Spotting blood in cat stool can be alarming for any cat parent. This is usually indicative of various cat health issues. These range from minor intestinal upsets to more serious health conditions such as cancer. There may be no other symptoms, depending on the underlying cause. Continue reading to find out what causes bloody stool in cats as well as effective treatments.
What Does Blood In Cat Stool Look Like?
Normal cat poops are tan to brown in color and well formed. It is not uncommon for the stool to have some blood in it when an underlying factor is involved. The blood may be light (a slight speck) or heavy. The actual color of the blood will fall into one of the following two categories, depending on the underlying cause:
- Bright red blood in cat stool: If the blood has its origin in the lower intestinal tract (colon or rectal area), it is typically bright red or pink in color. It may occur as specks or throughout the cat’s stool. The term Hematochezia is used to describe the occurrence of bright red blood in feces.
- Dark blood in cat stool: Dark, tarry black poop is usually spotted when bleeding occurs higher in the intestinal tract. The term melena is used to describe this condition. The esophagus, stomach, and duodenum are common spots for this type of bleeding but the mouth and nose can as well be involved. As the blood passes through the small intestines, it is partially digested by digestive enzymes. As a result, it loses the natural bright red color.
What Causes Blood In Cat Stool?
There are many potential causative factors for bloody stool in cats, some of which include:
Intestinal parasites including giardia (a microscopic parasite), Cryptosporidium, and worms such as hookworm, roundworms, and tapeworms are among the leading causes of blood in cat stool. This is especially true for kittens.
Cryptosporidium for example triggers inflammation which culminate in bleeding. Worms on the other hand suck blood from the wall of the intestinal tract, thus causing blood in the poop of the affected cat.
Fecal exams is used to diagnose the presence of hookworms and roundworms but will not show up tapeworms. For tapeworms, you might be able to spot small rice-grain-like eggs in the cat’s fur.
Your veterinarian will recommend the appropriate deworming and parasite treatment after the diagnosis. It is also advisable to start deworming your cat regularly if you have not.
Bloody cat poop can also be an indication that your cat is having difficulty with bowel movement. The hard, dry stool associated with constipation often causes irritation and minor tears in the large intestine and rectal area.
Constipation is not a cause for concern provided it clears within a day or so. If not, or if the volume of blood increases, see a vet immediately.
Feline diarrhea is sometimes associated with bright red blood in soft, loose, or watery stool. The stool may also appear darker or lighter than usual or have excess mucus (gooey stool).
Other symptoms of feline diarrhea include increased volume of feces and frequency of bowel movement. Some cats will also vomit, lose appetite, or get lethargic.
Feline diarrhea puts your cat at risk of dehydration. It should thus not be ignored if it lasts more than a few days or is accompanied by other symptoms such as blood. It is worth making a trip to your vet if you spot bloody diarrhea, more so if there is a large volume of the blood.
Feline diarrhea treatment usually includes supportive care such IV fluid administration to combat dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications may also be given.
Fresh looking (bright red) blood in cat stool can also signify a bacterial infection involving Salmonella or Escherichia coli (e.coli). Such infections make the colon inflamed, a condition known as colitis, often leading to bleeding. This manifest in bloody cat poop. Antibiotics are usually used to treat bacterial infections.
Dietary Intolerance, Allergies, and Irritation
Did you spot blood in cat stool a while after introducing your cat to new food. Chances are that your cat is intolerant or allergic to that particular type of food. Such food may put strain on your cat’s intestines, leading to bleeding. Some cats for example are intolerant to the lactose in milk.
If a food intolerance or allergy is suspected, your vet will put your cat on a special prescription diet. The diet will eliminate the possible culprits by feeding the cat foods that it has not been previously exposed to e.g. duck.
If the symptoms of allergy go away, your feline friend will then be put on the “suspect” food to see if the allergy return. In case that happens, which essentially ascertain that the food is indeed responsible for the allergy, your cat will then have to switch to a new brand of food.
Cats may consume hard objects the likes of bones and hair. When that happens, the lining of the colon gets irritated, often culminating in bloody cat poop.
Blood in the stool of a cat can also be indicative of poison ingestion. Most mouse and rat poisons contain toxins (e.g. Warfarin) that work by triggering continuous bleeding. They are likely to trigger the same effect in cats when ingested.
When taken in adequate amounts, your cat will often get depressed as well. If you suspect a case of poisoning, make a trip to the vet immediately.
Bright red blood in cat stool can also be an indication of bleeding in the lower large intestines and rectum caused by malignant growth (tumors).
Although any cat at any age can get cancer, it tends to appear more commonly in elderly cats. In addition to bloody poop, other symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea can be present.
Treatment of cancer in cats usually involves surgery to remove the tumors, but other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and medication may be used as your vet deems appropriate.
A trauma to the anal region could be the underlying cause for bright red poop in cats. This is especially true of outdoor cats, who could have been injured during a fight or broken her pelvis bone. Trauma could also occur during enema or a medical examination such as probing.
Anal Sacs Problems
Cats have a pair of sacs on either side of the anus. When a cat passes bowels, the glands give off a thick, offensive-smelling substance. Often times, these glands become inflamed or impacted. This culminates in infection and swelling, along with itchiness.
You should suspect anal sacs inflammation if you notice blood in cat stool along with frequent rubbing of the hindquarters (on the ground).
Treatment of impacted anal sacs involves surgical drainage along with antibiotics. If the problem recurs, your veterinarian may resolve to surgical removal of the anal glands.
Polyps are benign or non-cancerous growths. They can occur in cat’s rectum, colon, or anus. When they do, they often cause bright red blood in cat stool. Surgical removal is usually required.