Why is There Blood in My Cat's Poop?

Ginger cat sitting in a litter box
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One of the simplest ways to keep track of your cat's health is by keeping an eye on her poop. That means observing the color, shape, consistency, frequency, and inclusions, such as worms, blood, or mucus, that occur in her daily elimination.

While scooping feces from the litter box on an everyday basis may be a tad unpleasant, it quickly becomes second nature and permits a peek into what normal poops look like for your cat. Poop, or lack thereof, and any change in pattern or output can alert you to a blockage, underlying illness, or quick-fix things like cat food intolerance.

Consequently, when your cat's poop has blood in it, don't panic, but do collect a fresh specimen and consult with your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Many health issues may cause blood in a cat's stool; fortunately, some are benign and remedied by a change in her diet.

What does normal cat poop look like?

You may wonder; what do Tootsie Rolls and cat poop have in common? Well, healthy cat feces are shaped like the iconic candy and sport a hue that resembles it as well. Thus it is the gold standard for cat poop. And once you familiarize yourself with what healthy versus unhealthy cat poop looks, and even feels like, you'll know when vet intervention is required. Here are the essential elements of "good" poop and indications that your cat's poop may be abnormal.

Characteristics of normal poop:

  • Varying from tan to dark brown and shaped like a Tootsie Roll—about 2-to-3 inches long, one-half inch in diameter, and well-formed—best describes the appearance of a healthy cat stool passed normally.
  • Like modeling clay, healthy cat poop is malleable; not too hard, not too soft. Don a pair of disposable gloves to test the malleability of your cat's poop.
  • Stools do smell, of course, but an overwhelming stench may indicate a health problem.

Characteristics of abnormal poop:

  • Very light-colored poop can indicate liver disease.
  • Small, hard balls of poop are a sign of constipation.
  • Soft, shapeless, liquid poop is a sign of diarrhea caused by bacterial infections, parasites, or food intolerance.
  • Blood or mucus in the poop may indicate illness.
  • Overly smelly poops warn of health issues.
Tabby cat sitting in a litter box and look to the camera.
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If you're in the examination and pre-vet diagnostic mode, check out the comprehensive guide, The Waltham Feces Scoring System featuring graphic, full-color photographs of stellar cat poop as compared to gnarly, nasty poo and get acquainted with technical terms like crumbly, bullet-like, viscous, and kickable. This fascinating pictorial alone can assist you in determining the quality of your feline friend's poop and whether you need to seek veterinary care, or not.

What does blood look like in a cat's poop?

While normal cat-poo color may be varying degrees of brown, it should never be too dark. Blood presents in stool as extremely dark brown or may even appear blackish when it correlates to an issue in the higher or upper intestinal tract, especially the small intestine. It could appear like coffee grounds or dark flecks or specks. On the other hand, blood may look, well, like blood and even be bright red if the problem originates in the lower intestine, particularly the distal colon or large intestine or rectal region.

What causes blood in cat poop?

Although it may be alarming to find blood in your cat's poop, one of multiple causes— some less serious— may be to blame. Here are some of the most common reasons for finding blood in your cat's poop:

  • Too quick a change in diet can result in food intolerance, which results in diarrhea with blood.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD.
  • Gastrointestinal parasites.
  • Infections.
  • Trauma or abscess.
  • Tumors and rectal polyps.
  • Abcess or infection of the anal gland.
  • Constipation_._
  • Poisons or toxins.
  • Cancer.
cat in litter box in bathroom
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What if there's mucus in my cat's poop?

Mucus gets a bad name for being slimy, slippery, and disgusting, but it's inspired legendary gelatinous masses called slime monsters and a whole industry around them. It's also a normal secretion of the intestinal tract of all animals that lubricates and moistens the lining of the intestinal tract to allow the smooth evacuation of stools from the body. Bottom line: it's not pretty, but it is normal, in most cases.

It's not in the least unusual to find a greasy or slick coating on your cat's stool, now and then. But it is abnormal to see an inordinate amount of slimy, clear, pale yellow-green mucus in your cat's poop. Seek veterinary care if mucus begins rearing its ugly head more often than before.

Conclusion

Seeing blood in your cat's poop is not normal, but its discovery may indicate minor rather than major problems. Only your veterinarian can assess the potential import of blood in your cat's poop and ultimately treat him. If you discover blood in your cat's poop, collect a sample and bring it in to your vet to get a diagnosis.