do cats get stomach flu

If you see a bloated cat belly when you pet your feline friend, or a cat vomiting and diarrhea, you’ll know that the answer to “Can cats get stomach flu?” is yes. Cats can have gastroenteritis symptoms from many causes. Life-threatening illnesses or simply trying a new food often trigger gastroenteritis in cats.

What are the clinical signs of gastroenteritis?

The majority of cats suffering from gastroenteritis will experience sporadic bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. Particularly after the stomach is empty, foamy, yellowish bile may be seen in the vomit. After their cat eats or drinks, many owners notice dry heaving or gagging. Usually, large amounts of diarrhea will be produced multiple times per day. The diarrhea may have the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Many cats will show discomfort when touched in the abdomen or will not allow their stomach or hindquarters to be handled. The majority of cats with gastroenteritis will appear lethargic, have less appetite, and maybe hide. A low-grade fever is also common. In the event that the vomiting and diarrhea last longer than 24 hours, dehydration may happen rapidly.

How is gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Since gastroenteritis is an exclusion diagnosis, your veterinarian must rule out or exclude any other potential causes. The first step in determining the cause of the lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea is obtaining a thorough medical history. Some critical information in your cat’s medical history includes:

  • All the food and liquids your cat consumed in the previous 48 hours
  • Any new foods, treats, or rewards
  • Recent exposure to pesticides, medications, cleaning agents, or similar materials
  • Recent exposure to a new animal or person
  • Past instances of diarrhoea and vomiting (along with the cause and management)
  • Any illness within the past month
  • Any chronic illnesses that your cat may have
  • Any medications, vitamins, or supplements given within the past month

Before your appointment, your veterinary health team might ask you to fill out a questionnaire. For an example, refer to the “Diarrhea Questionnaire and Checklist for Cats” handout.

Following the acquisition of the medical history, your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination. Your veterinarian will check for any physical abnormalities such as swellings, gas or bloating in the abdomen, tenderness, pain, or dehydration. Along with other vital signs (heart and respiratory rates), your cat’s temperature will be monitored.

At this stage, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing, including:

  • Complete blood cell count (CBC): this test shows whether an infection, anemia, or dehydration is present.
  • Electrolyte imbalances and abnormalities of the organ systems caused by vomiting and diarrhea can be detected by serum chemistries and electrolytes.
  • Fecal test – detects intestinal parasites (e.g., roundworm, hookworm, giardia)
  • Urinalysis: identifies diabetes, kidney disease, dehydration, and urinary tract infections
  • X-rays of the abdomen are used to look for anomalies such as obstructions in the stomach or intestines.
  • Abdominal ultrasonography looks for abnormalities such as certain cancers or obstructions in the intestines.

Which tests your veterinarian decides to perform will depend on your cat’s medical history, physical examination, and the intensity and duration of his symptoms.

Cat Gastroenteritis Treatments

The course of treatment for feline gastroenteritis is determined by the etiology and severity of the illness. Antiemetics, which are drugs for nausea and vomiting, probiotics to help heal the gut flora, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief, antidiarrheals for diarrhea, and fluid therapy to avoid dehydration are among the medications your veterinarian may recommend.

In the event that an infection was the cause of the gastroenteritis, your veterinarian might recommend taking antifungal, antiparasitic, or antibiotic drugs. Even if your symptoms go away quickly, always take the prescribed amount of medication as directed by your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet designed to treat gastroenteritis. In case your veterinarian suspects that your cat’s illness could be caused by a food allergy, she might suggest a hypoallergenic diet for them.

Your cat might require surgery if a blockage is the cause of their gastroenteritis. Ingesting string can lead to linear foreign bodies, which can be particularly dangerous for cats. Keep an eye out for any signs that your cats may have consumed something other than food.

Even though it could be alluring to research at-home remedies for feline gastroenteritis online, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian before possibly doing more harm than good.


How long does a stomach bug last in cats?

Most cases of acute gastroenteritis improve rapidly after rehydration. Call your veterinarian if the vomiting and diarrhea do not improve significantly within 24-48 hours of treatment. Gastroenteritis is common in cats.

Can indoor cats get a stomach bug?

All cats can develop gastroenteritis, and there are a multitude of causes, ranging from introducing a new food too quickly to more serious conditions such as an underlying disease.

Can cat gastroenteritis go away on its own?

Mild gastroenteritis is common. Most cases are due to nothing more serious than eating something unusual or inappropriate. These mild cases resolve quickly on their own. In rare cases, gastroenteritis may be associated with a life-threatening condition such as GI blockage or poisoning.

What do you give a cat with an upset stomach?

Most vets recommend feeding your cat a bland diet—that may mean boiled chicken and rice or a small amount of pumpkin—while they have an upset stomach. The bland food helps settle their digestive tract, while the pumpkin (or pumpkin-based treats, like Nummy Tum-Tum) contain fiber that can help bulk up the stool.