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I've recently bought a kitten. She is now 3 months old, and I've had her for one month. The first week I had brought her home, I was only feeding dry food (Applaws kitten). I think she had mostly normal stool, but I didn't pay that much attention to it. It definitely was on the normal side, because I would have noticed otherwise.

I soon started giving her wet food. I had nothing to use for transition, so I just started by giving little wet food, and gave a bit more every day. Since I started giving her wet food, her stool has become soft. It's not diarrhea, but it's soft enough (and a light brown) that a tiny bit always keeps sticking to her rear. She has short hair, so it's not that poop sticks to her fur. The stool is just soft enough that her rear remains dirty. I have found poop stains on much of my furniture already.

I thought that maybe it's the wet food itself that causes this, so I eliminated it, feeding only dry food. After a week of feeding dry food only, it didn't get better, so I thought maybe it's the protein (chicken). I gave her other dry food for 3 days (rabbit and salmon). Earlier she used the litterbox, and when she walked past me, I instantly smelt that her bottom was dirty.

Earlier it occurred to me that maybe I'm just switching foods too fast? Is it necessary to have a transition period when switching dry foods as well? Should I even do that, considering she already has soft stool anyway? For how long should I feed the same specific food, before it would affect her (and change her stool)? Is there a protein that many cats are allergic to? Or in other words, is there a protein that is especially recommended for cats with allergies?

Long story short, I can't seem to find the reason for her soft stool. What is the best way to find the source?

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You're absolutely changing her food too fast. The recommended period of time to transition a cat's food is 1-2 weeks; swapping too fast causes gastric distress and soft stools. Hill's (a pet food manufacturer) has a guide on how to change your cat's food food; as your kitten likely is a little extra sensitive from all the changes, I'd recommend slowing the process to two weeks with her.

Because of how frequently you've been changing her food, it may take some additional time to undo the gastric distress. Give her time for her digestive system to actually settle into a food; three days (and especially after a fast change) is not nearly long enough for any effect.

Wet food does not cause soft stools. Cats are optimized to get their moisture from their food, and wet food is ideally suited for this; take a look at the answers to this question for more information on how cats benefit from the moisture in wet food.

Protein allergies and sensitivities can cause issues, but they are much less common and less likely to be the cause of your current problem; distress from fast switches is a very common source of soft stools, and the most common answer should always be what you try first.

Lastly, if you have not taken the kitten to a vet, please do so right away so you and she can establish a relationship and a medical history. The vet can also advise you on how to properly handle feeding, test for parasites (another common reason for soft stools), and start her vaccinations. The vet should also be your first resource for further stool issues after you get her onto a stable diet.

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    For some reason i had the impression the transitioning guidelines would not apply to dry food, i'm not quite sure why. As i've been switching foods so frequently, i guess there isn't really a gradual transition i can do anymore. I will go and buy applaws tomorrow, and feed that for 2 weeks and see how her stool looks then. If it's good, i'll gradually introduce wet food again. Maybe the first time i did it, i just did it too fast (i gave her a little the first day, by the 3rd or 4th day i gave her a full portion already). I have visited the vet, she is in good health and dewormed. Thanks :) – SomeNewKitten Sep 28 at 21:01
  • Glad to hear she's been to the vet; you'll still likely want to give them a call for some consult over her current situation. Be honest with the food options and frequency of changes, and keep the vet apprised of the situation as well. It's a good way to be sure that you can be fit into the schedule if the issue doesn't resolve itself after moving back to a consistent food. Sounds like you and she were just too excited about the wet food the first time. :) – Allison C Sep 28 at 21:10
  • Yeah i guess so. I was at the vet last week and already told them the situation, although i didn't mention how frequently i changed the food. One thing that does confuse me. Once you have a cat on a specific food, do you just keep feeding her that food for a lifetime? So if you want to start feeding something else, you have to always go through the transition phase? And then, if you want to switch back to the old food -> transition phase? – SomeNewKitten Sep 28 at 21:51
  • Yes, ideally, you'll always do the transition phase. There may be times when you'll have to change faster (food stops being made, allergies/sensitivities, etc), but whenever possible there should be a transition phase for their food. There can be cases where it's easier to switch formulas within the same brand (i.e. kitten to adult formulas) and some cats are fine with multiple recipes (two of mine eat different recipes daily, the third can't). Because you can transition, it's always a good idea to buy more food before you run out, in case you need to. :) – Allison C Sep 29 at 13:50
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    I see. I definitely was not aware that cats tummies are that sensitive. Good to know :). I went out and bought applaws dry food for kitten today, as this was her first dry food i gave her and she seemed to do well on it. Once her stool gets back to normal, i'll slowly introduce her to wet food again. Thanks for all your help, really appreciated :) – SomeNewKitten Sep 29 at 17:58

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