You have come to the right place after you panicked seeing blood in cat stool. The good thing is that you were able to catch it, responsible cat parent! But now, how worried should you be? And should you visit a veterinarian? Read on and let us help you and your cat to get through this situation.
Blood in cat stool is formally called hematochezia or melena. The blood is either mixed throughout the stool, at the stool’s end, or in severe cases, in the whole stool. It is called hematochezia if it’s bright red blood from the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The lower GI tract consists of the colon, rectum, and anus.
Melena is when the blood is dark-colored or tar-like. This digested blood is from the upper GI tract, which consists of the stomach and small intestine. It is called digested blood because it was partially digested by enzymes secreted in the small intestine. Between hematochezia and melena, melena usually requires urgent veterinary care.
Clinical Signs of Blood in Cat Stool
Before getting into the details of this condition, check if some of these signs align with what you have observed:
- There is fresh blood on or in the cat stool.
- Presence of a foul and metallic smell from the cat stool.
- There is dark-colored clotted blood on or in the cat stool, making them look like coffee granules.
- Your cat is straining or whining during bowel movements, specifically when trying to defecate.
- Evident masses or bumps are surrounding the cat’s anus.
- There is pus discharging from the cat’s anal glands or perineal skin, which is found below the anus.
- There are worms in the cat stool.
- Mucus in the cat stool.
Be warned that if your cat has already lost a lot of blood, you should immediately seek your veterinarian. Continuing, after seeing some of these signs, monitor your cat for 1-2 days for signs of illness, such as:
- Increase or loss of appetite
- Change in weight
- Unusual water intake and urination
- Changes in breathing
- Lethargy or extreme loss of energy
- Increased vocalization
- Changes in behavior
- Swelling in any part of the body
- Discharge from eyes, nose, or ears
- Difficulty in walking and jumping
- Over-grooming due to skin irritation which causes hair loss
- Dental problems such as bad breath and pale gums
If you observe some of these signs or see blood in your cat’s stool again, then visit your vet. To give you a perspective, Ernie Ward, D.V.M. explains the importance of seeking veterinary care, “Any changes in your cat’s bowel movements should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. Today’s constipation can become tomorrow’s intestinal obstruction. This morning’s loose stool can lead to dehydrating diarrhea overnight. He adds, “Digested dark blood can signal a serious condition while red blood can be anything from benign food changes to cancer.”
The causes of blood in cat stool can be divided into four categories: diseases of the stomach or intestine, diseases of the rectum or colon, diseases of the anus, and systemic disease.
Diseases of the stomach and small intestine (upper GI tract)
Gastrointestinal ulcers are open wounds formed in the stomach or intestinal lining due to stomach acid or digestive enzymes. It is uncommon in cats, but still, watch out for it as it usually shows no signs. And it can start sudden and deadly bleeding inside the digestive tract. Gastrointestinal ulcers are frequently caused by the following:
- Excessive use of non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs
- Helicobacter bacterial infection
- Stress from injury or surgery
- Obstruction of foreign objects
- Presence of intestinal parasites such as Giardia
- A symptom of other illness
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Gastritis and Enteritis
IBD is a condition where a cat’s GI tract becomes chronically irritated. The GI tract’s walls become inflamed, making it difficult to digest and absorb food properly. It is commonly seen in middle-aged to older cats due to a weakened immune system. IBD has different forms. If the stomach is inflamed, it is called gastritis. And if the small intestine is inflamed, it is called enteritis.
Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIE)
An infection causes FIE from the feline parvovirus. The virus quickly spreads through fecal-oral contact and contamination in the environment. Infected cats eventually experience gastroenteritis, which causes severe damage in the lining of their intestines.
Stomach or Intestinal Cancer
There are four types of stomach or intestinal cancer that are commonly seen: Leiomyosarcoma, Leiomyoma, Adenocarcinoma, and Lymphoma. However, these cancers are rare and usually observed in middle-aged to older cats (over six to ten years old).
Leiomyosarcoma is a cancerous tumor, which can spread along the GI tract or other organs. On the other hand, Leiomyoma is a non-cancerous tumor, but it can still cause some problems. Leiomyoma obstructs food and liquids from passing the GI tract and can sometimes displace other organs.
Adenocarcinoma is also like Leiomyosarcoma, but it is more common in male cats. Meanwhile, lymphoma can present as infiltration or as a mass in the GI tract. In this case, lymphoma either affects the function of the GI tract or causes obstruction, which can rupture its walls.
Diseases of the rectum or colon (lower GI tract)
IBD – Colitis
In this type, the colon is inflamed, so it is called colitis. Colitis usually makes the stool loose and runny with blood. Inflammatory bowel diseases like these are usually caused by stress and anxiety in cats.
If a cat has been releasing soft stools, these irritate the lining of their lower GI tract. This irritation eventually causes bleeding, which appears in their stool. Diarrhea is often a result of stress, food intolerance, foreign matter, infections, and other diseases.
If a cat has been releasing hard and small stools, they have probably been straining to defecate. If the situation persists, it may rupture the blood vessels in their lower GI tract leading to blood in the stool. Constipation is typically caused by dehydration or megacolon, where there is a build-up of stool in the colon.
