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Why Does My Nursing Mother Cat Have Diarrhea?

Has your cat recently given birth and started having diarrhea? Are you wondering what could be causing it and how to treat it? Is this normal or cause for concern?

It is typical for nursing cats to have postpartum diarrhea. Cats that have just given birth to a litter of kittens have a lot happening to their bodies at once. This could be due to stress, anxiety, or an underlying illness needing treatment.

To find out what causes diarrhea in a nursing cat, when it’s concerning, and what you can do for your mother cat to help clear it up, continue reading this article.

Why is your nursing mother cat having a diarrhea? (4 reasons)

Many factors can contribute to the cause of your momma cat’s diarrhea. Getting to the bottom of it is key to providing your cat with the help she needs. 

Here are some reasons that could be causing your kitty’s loose stool.

#1 She might have eaten her kittens’ feces and urine

After birth, the mother cat, known as the queen, frequently grooms her kittens. This is to keep her kittens clean and to stimulate them to poop and pee.

Kittens cannot eliminate on their own, so the momma cat stimulates elimination after every feeding. 

She will eat the fecal matter and urine to maintain a clean living area. Mother cats will also do this to protect their kittens from predators finding them.

Queens stimulate their kittens until they can eliminate on their own, typically until they are four weeks old.

#2 She may have eaten her placentas

Each kitten that is born has its own placenta. There should be five placentas if the mother cat has a litter of five kittens.

The mother usually delivers the placenta after each kitten. She cleans the amniotic sac from their mouths and noses so they can breathe. 

She then severs the umbilical cord with her teeth and eats the placenta. She does this process again as each kitten is delivered.

Eating the placenta provides the mother cat with needed nutrients and keeps the birthing area clean.

#3 She may have retained a placenta

If your cat did not expel the same number of placentas as kittens from her uterus when giving birth, then she has retained a placenta.

A retained placenta is serious and can be fatal for the nursing mother cat. The placenta will need to be removed promptly. 

If not, it will decompose in the uterus and cause a dangerous bacterial infection that may enter the bloodstream and spread throughout her body.

Retained placentas put your cat at risk for metritis, which can lead to sterility and septic shock if she’s not promptly treated. Symptoms of bacterial infection of the uterus include:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vulva
  • Dark green- or dark brown-colored discharge 
  • discharge that is mixed with pus and blood from the vulva
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark red gums
  • Dehydration
  • Reduced milk production
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Neglecting kittens

#4 She may have existing intestinal issues

Your cat may have intestinal issues that have nothing to do with the fact that she is a nursing mother. These can be infectious diseases and noninfectious disorders. All of which can cause diarrhea.

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Infectious diseases include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Noninfectious disorders include:

  • Tumors
  • Obstruction

Can nursing her kittens cause diarrhea for the mother?

Can nursing her kittens cause a mother cat to have diarrhea

A mother cat will not get diarrhea, specifically from nursing her kittens. If your nursing cat is experiencing diarrhea, it is due to an underlying issue, such as one that this article has mentioned above. 

However, your cat may still be stressed from giving birth. Like people, stress can irritate a cat’s gastrointestinal tract, resulting in diarrhea.

To reduce stress, keep the cat and her kittens in a safe, quiet place away from other animals or people in the house. Signs your queen cat may be stressed include:

  • Aggression towards people
  • Aggression towards other animals or their kittens
  • Maternal neglect
  • Eating her kittens
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Over-grooming themselves or their kittens

Can diarrhea symptoms be passed from the mother to her kittens?

If the diarrhea is from stress or typical diarrhea that can occur in the first few days of giving birth, the kittens will not be affected. 

However, if the diarrhea is from an underlying issue, such as intestinal parasites, it can be passed to the kittens through eggs in their mother’s milk. This will cause the kittens to become infected as well.

How to help my nursing cat with diarrhea?

How to help my nursing cat with diarrhea

There are several different things you can try at home to help alleviate your cat’s diarrhea. It’s important to consult your veterinarian before trying these home remedies to ensure they are safe for your nursing cat. 

Also, your veterinarian may want to prescribe your cat some medication. Here is a list of ideas to help your cat feel better.

1. Feed your cat a bland diet

Feeding your queen cat a bland, low-fiber diet will give her gut a chance to rest so it can heal itself. This slows down defecation production. It’s also easy for her to digest. 

