What Does It Mean and What To Do If There’s Blood in Your Cat’s Stool

Blood in a cat’s stool is never a good thing but the causes range from minor to life-threatening. We spoke to vets and cat behavior experts to learn what it means when there’s blood in a cat’s stool and how cat owners should respond to the situation.

With all the time you spend digging around in your cat’s litter box, you’re pretty familiar with his bathroom habits by now. At least you should be. No one likes scooping poop, but you should be aware of what’s going on in your cat’s litter box because changes in bathroom habits are often an early indicator of potentially serious issues like stress, food allergies, or disease. 

More than simply monitoring how often your cat uses the litter box, you should be able to identify changes in the consistency of your cat’s stool. Occasional diarrhea is normal but if you notice blood in your cat’s stool you should take a closer look.

We consulted veterinarian Dr. Megan Teiber and cat behaviorist Nicole Van Andel on the subject of blood in a cat’s stool to learn what causes it and what you should do about it. Here’s what we learned.

What Does Bloody Stool Look Like? 

Blood is a pretty clear indicator that something is off with your cat, whether it’s in his stool, in his urine, or somewhere on his body. The tricky thing is that blood won’t always appear as the bright red liquid you’re used to seeing when it flows from a physical wound – especially in stool.

When it comes to blood in stool, the color may range from bright red to near-black. If the blood is still bright red, that means it’s fresh but blood that is black has already been partially or fully digested. Red blood typically originates in the lower intestinal tract or rectal region while black or brown blood originates from higher up in the digestive tract, often the small intestine. Black, tarry stools are generally related to much more serious issues than fresh red blood.

Bloody stool is sometimes accompanied by mucus, a natural secretion of the intestinal tract which helps lubricate the colon to facilitate the passage of stool. It’s normal to see a little mucus with your cat’s stool, but large volumes could be cause for concern.

What Causes It? 

Causes for bloody stool in cats range from stress to chronic disease. Dr. Megan Teiber notes that colitis – a general term for inflammation in the large intestine – is a common cause of bloody stool. She suggests that in cases of colitis, bloody stool may be accompanied by mucus, diarrhea, or straining to defecate.

Intestinal inflammation can be caused by intestinal parasites, sudden dietary changes, food allergies or intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, or infections in the gastrointestinal tract. It can also result from acute or chronic stress.

Cats are just as prone to stress as humans with many of the same causes. Significant changes to your cat’s environment or daily routine can cause stress and anxiety, as can seemingly minor things like a dog barking constantly next door or construction going on across the street. Aside from physical symptoms like bloody stool, stress often manifests with behavioral changes like hiding more often, eating or drinking less, increased aggression or agitation, and excessive vocalization.

Other potential causes of blood stool may include:



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