Constipation can usually be treated at home by feeding your cats with something that helps in stool passage. You can give a teaspoon of pumpkin or cod liver oil or a dose of commercial paraffin-based cat laxative. However, if straining and bleeding persist after doing home remedies, it is time to visit the vet.
These non-cancerous growths are generally identified as polyps, cysts, or tumors. Benign growths are abnormalities protruding from the walls of the rectum or colon. They are harmful when they multiply, making it painful for stool to pass, and bleeding occurs in the walls.
The highly infectious bacteria, Campylobacter causes this infection. Be careful because these bacteria can also infect humans. Campylobacter is commonly seen in the lower GI tract, but it also reaches the intestines. In this case, the bleeding is caused by diarrhea.
If a cat regularly goes outside, they are at a high risk of ingesting parasites. These parasites may be hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, cryptosporidia, or coccidia. Similar to infections, the bleeding is generally caused by diarrhea.
Diseases of the anus
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
If you do not only see blood in cat stools but also around the litter box, the blood might also be in their urine. UTI occurs due to a bacterial infection that travels from the urethra to the bladder. This condition causes cats to strain while urinating, which eventually causes bleeding.
A male cat’s prostate is a small gland found near their urinary bladder. Having a prostate disease in cats is extremely rare, but the prostate gland enlarges if it does occur. This enlargement compresses and obstructs its surrounding organs, which makes bowel movement difficult for cats.
Anal Sac Disease
A cat’s anal sacs are also known as the anal glands in the rectal area. These produce dark and smelly fluids that help cats mark their territory. They can become clogged, infected, or abscessed, which can cause bleeding in the stools. They are quickly inspected when they are swollen or when the cat seems to be struggling to scratch them.
An injury from an accident in the anal or rectal area may result in bleeding. This injury may cause a fistula or tear that makes defecating painful for the cat.
An example of this is a congenital clotting disorder where proteins cannot adhere to platelets into injured blood vessels. With this, abnormal or unexpected bleeding can make its way through the cat’s excrements.
Although cats are known to be picky eaters, they can still be exposed to toxins. Accidental ingestion and inhalation of toxic substances can affect more than one body organ, which usually includes those in the GI tract.
Food Intolerance and Allergies
Food intolerance and allergies are very common to cats of all ages. It is a digestive issue, such that a cat lacks the enzyme to digest a particular food. Food intolerance can also result from IBD or stress. On the other hand, a food allergy can also be an immune system response. Both of them can cause diarrhea, which can lead to a bloody stool.
Blood in cat stool can also be linked to diseases in the liver or kidneys or intussusception in the small intestines. However, these are relatively rare compared to the ones listed above. If you still cannot determine the cause of blood in your cat’s stool, we recommend immediately consulting with your vet.
Home Remedies for Blood in Cat Stool
According to TB Thompson, D.V.M., “If your cat only has an occasional formed stool with a little blood and no other symptoms, it’s reasonable to try some changes at home first. If symptoms don’t improve after a month, see your veterinarian for help.” He adds, “If the symptoms get worse or new symptoms arise, take kitty to see his vet right away.” Now, we will share with you some home remedies that you can try.
Change The Diet
You can start by changing your cat’s diet. We recommend making a switch to a low residue or hypoallergenic diet. You can buy a commercial high fiber diet. Or better yet, create your own by adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon of bran or psyllium husk, or mashed pumpkin. Cat experts recommend feeding your cat canned or moist instead of dry food. You can also seek recommendations from your vet regarding this diet switch. While you are there, ask for a probiotic to give your cat once a day for a month.
Cats Mental Health
Next, let us deal with your cat’s mental health by reducing cat stressors at home. It is a must to provide a personal space for your cat. And if you have more cats, then each of them should also have their own spaces. You can also provide different cat furniture or toys for your cat to play around with. Also, schedule outdoor time with your cat because fresh air can undoubtedly uplift you and your cat’s mood!
Before we end this section, we would like to caution you regarding some issues you may encounter. Once you see blood in cat stool, immediately discontinue any anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or non-steroids, worsening the condition. Also, never use enemas which are not prescribed by your veterinarian. We usually try to fix the problem ourselves, but rash actions like these only endanger our cat.
How a Veterinarian Treats Blood in Cat Stool
Vets usually prefer that you have already collected the bloody stool and placed it in a plastic baggie. In this way, both of you can save some time and go straight ahead with the consultation. The vet will start with a medical history, accompanied by questions to help her make a diagnosis. These questions may include:
- Did your cat eat rotten or hard-to-digest food like bones?
- Have your cat received a recent diet change?
- Did you feed your cat people food? If yes, what are these?
- From your knowledge, did your cat experience trauma in the anal area? Common cat traumas include a blunt force trauma or a bite from another animal.
- Has your cat been dragging its rear along the floor?
Next, the vet will conduct a full physical examination, which commonly starts with a fecal assessment. In this stage, the stool sample is checked for parasites and bacterial overgrowth. This assessment is done unless you are already through your annual parasite screening.
