, such as famotidine (Pepcid), but always consult a veterinarian before giving any medication. Probiotics designed specifically for cats can also support a healthy digestive system. It’s crucial to avoid giving your cat any home remedies that are not vet-approved, as some substances that are harmless to humans can be toxic to cats.

Keep your cat hydrated and consider feeding them small, frequent meals rather than one or two large ones. Withholding food for a short period followed by a gradual reintroduction to a bland diet can also be helpful. However, remember that home care is not a substitute for professional veterinary treatment if symptoms persist or worsen.

How Can I Prevent My Cat From Having an Upset Stomach in the Future?

Preventing future occurrences of an upset stomach in your cat includes maintaining a consistent, high-quality diet and avoiding sudden changes in their food. Make sure fresh drinking water is always available and limit the intake of treats and human food, which can disrupt their digestive system. Regular deworming and parasite control are crucial since parasites can cause gastric upset. Additionally, supervise outdoor activity to prevent your cat from ingesting toxic substances or spoiled food and keep household plants and chemicals out of reach.

Stress can also play a role in digestive issues, so create a calm environment for your cat, with access to quiet resting areas and enrichment activities. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential in catching and preventing health issues that could cause stomach problems. Ensure your cat maintains a healthy weight, as obesity can contribute to digestive issues.

What Foods Should I Avoid Giving My Cat If They Have a Sensitive Stomach?

Cats with sensitive stomachs require a careful approach to feeding. Avoid offering dairy products, as many cats are lactose intolerant after weaning. Keep spicy, fatty, or rich foods off the menu; these can exacerbate digestive issues. Skip giving your cat raw meat, eggs, or fish since these can contain bacteria or parasites that lead to foodborne illnesses. Grains and fillers often found in lower-quality cat foods can also be troublesome for sensitive felines. Chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, onions, garlic, and grapes are outright toxic to cats and should always be avoided.

Seek out specially formulated cat foods made for sensitive stomachs that are gentle and designed to prevent irritation. These may include limited ingredient diets or hypoallergenic formulations. Always transition to new foods gradually over several days to give your cat’s digestive system time to adjust to avoid upsetting their stomach further.

When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet for an Upset Stomach?

An upset stomach in a cat can be a sign of a variety of issues ranging from mild to severe. Scheduling a vet visit is advised when you notice persistent symptoms such as repeated vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, changes in appetite, or blood in vomit or stools. These symptoms may indicate an underlying condition that requires medical attention. Additionally, if your cat’s abdomen is swollen or tender to the touch or if they are displaying signs of pain or distress, urgent veterinary care is needed.

Cats that are unable to keep water down may become dehydrated quickly, which is especially dangerous for kittens and senior cats. If your cat has a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease, any occurrence of gastric upset should prompt an immediate call to the vet. Remember, prompt and proper veterinary care can be critical in ensuring your cat’s health and well-being.


How long does a typical upset stomach last in cats?

An upset stomach in cats can vary in duration depending on the cause. Generally, if it’s a simple digestive issue, it may resolve within 24 to 48 hours. However, if your cat’s symptoms persist beyond a couple of days or worsen, it’s important to consult a veterinarian to rule out serious health concerns.

Can I give my cat human medications like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium?

No, you should not give your cat human medications unless prescribed by a veterinarian. Many human medications can be toxic to cats. If you think your cat needs medication, consult your vet for a safe and appropriate treatment.

What dietary changes can I make to help soothe my cat’s upset stomach?

For minor stomach upsets, a bland diet for a few days can help. This may include small, frequent feedings of boiled skinless chicken and rice, which are gentle on the stomach. Gradually reintroduce their regular food as they improve. Always consult your vet before making significant changes to your cat’s diet.

Is it normal for a cat to vomit occasionally?

Occasional vomiting might be normal, as cats sometimes throw up hairballs or food they’ve eaten too quickly. However, frequent vomiting, or vomiting in combination with other symptoms like lethargy or diarrhea, should be taken seriously and warrants a veterinary visit.

Are there any signs that indicate my cat’s upset stomach is an emergency?

Yes, if your cat exhibits symptoms such as continuous vomiting or diarrhea, significant lethargy, a swollen abdomen, signs of pain, or if they have ingested a potentially toxic substance, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

When should I transition back to regular food after my cat’s stomach upset?

Once your cat’s symptoms have subsided and they’re showing interest in food again, you can gradually reintroduce their regular diet over a few days. Start by mixing a little of their regular food with the bland diet and slowly increase the proportion as tolerated.

Can certain foods cause an upset stomach in cats?

Yes, some foods can cause digestive issues in cats. Dairy products, fatty foods, and high-fiber foods can be difficult for cats to digest. It’s also important to avoid giving your cat any food that is toxic to them, such as onions, garlic, chocolate, or grapes.


Dealing with a cat that has an upset stomach can be a challenging and concerning experience for any pet owner. It’s important to monitor your cat’s symptoms, provide appropriate care at home, and seek veterinary advice when necessary. Remember that a cat’s digestive system is delicate, and prompt attention to dietary and health concerns can prevent complications. Always be cautious with home remedies and consult your vet before administering any treatments. With the right approach, most cats recover quickly from stomach upsets, and by following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to help your feline friend feel better.

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