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Can Cat Litter Cause Diarrhea in Your Kitty?

  • 4 min read

Can Cat Litter Cause Diarrhea in Your Kitty?

When you clean your cat's litter box regularly, you can't help but notice changes in his bathroom habits. One thing responsible cat parents should always look for is evidence of diarrhea. Just like in humans, parasites, bacteria, and viruses can cause diarrhea in cats.


One possible cause of diarrhea may be the place where he's doing his business – his litter box. Could the litter be to blame? The short answer is yes, whether directly or through contamination.

Here we'll explain how cat litter can cause diarrhea and explore ways you can prevent it.

A Dirty Litter Box

Life is hectic. Sometimes it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. Balancing work, family, a social life, and more is tough. Cleaning the litter box often comes last on the long list of things you need to do.

But leaving a litter box full of Fluffy's waste can be more than just a stinky problem. It also allows for harmful bacteria and viruses to flourish. When your cat steps into the dirty litter, particles coat his little paws. Later, while grooming, Fluffy might lick his feet, causing him to ingest harmful bacteria and viruses that may cause diarrhea.

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The leading cause of upset tummies and diarrhea in cats is rotavirus infection. This virus spreads through contact with contaminated feces. Kittens are particularly susceptible, as are cats with weakened immune systems.

Cats with severe cases might not want to eat, leading to significant weight loss. Death from dehydration may also occur. Rotaviruses are zoonotic, which means they can transfer from animals to humans.

Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that can survive for long periods of time in cat urine and feces. The infection it causes – campylobacteriosis – can give your kitty diarrhea. It may spread when waste or contaminated litter is ingested. Campylobacteriosis is also zoonotic.



If your cat becomes sick with campylobacteriosis or rotavirus, you can stop the infections from spreading by cleaning his litter box regularly and thoroughly. Wear gloves, and change the litter completely each month. Scrubbing the litter box with soap and hot water will help, too. These practices will keep your cat (and you!) diarrhea-free.


Parasites in Cat Litter

Litter can also be a breeding ground for parasites that can infect your cat and give him diarrhea. Coccidia are a group of parasites that infect many cats, though only some have symptoms. Besides diarrhea, cats with coccidia may have a fever, convulsions, or be depressed.

Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, is a type of coccidia parasite. It can infect both cats and people. Toxoplasma gondii and other coccidia parasites are transferred through contact with contaminated feces, making dirty litter boxes a potential source of infection.

Cryptosporidium is another parasite that can cause diarrhea and fever in your kitty. Fluffy may pick it up by ingesting contaminated food, water, or feces.

Giardia is another parasite that may give Fluffy severe diarrhea. The cystic form of the parasite is shed in feces. It can survive in damp environments for months and can be very hard to get rid of, especially in homes and shelters with multiple cats.

Cats can pick up the parasite by ingesting contaminated water or feces. Keeping litter boxes clean is very important when it comes to keeping Fluffy and his feline friends healthy.


Intestinal Blockages

Diarrhea may be a sign that your cat has an intestinal blockage, which is a serious medical concern. But how can cat litter cause a blockage and diarrhea?

We've written before on the potential hazards of clay kitty litter. One of the problems of clumping clay litter is that the granules can expand up to fifteen times their size once they come into contact with moisture.

If your cat licks some of the dry granules off his paws, or if your curious kitten tastes her kitty litter, the granules can expand inside their bodies. Diarrhea is one sign that your kitty may have an intestinal blockage. If Fluffy is also vomiting, not eating, feeling tired, or appears in pain, it's a good idea to call your veterinarian.


PrettyLitter Can Cat Litter Cause Diarrhea in Your Kitty?

Using a silica gel cat litter such as PrettyLitter is a good solution. Silica gel crystals trap odors but do not let liquids linger, unlike other litters that simply swell to surround liquid waste.

Instead, with silica litter, moisture simply evaporates while odors are trapped inside. This causes a drier environment in the litter box, which discourages the growth of bacteria and parasites like giardia that thrive in moist environments.

PrettyLitter is a safe choice for Fluffy. Its silica gel crystals won't expand inside you kitty, nor will they be absorbed by his bowels.

PrettyLitter has the added benefit of indicating other potential health problems in your kitty. The acidity, alkalinity, or presence of blood in Fluffy's urine causes PrettyLitter to change color. You'll be able to get him the healthcare he needs as soon as possible.

Contaminated cat litter can cause diarrhea in your kitty. So can the litter itself. Luckily, there are ways to keep Fluffy healthy and diarrhea-free. Always keep his litter box clean, and consider switching to PrettyLitter – a safer, silica gel litter. It can make the difference between a sick kitty and a happy, healthy one.

Is your kitty struggling with litter box issues? Let us know what questions you have and we'll do our best to answer them.


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