How to Prevent and Soothe Your Kitten's Upset Stomach

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Kittens provide so much joy, but caring for them can be a lot of work. And if your kitten is experiencing signs of an upset stomach, this can add to the daily challenges — both for you and your cat.

Gastrointestinal (GI) issues have several potential causes, and kitten upset stomach remedies depend on variables like the underlying cause, your kitten's age and the severity of their condition. However, getting your kitten back to feeling their best usually isn't hard — it just takes some investigation and consultation with your veterinarian. Here's what you need to know to help address your kitten's upset stomach.

Signs Your Kitten Might Have an Upset Stomach

Several signs can indicate that something's not quite right with your kitten's digestion. Here are a few to look out for:


Diarrhea can range from loose stool in the litter box to accidents throughout the house.


Frequent (more than once a week) or consistent vomiting can be a sign of an underlying concern that needs attention.

Decreased Appetite

Sudden disinterest in eating or avoiding food entirely are both signs that something is amiss.

All of these signs warrant a phone call to your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. Kittens are especially vulnerable to illness due to their small size and developing immune system, so they can easily become dehydrated or undernourished without proper intervention.

Kitten at home

Causes of Upset Stomach

With kittens, the three most common causes of an upset stomach are parasites, gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) and dietary indiscretion (eating nonfood items or foods outside of their usual routine). And yes — some kittens can have two or even all of these at once.

Some of the more common intestinal parasites that can cause diarrhea and/or vomiting are:

  • Coccidia
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Giardia

Diagnosing Your Kitten's Upset Stomach

To determine whether your kitten has an intestinal parasite, your veterinarian will test a sample of their feces and prescribe treatment as appropriate. However, gastroenteritis and dietary indiscretion are harder to diagnose (kittens never confess to what silly thing they ate!). In a worst-case scenario, kittens can eat an object that causes a physical obstruction of the intestines, which requires surgery. Thankfully, this is less common than the other causes.

There's no test for gastroenteritis, so your veterinarian will make a presumptive diagnosis by ruling out other causes. Gastroenteritis can be caused by abruptly changing foods, feeding a new treat or human food that's irritating to the gut, or, in the case of stray kittens, eating whatever they can find (as well as other causes). If you adopt a formerly stray kitten, chances are their gut microbiome didn't get off to a great start, which can make them more prone to GI issues.

How to Prevent Tummy Aches

Keeping your kitten's tummy as happy as possible takes a few simple steps. Here's how to support your kitten's GI tract.

Change Food Gradually

If you need to switch your kitten's food, do it slowly over a week by gradually adding more new food to their old food each day.

Try Probiotics

Probiotics can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which helps kittens' digestive tracts, immune systems and overall whole-body health. Your veterinarian can recommend the best probiotic for your kitten.

Experiment With Different Foods

Expose your kitten to both dry and canned foods, and monitor which one they tolerate best. Consider a food supplemented with prebiotic fibers to feed the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Keep Regular Vet Visits

Regular veterinary visits and deworming can help keep your kitten healthy. The same goes for addressing an older cat's upset stomach, too.

Kitten being examined by a vet

Kitten Upset Stomach Remedies

The primary concern with any signs of a kitten's upset stomach is dehydration. The younger and smaller the kitten, the more quickly they can become dehydrated, so it's important to visit your veterinarian soon after noticing any signs. If the sign is diarrhea, bring a sample to your veterinarian visit for testing. If the sign is vomiting or low appetite, your veterinarian may recommend X-rays or blood tests to rule out certain causes, or they may be able to diagnose your kitten based on their specific signs of illness.

Depending on the cause and signs of your kitten's upset stomach, your veterinarian may recommend any of the following treatments:

  • Injections to help reduce nausea and vomiting
  • Fluids to treat dehydration
  • Medications to treat parasites
  • Probiotics to restore a compromised gut microbiome
  • Medications to firm up the stool
  • Other treatments based on the cause of the signs

Food for Healthy Digestion

Beyond these kitten upset stomach remedies, one of the simplest and most effective ways to maintain healthy digestion is food. Because a growing kitten requires specific nutrition, the best option is a complete and balanced food designed for kittens.

Foods can support a healthy microbiome and digestion while providing the correct balance of protein, calories and fat your growing kitten needs to thrive. Your veterinarian can suggest a variety of options to help your kitten, including dry and canned foods.

Getting on the Road to Recovery

Fortunately, the vast majority of kittens recover quickly and easily from tummy trouble with proper intervention. With your care, your veterinarian's expertise, and a combination of nutritional and veterinary treatment strategies, your kitten should be back to playing in no time.

Contributor Bio

Dr. Karen Louis

Dr. Karen Louis

Dr. Karen Louis was earning a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology and changed to a career in veterinary medicine. She graduated from the University of Illinois and has been in practice almost 20 years. She owns a small animal practice near St. Louis, MO, where she combines house calls with managing her unique low-stress clinic. A published author and award-winning nature photographer, she rescues senior dogs from local shelters and spoils them in their final years.