Bland Diet For Cats With Vomiting and Diarrhea

feeding cats a bland diet when sick

Your veterinarian may recommend your cat be put on a bland diet if he has had a recent bout of sickness affecting his gastrointestinal tract, has a medical condition which causes nausea, or needs an easily digestible food. The purpose of putting a cat on a bland diet is to allow the decrease peristalsis, the contraction of the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, and allow it to rest and heal before introducing more difficult to digest foods.

The amount of time your cat will be on this diet depends on the underlying cause.

If your cat is suffering from acute vomiting and/or diarrhea, your veterinarian may choose to fast your cat for up to 24 hours. In most cases, water will still be provided, but if your cat is dehydrated oral rehydration solutions may be given. Once feeding resumes, the cat is then placed on the bland diet.

What medical conditions may require a bland diet?

Most conditions in which the gastrointestinal tract is affected and needs to be rested. This includes vomiting and diarrhea, of which there are many causes. Other conditions may include:

  • After surgery
  • Pancreatitis
  • During chemotherapy
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Reflux

What is a bland diet?

There are a number of recommendations for bland diets, but the main goal is it should be soft, easily digestible, low in fat and fibre, be made up of one type of protein. The purpose of a bland diet is to ensure continued nutrition while giving your cat’s gastrointestinal tract a chance to rest and heal.

Most of these recipes consist of a protein source and a carbohydrate. The ratio should be one part protein to two parts carb.

Bland diets may consist of:

  • Poached or steamed chicken breast alone.
  • Poached or steamed chicken or turkey mince with or without white rice.
  • Poached or steamed chicken breast with cooked white rice.
  • Low fat cottage cheese and cooked white rice.

If boiling, you can use plain water or low salt stock. Once cooked, place ingredients in a bowl and add a small amount of the water or stock to the mix to give it some moisture to make it more palatable.

It is better to feed small quantities more often. Three to four times is preferred. Large meals can upset the already delicate gastrointestinal tract.

Other treatment suggestions:

Pumpkin is high in fibre, however, this is soluble fibre, meaning that it absorbs water from the digestive tract, slowing down digestion and decreasing peristalsis which can be of benefit to cats with diarrhea.

It also contains potassium which cats lose when they have had a bout of vomiting or diarrhea. Poach or steam 1 cup of pumpkin, drain, and mash.

Slippery elm contains a mucilage (a gelatinous substance) which coats and soothes the intestinal tract. It also stimulates the production of mucus which can protect the gastrointestinal tract and stomach. Add 1 teaspoon per 2 kg (10 lbs) body weight to your cat’s food.

Probiotics can help to replace helpful bacteria which may have been lost.

When re-introducing your cat’s normal diet, do so slowly, over a period of several days. Mix a small amount of the old diet in with the current bland diet, gradually increasing the old diet and decreasing the new.

Several commercial varieties of food are available to cats on a bland diet. These include Science Diet I/D (intestinal diet), Royal Canin Intestinal HE (high energy). These come in dry or canned, it is usually better to feed the canned to replace fluids lost during sickness.

No other food sources or treats should be given to your cat while he is on a bland diet with the exception of probiotics which some veterinarians will recommend to help with gut bacteria. Always check with your veterinarian before giving anything to your cat while he is on a bland diet.

What not to do:

  • Do not leave dry food out for cats on a bland diet unless it is designed to be fed to cats during this period (wet food is better).
  • Do not fry or season food. The best way to cook is poaching or steaming.
  • Buy the leanest cuts of meat possible.

How long will my cat need to be on a bland diet?

Most cats will be on this diet until his stools return to normal. Usually a few days. This diet serves the purpose of resting the GI tract, but it is not completely balanced and should not be given for a long period of time.

My cat won’t eat the food given to him:

  • Some cats can be fussy to dietary changes, when feeding offering a band diet to a cat try giving it to him warmed up if possible, as this is more appetising than cold food.
  • Try a different type of food.
  • Baby food is another alternative. Make sure it doesn’t contain onion or garlic which are both toxic to cats.
  • If you have tried the above and your cat is still refusing to eat, see a
    veterinarian. A cat going without food can quickly develop hepatic lipidosis
    where the body breaks down fat to use as fuel. The liver is not very
    efficient at breaking down fat and can become overwhelmed. Hepatic lipidosis
    is a serious and life-threatening condition.

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