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Diarrhea is, unfortunately, a pretty common digestive issue that cats face. In fact, it’s the top reason owners take the cats to the vet, along with vomiting. But while diarrhea can indicate an underlying medical condition, occasionally your cat has diarrhea but seems fine. Indeed, soft stools can occur even when your cat is in good health.
Many owners are searching for the best home remedies for when this happens. And if you haven’t tried it already, you have to try pumpkin for cats with diarrhea. Canned pumpkin is inexpensive, high in essential vitamins and fiber, and helps harden stools as quickly as 24 hours!
To use, all you need to do is add a little canned pumpkin to regular cat food, and voila! Want to know more? I run through all the wonderful digestive benefits and other health perks of this incredible orange vegetable. Plus, I share some other home remedies for when your cat has runny poop all the time and you don’t have a pumpkin to hand.
Why Use Pumpkin for Cats with Diarrhea?
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have a meat diet that they need to survive. Most cat foods are made up of high protein sources, such as chicken, beef, and fish. As such, pumpkin might seem like a strange cure for kitties. This is not part of their usual diet, so how is this going to help cats with tummy troubles and runny stools?
However, it turns out pumpkins contain several nutrients that can give your cat’s digestive system the boost it needs! These are essential vitamins, a high fiber content, and zinc.
1. Great Source of Vitamins
One of the biggest perks of pumpkin is that it acts as a great source of two important vitamins: vitamins A and C. Most cats won’t be deficient in either of these vitamins if they are on a well-balanced diet. However, cats with diarrhea can struggle to absorb nutrients from their diet and might be deficient in these essential vitamins.
These two vitamins both have antioxidant properties and play a crucial role in the immune system. In some cases, diarrhea is caused by parasitic and pathogenic infections which your cat needs to fight off. Your vet will be able to prescribe treatment, but having a strong immune system will help your cat fight the infection faster.
2. High Fiber Content
The main reason pumpkin for cats with diarrhea is so effective is its extremely high fiber content. Now, fiber-rich foods are best known for helping with issues such as constipation. In other words, it is known to loosen stools. But hold up, isn’t that the opposite of what we are trying to do here?
You are right – we need our cat’s stools to harden not soften when they have diarrhea. But did you know fiber is great for this too? It is arguably the best nutrient for balanced digestion, ensuring stools neither get too hard nor too soft. Fiber keeps everything running as it should for overall good gut health and digestion.
This is all thanks to its water-absorbing properties. As undigested food passes through your cat’s intestines, the fiber will absorb water and fluids from around it. When your cat’s stools are already loose and watery, this can help solidify the stool by adding bulk to it.
3. Contains Zinc
Pumpkin also contains relatively high amounts of the mineral zinc, another substance that is critical to intestinal health. It plays an important role in supporting the intestinal barrier gut microbiome. Too little zinc can cause this microbiome to shift, resulting in intestinal inflammation and diarrhea.
By restoring the amount of zinc in your cat’s body by feeding them pumpkin, their gut health can return to normal. Like vitamin A and C, it also helps strengthen your cat’s immune system to fight off any diarrhea-causing infection. Combined, these should see a reduction in the number of loose, watery stools you’re dealing with after a few days of administration.
However, you can have too much of a good thing! When absorbed in large quantities, zinc is toxic to cats and will make their diarrhea worse. Thankfully, the pumpkin is still a safe option. It contains enough zinc to provide benefits, but too little to cause any harm.
How to Administer Pumpkin for Cats with Diarrhea?
Are you convinced of the benefits? Do you want to try pumpkin for cat diarrhea? In my option, as a cheap and readily available natural remedy, it is definitely worth a shot. I recommend speaking to your vet before making any dietary changes though, just to be on the safe side.
Assuming they’re happy for you to feed your cat pumpkin, follow these steps to administer it and start reaping the rewards in as little as 24 hours!
- Find Plain Canned Pumpkin: You can purchase pumpkin in many different forms, but to treat cat diarrhea it is best served in canned form. When in the grocery store, ensure you pick up plain pureed pumpkin rather than canned pumpkin pie filling. The latter contains high amounts of sugar and flavorings which will make your cat sick but stick to the plain variety to receive all the rewards with no risk.
