How I Cured My Cat’s Diarrhea (and Saved His Life)

Leigh - The Paw Sitter blog, Pet Food, Pet Health & Safety

When a cat begins vomiting more frequently, or having diarrhea, many cat owners become nervous; myself included. Often we begin internet search before a vet visit, or after one if the vet has no or few answers for us. Early in 2008, both my cats began vomiting a few times a week and, more upsetting, my 13 year old Persian cat started having chronic diarrhea. Here is my in-depth account about how I cured my cat of his chronic diarrhea. I made one change to his diet and the diarrhea never returned.

Oscar in January, before being switched to raw food. His fur, once fluffy, was now stringy and unhealthy looking.

Oscar in January, before being switched to raw food. His fur, once fluffy, was now stringy and unhealthy looking.

A vet prescribed antibiotic, but the diarrhea only went away for 2 days and returned midway through the antibiotic treatment. The vet said if the antibiotic didn’t help, he would need to start performing tests for more serious ailments and it could be anything, even cancer. But I thought before going that route, I’d start researching cat food to get a better idea of what I was feeding them.

I had been feeding them Nutro dry and canned for years, and although I knew it wasn’t the healthiest brand available, I was comfortable with it because it was more healthy than the grocery store brands and one of the best at PetSmart.

After some research, I tried to switch him to California Natural, which was marketed as being free of fillers and better for “sensitive systems.” I started learning that cats bodies can start to reject a food that is fed to them too long, and their bodies can become “allergic” to it. No vet had ever said anything like that to me. I would later learn about IBD (Irritable bowel disease).

My cat’s diarrhea and vomiting did not improve even after a very slow, very careful switch to California Natural. The more reading I did, the more I kept seeing the phrases “grain free” and “raw food.” At first, I scanned completely over any article that said “raw” because that seemed too far off the deep end to me. I also didn’t think you could feed RAW food to a cat that was having diarrhea…after all, the vet had prescribed antibiotics because of bacteria, so how could I give my cat bacteria laden raw food?!

Then one day I stumbled upon a post from a cat owner on a pet forum whose cat was having the same symptoms as mine – diarrhea every day, vomiting every few days. She gave her cat raw food one day, and the diarrhea stopped that very same day. She said one month later, the diarrhea had not returned. Wow. If the result was that immediate for her, maybe I could give it a try. If the seemingly best commercial cat food out there (California Natural) and raw food didn’t help, then I’d go back to the vet for those tests.

I researched and researched raw food for cats and found a site by a veterinarian that explained it fully. She explained how to make it at home and even recommended a couple of pre-made brands that she felt were the next best thing if you really didn’t want to make it yourself. So I thought I’d buy one of these brands just to see if there was any change in my cat.

Here's Oscar in summer, just 5 months after being switched to raw food (Nature's Variety). His fur is fluffy and healthy and blowing in the breeze!

Here’s Oscar in summer, just 5 months after being switched to raw food (Nature’s Variety). His fur is fluffy and healthy and blowing in the breeze!

The brand I bought was Nature’s Variety. Rest assured I don’t sell this food, I simply love the brand for saving my cat. They sell three pound bags of one-ounce medallions. My cat, being a small 8 pounds, would need about 3 medallions a day. I defrosted one and put it in his bowl. Much to my surprise, Oscar–who had always been an OK eater but not an enthusiastic one–wolfed this medallion down like it was his first meal in weeks, then stared at me waiting for more! He had NEVER been that excited to eat in his life, except maybe the day I found him in a cold alley in Chicago during the winter of 1997. He never wolfed down aroma filled canned food or even dry food that fast. I couldn’t believe it and quickly defrosted another medallion for him, which was again wolfed down. My other cat wanted nothing to do with this weird raw food but I didn’t care about that right now, he was more healthy than Oscar.

So I sat back and waited, and watched. At this point, about two months after Oscar’s diarrhea had begun, he was leaving me about 5 runny piles per day (all over the house!); so I didn’t have to wait long. For the rest of the day there was no diarrhea. The next morning, he used the litter box and left a mushy, but almost solid dropping. The next day, completely solid. And that’s it. I kept feeding him Nature’s Variety raw, and the diarrhea and vomiting NEVER returned!

I got another surprise, too. Being a Persian cat, Oscar at one time was very fluffy. He hadn’t been fluffy for years, and I attributed that to his age. I had told vets that he had lost his fluff, but none of them ever said anything about it or seemed worried about it. Two weeks after Oscar’s start on raw, I looked at him one day and said to my friend, “am I crazy or does Oscar look a little fuller in his coat?”

One month later there was no mistaking it – Oscar’s fluffy undercoat was growing back for the first time in years!!! He was also more energetic. He was playing again. He was singing songs and chasing “ghosts.” He was a kitten again, at the ripe age of 13! Here I had been crying, thinking he was so old his body was failing him…thinking the tests at the vet would be so expensive I’d have to put him to sleep because I wouldn’t be able to afford care. And all I needed to do, for now, was change his diet.

So what had happened? Oscar had either become allergic to the food I’d fed him for so long, or his body could no longer break down and process any nutrition from dry food or even processed canned…possibly due to age. But I am now convinced that I hadn’t been giving his body the proper source of nutrients. He is a cat and I was not feeding him like one. And the entire pet food industry made me feel like I was feeding him the best. My friends and I had sworn by Nutro canned and dry for years. My cat was simply one of those cats that could not handle processed foods.

There are many options in feeding cats raw food. Click here to learn about the different ways to feed raw to cats. Some cats do fine on dry and canned food. But some cats don’t, and I would recommend all owners of cats suffering from diarrhea, allergies, and IBD to try raw food. It is unprocessed and grain-free, and it might be just what your cat needs.

There are also some natural treatments for diarrhea in cats that can be given instead of, or in conjunction with, antibiotics. These include probiotics and slippery elm, safe treatments you can buy today at a vitamin store.