Second, lab tests will be conducted to help the vet in creating a better diagnosis. These lab tests aim to examine your cat’s blood cells, organ function, and urinary tract. Some examples are as follows:
- Rectal Assessment
- Complete Blood Count
- Coagulation Profile Test
- Biochemical Profile Test
If these results are inconclusive, the vet may recommend additional lab tests. Your vet may request an abdominal radiograph or x-ray or ultrasound to provide a better view of the abdomen. Aside from that, there are also existing imaging techniques to have a more detailed look at the colon.
Other Measures for Blood in Cat Stool
Aside from these, the vet will also add specific measures depending on your cat’s state. If your vet suspects IBD, abdominal exploratory surgery or endoscopy is done to collect biopsy samples. The vet may also use balloon dilation if there are hard to access rectal and anal tubes, the vet may also use balloon dilation.
If the cat is dehydrated, the vet will incorporate intravenous fluids. Meanwhile, if the cat is anemic, your cat may need a blood transfusion. The vet may also use antibiotics, antiemetics, prokinetics, and pain killers to relieve your cat during these procedures somehow.
Only after conducting these tests will your vet finalize a diagnosis and propose a treatment course. In standard cases where no acute illness is found, the vet may prescribe the following:
- A new diet to relieve strain in the GI tract.
- Drugs to help in motility – the movement of food in the GI tract
- Fluid therapy to avoid dehydration and to kill an infection.
- Antibiotics for fighting off a bacterial infection.
- Deworming medication for managing internal parasites.
The average cost for treating blood in cat stool may range from $500 to $800. But, the medical expense may be higher for more complicated causes of blood in cat stool.
Prevention of Blood in Cat Stool
Continue to make it a habit to be mindful of your cat’s litter box and their behavior. If your cat has been experiencing abnormal bowel movements for a couple of days, contact your vet before blood starts to appear in their stool. Sadly, there are several cases where cat parents delay visiting the vet, hoping that the condition will resolve itself. And some of these cats become lost cases because they are already too late to help.
Also, closely monitor your cat’s eating habits. Any non-food items that make their way through your cat’s digestive tract can indeed cause blood in cat stool. It may be hard to notice, but these items also include excessive fur build-up if they start overgrooming. Moreover, always make sure that your cat has access to clean drinking water to avoid constipation issues.
We highly recommend that you start planning a sustainable and healthy lifestyle for your furbaby. Make sure to do regular visits to the vet to ensure your cat’s best condition.
We hope that you now have the information you need to deal with blood in cat stool. Your furbaby is undoubtedly lucky to have a loving and caring guardian like you. If you need further advice, The Furry Companion offers resources to guide you to be the best cat parent!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a normal cat stool look like?
A normal cat stool is two to three inches long and is one-half inch in diameter. It has a definite form, and its color is brown to tan. Aside from that, a normal stool is easy to collect and easy to pick up. It also should not have any disturbing odor.
Can worms cause blood in cat stool?
Yes, worms are a cause of blood in cat stool. Worms like hookworms will cause relatively mild infections that may lead to diarrhea and weight loss. However, a severe case of parasitism can cause anemia due to excessive loss of blood. Meanwhile, melena is blood in cat stools due to worms.
Can a cat eat if there is blood in the cat’s stool?
A cat with bloody stools accompanied by diarrhea should be on food fasting for at least 24 hours, and the water fasting should last for 12 hours. In this way, your cat’s digestive system can first process food that disrupts the GI tract; before dealing with new food.
Should I still worry if my cat is pooping bloody stool but is acting normal?
According to Michele K., D.V.M., “If he is bright and happy otherwise, and eating normally, it may be a bit of stress colitis. You can try feeding him a bland diet of boiled white chicken and boiled white rice for a few days, and see if that helps. If not, then you have your appointment next week, and they will be able to see what might be going on that is causing this.”
Why do female cats bleed?
Female cats have vaginal bleeding during their estrus cycle, but it is uncommon. The estrus cycle is where they are fertile, usually lasting from early spring to late fall. However, it is still customary to observe some light bleeding, especially when these cats become very demanding of attention. They howl and rub against objects or even you.
How do you comfort a sick cat?
You can comfort your sick cat by taking the following actions:
- Try not to project your fears onto your cat by staying calm.
- Check that the room temperature is not too cold or hot for your cat. If it is, make the necessary changes by providing some blankets or moving them under shade.
- Transfer your cat to a quiet and dim room where no one can disturb them.
- Make sure that your cat drinks enough water. If your cat cannot drink, give wet food.
- Regularly cleanse your cat’s eyes, nose, and ears to avoid getting them dirty.
How do I know if my cat is about to die?
You can determine if your cat is about to die by observing their appearance and odor. Cats are fond of grooming themselves. But when they start to weaken, they lose the will to do so. Without proper grooming, they look messy and develop a smell. The toxins building up in their damaged organs can also contribute to this foul odor.
What is coccidiosis in cats?
Coccidiosis is very common for kittens. It is a parasitic disease that can develop inside the intestinal tract of cats. Coccidia is a one-celled organism that causes this infection. It is one of the common parasites that cause diarrhea in cats. To prevent this, regularly clean your cat’s litter box and keep your cat indoors as much as possible.