close up of a grey tabby cat eating a saucer of chunky wet food

Can Wet Food Give Cats Diarrhea?

Can wet cat food give cats diarrhea? The answer is yes and no! Wet cat food does not generally give a cat diarrhea simply because it is wet. A cat might get diarrhea after changing to a wet food diet suddenly or due to food intolerance from ingredients within a specific recipe or brand of wet food – but this would be the same for any type of food, dry or wet. 

Let’s look at the common causes of diarrhea in cats, define what is a bad case, when to seek treatments and what type of treatment might be required.

Common Causes Of Diarrhea In Cats

Diarrhea in cats is caused by a variety of issues and conditions, some more serious than others. Here are the common causes of diarrhea in cats who have just gone on a wet food diet leading to the belief that wet food has given your cat diarrhea and some of the more serious conditions that can cause diarrhea irrespective of diet.

Change Of Diet

Changing your cat’s diet from one brand to another, from one recipe to another, from dry to wet, or vice versa can affect your cat’s digestion and produce a mild and short-lived bout of diarrhea in some cases. 

It does not happen all the time, but if you have come here because your cat has just gone on wet food and has started to produce runny poop then this is the most likely cause. 

A more gradual change should sort things out. Try mixing dry food with wet and altering the proportions of the new wet food introduced to your cat in a meal initially until their system is used to the new food. 

a profile shot of a cat sitting in a blue litter tray

Food Intolerances

Intolerances to ingredients within foods are another common cause of diarrhea in cats. Food intolerance can show up immediately or build up over time until the cat develops a problem every time its gut comes into contact with the ingredient.

Often carbohydrate ingredients in both wet and dry cat food can cause a reaction in cats – this is believed to be due to cats’ guts not really being evolved to process carbohydrates in large amounts. Usually, wet food has way less carb content than dry food so you are more likely to encounter a carbohydrate intolerance if your cat is eating dry food.

A cat eating wet food may have an intolerance to rich, red, fatty meats like beef or develop issues if eating too much fish.  

Simply changing out the brand, recipe or flavor can often overcome issues related to intolerance.


Worms and gut parasites are a leading cause of diarrhea in cats. They live in the cat’s gut and irritate the gut causing runny poop issues!

The most common worms and parasites that cats pick up tend to be roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, giardia, and coccidia. 

These can be picked up by eating infected prey, scavenging, grooming coats after being outdoors, drinking from puddles and rainwater receptacles, eating vegetation outdoors, and even from eggs brought into the home on occupant’s feet – so even indoor cats can be at risk.

Regular deworming treatment from your local vet should help avoid issues arising from these agents.

dish of cooked chicken bones
Foreign Object Territory!

Foreign Object

Cats are curious and playful. This can often lead to the ingestion of things that they really shouldn’t be eating – like pieces of wool, string, paper, rubber bands, small toys – you name it! The problem is that such foreign objects can cause gut irritation and issues. Vomiting and loose stools are common symptoms in cats who have eaten an object they shouldn’t have!

Spoiled Food – Potential Gut Infection

If you have switched your cat’s diet or changed brand and your cat has suddenly got diarrhea have you checked to make sure the food is in date? Have you put wet food out like dry food – expecting the food to be good for numerous hours? 

In these instances, the food may have spoiled. If your cat has eaten spoiled food then it may have got a bacterial infection like salmonella, botulism, or e.coli. All these are very serious infections and need veterinary help to rectify.

Other Serious Causes Of Diarrhea In Cats.

If you give your cat wet food and they suddenly seem to develop diarrhea then it is likely that it is caused by one of the issues mentioned already. But, there are other, less common, more serious causes of diarrhea that should be considered that are unlikely to be directly related to suddenly eating wet cat food. 

Diarrhea can also be caused by pancreatitis, a virus – such as feline parvo or FIV, irritable bowel disease, poisoning, liver disease, kidney disease, and cancer.

close up of a cat eating chunky wet cat food from a purple bowl

When To Be Concerned By A Bout Of Feline Diarrhea.

It is not unusual for cats to get a passing, minor case of diarrhea that will sort itself out over a few hours. However, sometimes it can be more serious.

Generally speaking, if a bout of diarrhea goes on for more than 24 hours you should seek veterinary treatment. 

If the bout of diarrhea includes vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain then this is far more serious and requires immediate veterinarian treatment.

Is Treatment Necessary?

In severe cases or if left untreated for too long, dehydration may occur due to the fluid losses and that is very dangerous for the cat.  Untreated dehydration that is allowed to progress can lead to organ failure, seizures, and death. 

What Are The Treatment Options?

For mild bouts of diarrhea that are not accompanied by any other symptoms, you can treat your cat at home by giving them small bland meals like plain boiled chicken, making lots of water available, and giving them rest and an opportunity to sleep it off. That should go some way to settling a cats upset stomach.

What you should not do is withhold food. This could actually make the situation worse for your cat.

For serious bouts of diarrhea that go on for more than 24 hours or in instances where your cat is suffering from other symptoms, a vet must treat your cat. 

Where your cat is just suffering diarrhea for an extended period of time the vet may provide kaolin or probiotics to reduce diarrhea. Antibiotics are not usually used simply for treating a bout of diarrhea, albeit serious.

cat having heart listened to by a vet with a stethascope

Where other symptoms are happening along with diarrhea, the vet will have to carry out a full examination, probably with accompanying blood and fecal testing, potentially with x-rays to rule out blockages and foreign objects, to identify the cause and successfully develop a treatment plan for your cat. In the first instance, the vet will be able to put your cat on a drip and stabilize your cat if things are really serious.

Final Thoughts – Can Wet Food Give Cats Diarrhea?

Can wet food give cats diarrhea? If you have given your cat some wet food and they have developed a mild bout of diarrhea it is unlikely that the wet food itself has caused diarrhea and more likely that the sudden change in diet has mildly, and temporarily, irritated their gut.

With any change in a cat’s diet, it is always best to introduce the new food slowly in steps. This is likely to result in the cat accepting the change, rather than turning its nose up at new food and avoiding upsetting the stomach by too much change in food types.