Cat Poop: The Medical Scoop
As cat owners, we know our cat’s personalities and habits pretty well. We know when they should be eating, how much they normally eat, and even the ins and out of their scooping their poop. Below is the medical scoop on cat poop!
So when our cat has a stool that seems unusual – rather it’s diarrhea, really hard and firm you see worms or even see a bit of blood, we tend to notice quickly and think the worst. There is a lot that can be learned from a cat’s stool, some of which you can start to understand on your own. While many conditions require help from a veterinarian, you can start to put together some of the story on your own from visual cues given when your cat has loose stools or when you see blood in the stool.
Fresh, Red Blood in Cat Stool (Hematochezia)
The presence of bright red, fresh blood in a cat’s poop is called hematochezia.
The presence of hematochezia may be a symptom of either a minor problem, or a potentially more serious problem in the animal. One occurrence of hematochezia may be a minor and transient event. Repeated or persistent hematochezia is more serious and should not be ignored. There are several possible causes. The most common cause in older pets is cancer and in younger pets are parasites.
This usually occurs with bleeding in the lower intestines (colon, rectum). Hematochezia should not be confused with melena, which is the passage of dark, tarry, black feces.
There are many potential causes of hematochezia. The most common causes are usually associated with the gastrointestinal tract, although in some cases, the cause is completely unrelated (e.g. clotting disorders or coagulopathies). It is important to determine the cause of hematochezia, as specific treatment is often necessary for these patients.
Learn more about the causes and treatment options at: Hematochezia in Cats.
Black, Tarry Blood in Cat Stool (Melena)
The presence of digested blood in a cat’s poop that appears black and tarry is called Melena. Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool, which is called hematochezia. Melena may represent a severe, life-threatening illness, and should not be ignored. It must especially be addressed if it persists or worsens.
Melena develops when bleeding occurs into the stomach or small intestines. Melena indicated digested blood so the bleeding comes from higher up in the gastrointestinal tract. The bleeding must be high in the intestinal tract in order for the blood to be digested and become discolored.
There are many potential causes for melena. The most common causes are usually diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that create ulcerations or cause bleeding into the tract. Swallowing blood such as from tooth trauma, ingestion of blood or bleeding from clotting abnormalities can also cause melena. It is important to determine a cause, as specific treatment is necessary to successfully treat patients with melena.
There are lots of treatment options and long-term health issues that your veterinarian should look into if your cat is showing signs of melena.
Learn more about the causes, what to watch for and treatment options at: Melena in Cats.
Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats
Diarrhea is commonly accompanied by vomiting in cats. Acute vomiting and diarrhea are characterized by a sudden onset and short duration of less than two to three weeks. Acute vomiting, a reflex act that results in the forceful ejection of gastric (stomach) and/or duodenal (intestinal) contents through the mouth, and diarrhea, an increase in fecal water content with an accompanying increase in the frequency, fluidity, or volume of bowel movements, are both extremely common in the cat.
An occasional bout of vomiting and diarrhea is quite common in cats however, severe, acute vomiting and diarrhea is not normal, and can be associated with life threatening illnesses. It can cause extreme fluid loss, acid-base imbalance, and electrolyte disturbance.
For more information go to Acute Vomiting in Cats. The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the recommendation of specific diagnostic tests. Important considerations include monitoring the duration and frequency of the vomiting. If your cat vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own. If the vomiting continues after your pet eats or if your pet acts lethargic, or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.
When Cat Vomiting and Diarrhea is an Emergency
If the vomiting and/or diarrhea continue after your cat eats, if your cat doesn’t want to eat or if your cat acts lethargic, medical attention is warranted. Please see your veterinarian.
When vomiting and diarrhea are an emergency for your cat is…if your cat is losing weight, if you see blood in the vomit or feces, or if your cat acts lethargic or if your cat won’t eat, this is an emergency.
If your cat is having the clinical signs mentioned above, expect your veterinarian to perform some diagnostic tests and to make treatment recommendations dependent upon the severity and the nature of the clinical signs. Depending on the age and specific symptoms- your vet may want to do radiographs (Xrays) or bloodwork (CBC and Profile) on your cat.
Home Care for Cat Vomiting and Diarrhea
For less severe bouts with diarrhea and/or vomiting, there are home remedies you can try. Go to: Home Care of the Cat with Vomiting and Diarrhea.
One of the key ways to combat it is to temporarily withhold your cat’s food, then prepare them for a bland diet. Most veterinarians recommend that you withhold food and water for a couple hours after vomiting or diarrhea. If there is no more trouble after that period of time, water can be started. Only offer small amounts at a time. If there is no vomiting or diarrhea of the water after 2 to 3 hours, then you can slowly begin the bland diet.
More Information on Abnormal Feces, Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats
Beyond the common topics addressed above, we have several more resource articles for you: