Can Nerves Cause Persistent Diarrhea in Cats?

Anxiety affects your cat in mental and physical ways.
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Nerves can do a number on anyone's bathroom habits, and your cat is just as susceptible to the unpleasant effects. Stress can send your kitty running for the litter box, if you're lucky, to leave the occasional messy puddle of poo behind. Long-term diarrhea may have a different cause.

Anxiety Symptoms

Your happy-go-lucky kitty may not be as happy as he would otherwise seem. Cats experience stress and anxiety just like you do, although not for the same reasons. Changes in routine or to the household may unnerve your kitty, causing him stress and changes in his behavior. Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive grooming, a change in their bathroom habits -- such as peeing or pooping outside the litter box -- or bouts of diarrhea. Some cats are simply more prone to anxiety than others, which can cause longer-lasting effects.

Chronic Diarrhea Causes

Occasional bouts of diarrhea aren't necessarily cause for alarm, as even your cat can pick up a tummy bug that keeps him close to his litter box for a few days. Long-term or chronic diarrhea isn't usually as innocent, and typically has a medical cause such as a food allergy or gastrointestinal disease. Various medical conditions can cause chronic diarrhea until the underlying issue is controlled, such as liver or kidney disease and hyperthyroidism.

Crossing Paths

In a nutshell, anxiety can cause diarrhea, but chronic diarrhea typically stems from a larger medical issue. On the surface this may seem to negate the connection between the two, but cases of extreme anxiety can cause gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel disease. This, in turn, can cause bouts of persistent diarrhea. So, in a roundabout way, anxiety can cause chronic diarrhea by creating a medical condition that offers diarrhea as a symptom.


So your kitty is a fluffy bundle of nerves who's leaving wet puddles of poop behind. Healing his gut means calming him down. See your veterinarian to diagnose any other underlying health issues and develop a treatment plan for the physical aspect of the condition. But medical treatment will only go so far, and you need to work on ways to encourage your cat to chillax. Offer him some extra snuggle time and make sure he's got plenty of toys to keep himself occupied. Synthetic calming pheromone products such as Feliway help promote relaxation. Removing him from whatever upsets him most, such as interaction with a certain pet or family member, can also help.

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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