Can a Dirty Litter Box Cause Cat Diarrhea?

An immaculate litter box is the key to a happy kitty.
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Not many things are more frustrating than diarrhea in felines. Apart from the heartbreaking sight of seeing your fluffball sick, cleaning up bathroom accidents can be a nightmare -- especially outside of the litter box. Many different factors can cause kitty diarrhea, from food changes to medication reactions.

Dirty Litter Box

A dirty litter box won't cause your cat to have diarrhea, but it may be the reason why your cat has stopped using it in the first place. Cats are famously known for being naturally clean creatures, and they often turn their noses up at litter boxes that simply haven't been cleaned out enough. Don't forget -- your kitty has a much keener sense of smell than you do. It's not surprising she wouldn't want to be confined to an icky litter box. Even if a less-than-meticulous litter box won't bring upon an upset stomach in your pet, it may cause unfortunate and icky living-room carpet accidents -- ugh. Be safe and make sure to thoroughly clean out your cat's litter box at least once a day.

Dietary Issues

Once you've ruled out a yucky litter box, consider other factors that may be giving your kitty's tummy distress. Dietary factors are very common culprits behind feline diarrhea. Sudden diet changes can be hard on a cat's delicate digestive system, often resulting in watery stools. If you plan on feeding your cat a different brand of wet food, for example, make the switch in a slow, steady and gradual manner. No need to rush it and make your poor cat sick.

Cats are also unable to digest lactose, which means that dairy-based products are a big, diarrhea-causing no-no.

Your cat may have also eaten something spoiled by accident. Maybe you left a can of moistened chicken and tuna fish out for too long. Perhaps the mischievous one got into the trash and found a piece of chicken from days ago.

Also investigate the possibility of food intolerance in your feline, whether to eggs, fish or anything else. When a cat's body simply can't tolerate a certain type of food, diarrhea is one of the predominant symptoms.


Never hesitate to take your fluffball to the veterinarian once you notice uncomfortable diarrhea symptoms. Your pet's problem may not be something that a proper diet or flawlessly clean litter box can solve. Diarrhea is a symptom of a variety of medical conditions and issues, including inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial infection, tapeworms, kidney disease, liver disease, lymphoma or even hairballs. In some instances, diarrhea can also be a bad reaction to a medicine your cat may be taking. In any case, seek veterinary attention for your cat -- the sooner the better.

Emergency Symptoms

Be on the look out for potentially dangerous signs of feline diarrhea. If your cat is passing watery stools that are especially dark or that contain blood, seek emergency medical assistance for her as soon as possible. Also pay attention to other urgent signs, including reduced appetite, fever and unusual exhaustion.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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