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Health & Wellness

How to tell if blood in your cat’s stool is cause for concern

Did you know that the color of a cat’s stool can say a lot about their health?

Cat parents can attest that cleaning the litter box isn’t a glamorous part of pet parenthood. But, the chore has benefits outside of keeping your home smelling fresh. It's a good time to track what’s normal and what's not when it comes to your pet's bathroom habits.

If you notice any bodily changes, like blood in their poop, you’ll know something is up. And while there can be several causes for blood in your cat’s stool — some more serious than others — it’s always worth investigating.

What causes blood in cat stool?

“Normal cat stool should be firm and brown, like a Tootsie Roll,” Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, Fetch’s on-staff vet, says. “Any change in that appearance — like blood — means something is wrong.”

The causes of blood in their stool can vary widely and might result from milder issues like stress, intestinal parasites or dietary intolerances. However, more serious causes can include intestinal inflammatory conditions or other underlying health problems.

And although worms aren’t a typical reason behind this change, some intestinal parasites, like giardia or coccidia, might cause blood to appear in their stool, Dr. Devitt adds.

What should you do if you notice blood in your cat's stool?

“Blood in a cat’s stool is never normal, but it isn’t always an emergency,” Dr. Devitt says.

Your cat's stool color can help you gauge if changes can be brought up at your next vet visit or if you should call your pet’s doctor immediately. Bright-or-light-red poop is usually an indicator of lower intestinal tract inflammation, which can be caused by stress, a change in diet or parasites.

Dark-red or black blood in poop means something more serious is going on and that your cat is likely struggling with an ulceration or blockage higher up in their intestinal tract, Dr. Devitt shares.

“Moreover, if your cat has diarrhea with blood, that warrants more immediate veterinary attention. If possible, save a stool sample in a plastic container so your veterinarian can have it tested for gastrointestinal parasites.”

RELATED: What to do if your dog or cat has a bloody nose

What does it mean if there’s blood in your cat’s stool, but they’re acting normal?

“Stool is an indicator of overall health,” Dr. Devitt explains. “Any change from normal stool means something isn’t right.” While the cause of any change in your cat’s stool could be minor, you can’t know for sure until you check with a professional.

If there’s only a small amount of blood and your cat is acting normally (like eating normally and has a happy demeanor and healthy-looking appearance), there’s probably no cause for concern. Monitor the situation over the next few days to see if the blood worsens and reach out to your vet with any questions you may have.

In the case more blood appears, becomes darker in color or if your cat starts showing concerning behavior (think: a reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy), you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Poop with mucus or poop that has a new unfamiliar smell should also signal that it's time to reach out to your veterinarian.

What can you do to treat blood in your cat's stool?

When in doubt, it’s best to visit the vet’s office. “A veterinarian may need to evaluate your cat’s overall health, run a fecal analysis or get blood work done to make sure there are no underlying health concerns that need to be addressed,” Dr. Devitt says.

“The treatment for blood in a cat's stool depends on the cause,” Dr. Devitt says. “If the reason behind the blood is stress, ensure your cat has safe places to relax. Dietary intolerances may be resolved with a vet-approved different food or by avoiding particular treats, and parasites can be eliminated with the appropriate medication.”

Regardless of your vet's recommended treatment plan, watch your pet closely while they're recovering and seek medical attention if the blood in your cat’s poop worsens or if they’re showing signs of sickness.

Are there home remedies for treating blood in cat stool?

Some cats benefit from eating probiotics like yogurt, which introduce beneficial bacteria into their gut. But make sure to check with your vet before offering some to your pet — sometimes, the snack does more harm than good, as most cats are lactose intolerant (beware of diarrhea). Picking the right brand is important, too, as some contain a toxic sugar substitute called xylitol.

Moreover, there are likely not enough bacteria in the yogurt you’d offer your cat to make much of a difference. “However, a mild case of colitis may be helped by added fiber,” Dr. Devitt says. “Either as a high-fiber diet or a little bit of pumpkin. But don’t reach for home remedies without first checking with your vet.”

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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