There are a few different foods that can help with diarrhea. These include:

  • Boiled chicken
  • Boiled hamburger
  • White rice
  • Plain mashed potatoes
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Canned pumpkin

It would be best to mix two parts of rice with one-part boiled chicken or hamburger. If your cat doesn’t like the rice, you can switch to plain mashed potatoes. This will help firm up her bowel movements.

Mixing 1 part cottage cheese with 3 parts white rice will do the same, or you can try adding 1-2 teaspoons of canned pumpkin to her food throughout the day.

Gradually switching her cat food to a more natural one can also help. They also make rice-based cat foods.

2. Give your cat probiotics

Probiotics are a mixture of live bacteria and yeast that is good for your body. It helps keep the intestinal bacteria in balance. 

Aside from helping stop diarrhea, probiotics also boost immunity, provide beneficial bacteria, and improve digestion. Types of probiotics you can give your cat include:

  • Powder that you can sprinkle on your cat’s food.
  • Capsules that you can attempt hiding in a treat to entice your kitty to swallow it.
  • Chews can come in delicious flavors that make feeding them to your cat easy.

Certain foods, such as yogurt, also contain probiotics that you can feed your cat to help stop her diarrhea.

3. Increase her water intake

Getting your sick kitty to drink the water she needs can be difficult. You may have to get creative with it to help her avoid dehydration. Here are a few suggestions to help with this.

  • Entice her to drink water by adding in some flavor. Some flavor options you can add are chicken broth, beef broth, and tuna juice.
  • Replace her water regularly to keep it fresh.
  • Add ice cubes to her water bowl.
  • Add or switch to wet food. Wet food is 80% water. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of water to her wet food until her stool firms up.
  • If needed, feed her water through a syringe.
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4. Ask about anti-diarrheal medicines

There are many over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications for cats, such as Nutri-Vet and Metamucil. Check with your veterinarian first before trying these products. 

Your vet may want to prescribe something or advise you on the correct dosage for your kitty. 

Also, some over-the-counter medications may not be safe to administer to a nursing cat. Your veterinarian will be able to steer you in the right direction.

When to see a veterinarian?

When to see a veterinarian

Diarrhea after delivery typically lasts 2 to 3 days and clears up on its own. You should monitor your cat for any changes in symptoms. Signs to look for when trying to determine if your cat needs a vet would be:

Diarrhea lasting more than 2-3 days

This is a cause to take your cat to the vet. They may give her medicine to treat diarrhea and run tests if they are concerned there could be a more severe problem. Your vet may ask you to bring a stool sample.


Dehydration is very serious. If your cat is nursing and hasn’t been drinking much water, she will become dehydrated much faster than a cat who isn’t nursing.

Dehydration can lead to severe medical conditions if not treated promptly. It can also be fatal to cats that become 10 to 12 percent dehydrated. If it becomes severe, treatment includes feeding through a tube and IV fluid.

Black or bloody stool

Black or bloody stool can indicate bleeding in the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract. This could be from the mouth, stomach, and small intestines.

Treatment will depend on the underlying condition. The cause can range from mild to severe, so it’s essential to take your kitty to the vet to have her checked out.

Additional symptoms

Additional symptoms, along with diarrhea, could be due to a number of causes. This should be treated as an emergency. You need to take your mother cat to the vet immediately if you begin seeing symptoms such as these:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • vomiting
  • lack of appetite

The veterinarian will ask you about what’s been happening with your cat recently. It’s important to inform your veterinarian of all symptoms as well as when they started and that your kitty has given birth recently.

They may ask you ahead of time to collect a stool sample for them to test and ask you to bring the kittens in with you to your appointment as well. They may also decide to do further testing to determine the cause.

Final Thoughts

It’s understandable to feel worried for your sick cat and want to do anything you can to help her feel better.

Being a nursing mother cat takes a lot of energy. Their instincts are to protect and care for their kittens. 

Falling sick can add stress to the situation if it’s hindering her ability to do so. It can also increase the risk of passing something harmful to her kittens through her milk.

The sooner you seek guidance from your veterinarian and find out the cause of the diarrhea is best. Your queen cat will become healthy, and she will be able to enjoy and care for her babies.