- Mix Pumpkin With Cat Food: You then need to open the can of pumpkin and mix it with your cat’s regular food. Remember, pumpkin is just acting as a diet supplement. It is important to keep feeding your cat their regular food so they are getting all the essential nutrients they need. Plus, mixing the two can encourage your cat to eat it. Mix between 1 and 4 teaspoons with your cat’s regular food and feed this mix 1 or 2 times per day.
- Try Alternative Fiber Supplements: As we all know, cats can be extremely finicky eaters! Mixing pumpkin with their existing diet will help encourage them to eat it, but sometimes this isn’t enough. In this case, I recommend speaking to your vet for advice or trying one of the alternative home remedies I list further down in this article (spoiler alert: wheat bran, squash, and psyllium all do the job well).
After feeding your cat pumpkin, you should notice their stools start to firm up within 24 to 48 hours. Continue adding a little pumpkin to their diet until their poops have returned to normal consistency. Also, don’t be surprised if your cat’s poop smells so bad or is slightly orange. This is just the result of the pumpkin in the digestive system. Things will all return to normal soon!
On the off chance that feeding your cat pumpkin doesn’t work, call your vet. Chronic diarrhea can result in dehydration and malnourishment, thus making your cat suddenly lethargic and weak. There may also be an underlying condition causing their digestive issues that needs to be looked at and treated. For example, cats with worms will have normal stools only after deworming a cat.
Does Pumpkin Have Other Health Benefits?
Pumpkins are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that pumpkin packs far more benefits than simply hardening stools. Below are some of the other health benefits your cat will receive when you add this vegetable to its diet.
Pumpkin is great for cats with diarrhea, but it’s also beneficial for cats with constipation. This is mainly down to the extremely high fiber content and its water-absorbing abilities. By absorbing water as the undigested food passes through the intestines, it makes hard dry stools softer. This means they can be passed much more easily and without little pain
Moreover, the addition of water in the bowels helps the stools move and slide through the intestines more quickly, besides stimulating bowel movement. The faster material passes through the bowels, the less time there is for water to be absorbed. As such, this further contributes to the formation of healthy stools that are neither too soft nor too hard.
2. Weight Loss
Pumpkin is also brilliant for obese or overweight cats that need to shed a few extra pounds. Once again, this is mostly thanks to the fiber found inside this hearty veg. The fiber in the food attracts water and thus adds bulk and density to the diet. This can make cats feel more satisfied for longer so they won’t seek out more food as often.
By adding a little pumpkin to every meal over an extended period, this loss of appetite will lead to a gradual and healthy weight loss. This also explains why many diet cats foods contain high amounts of fiber – they’re promoting good digestive health and helping your cat feel fuller for longer.
3. Reduction of Hairballs
Do you have a long-haired cat that seems to always be coughing up hairballs? Guess what? Pumpkin can help with that too! Yet again, this is mostly thanks to the high fiber content of this food. The fiber helps grab onto bits of indigestible hair in the digestive tract and pull it into the stools ready to be eliminated from the body.
As with constipation, fiber also helps to stimulate bowel movements. Plus, the addition of water means the formed clumps of hair and undigested food slide through the bowels smoothly. In this way, any ingested hair can be eliminated through their stools rather than expelling it as a hairball.
4. Improved Skin & Coat
Pumpkin can also improve the appearance of your cat’s skin and coat. This is thanks to the good amount of zinc found in pumpkins. Just as zinc supports the barrier of the small intestine, it also helps to keep call walls in the skin stable. This promotes good skin health, plus its antioxidant properties can protect against inflammation and skin conditions.
Zinc also plays a vital role in hair growth and repair by keeping the hair follicles working properly. If your cat is getting plenty of zinc in its diet, it will have a shiny healthy coat for sure. The seeds of the pumpkin have the highest amount of zinc and can be fed to cats after roasting and grinding.
What Are the Risks of Pumpkin for Cats?
With so many benefits of feeding your cat pumpkin, are there any risks to be aware of? As it turns out, pumpkin for cat diarrhea is relatively safe! Even if you feed your cat a little too much pumpkin, it is unlikely they will get an upset stomach. It also won’t cause toxicity of any kind or any long-term damage to your cat.
If your cat’s diarrhea does get worse after feeding it pumpkin, simply reduce the amount you are putting in their cat food. Similarly, on the odd chance that your cat starts vomiting, administer your cat a teaspoon or half a teaspoon less in their next meal. All cats are different, and it might take a little while for you to find the optimum dosage for your cat.
With that being said, there are some definite no-nos to feeding pumpkin to cats. Many parts of the pumpkin don’t have enough nutrients to be beneficial or are too challenging for their digestive tract to handle. Yet steer clear of the below parts of a pumpkin and your cat should be fine:
- DON’T feed your cat the pumpkin stem. It is prickly and could hurt and damage your cat’s mouth or digestive tract as they try to eat it.
- DON’T feed your cat pumpkin skin. This part of the pumpkin is very tough and can be difficult for them to fully digest, leading to discomfort and nausea.
- DON’T feed your cat raw pumpkin. Like pumpkin skin, raw pumpkin takes a lot of work for your cat to digest and may cause digestive discomfort.
- DON’T feed your cat canned pumpkin pie filling. This contains sugar, spices, and other additives that might be harmful to your cat.
- DON’T feed your cat old Jack-O-Lanterns. These have had time to rot and might contain harmful pathogens that will make your cat sick.
- DON’T feed your cat out of date pumpkin. Most canned pumpkins will last for up to a week in the fridge, but be sure it chuck it away after this date.
Other Home Remedies for Cats with Diarrhea
Pumpkin is an excellent choice for cats with diarrhea. It’s known to settle their stomach, it is relatively risk-free, is cheap and easy to source, and is super simple to administer. Besides, pumpkin also carries with it many other health benefits for your furry friend.
But perhaps you can’t cat your hands on pumpkin puree. Or maybe your cat isn’t a fan. In these cases, you might want to try one of these other home remedies to soothe your cat’s stomach:
- Wheat Bran: Bran flakes are known for being extremely high in fiber, which is why many people choose to eat them. This fiber has the same benefits as the fiber found in pumpkins. Add half a teaspoon of wheat bran to your cat’s food for the same digestive benefits. It’s also great for treating hairballs and constipation!
- Psyllium: This is a form of fiber made from the husks of the Plantage Ovata plant seeds. It is actually a laxative and is mainly used to aid constipation. However, it works by absorbing water and adding bulk to stools in the same way that pumpkin does and promotes overall good digestive health. Thus, it’s great for diarrhea also.
- Butternut Squash: Squash is a great alternative if you can’t get your hands on canned pumpkin. It is very similar to pumpkin in many ways and contains nearly all the same nutrients. Simply roast plain butternut squash in the oven until it is soft and mash this into a pulp. Add 1-2 teaspoons of this to your cat’s food.
- Boiled Chicken: Another option is to take your cat off of its usual diet and feed them bland home-prepared meals, such as plain boiled chicken. But keep in mind cats should never be consuming cooked chicken bones. Many cats’ digestive systems will find this much easier to handle than their regular cat food. Plain boiled pasta and rice can also be added to bulk out the meals and add carbohydrates.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Pumpkin has proven to be a successful home remedy for cats with diarrhea. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and, most importantly, fiber, this big orange veggie promotes overall good digestive health. You should see their stools harden in as little as 24 hours, and their stools will continue to gradually return to normal in the following days.
While pumpkin is relatively risk-free, make sure you don’t feed your cat the stem or skin, flavored pumpkin, or pumpkin that is out-of-date. Good ol’ plain canned pumpkin puree works best! Add a few spoons to your cat’s food and start reaping the rewards.
Before making any changes to your cat’s diet though, do speak to your vet. And remember, diarrhea can be a symptom of many underlying medical conditions. If your cat has chronic diarrhea, other symptoms of illness or their symptoms aren’t improving, book an appointment for a checkup.