Why is my cat's poop black?: Black cat pooping

Cat poop is supposed to be brown so why is my cat's poop black?

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Why is my cat's poop black?

By Dr Holly Graham BVMedSci BVMBVS MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

All cats occasionally produce slightly different coloured poop, but if it's black or bloody, it could be a sign that your pet has melena.

If you've noticed your cat’s poop looks black in the litter box, it could be indicative of melena, a sign of internal bleeding in your pet. Melena typically arises from an underlying issue affecting your cat's health. 

In this post, we’ll look at the reasons why a cat has black stools and ways to address this issue for your cat’s well-being.

Why is my cat’s poop black?

The colour of a cat’s stool can be influenced by its diet, and certain foods may cause temporary colour changes. However, if you notice that your cat’s poop is black, it could be an indication of various health issues that require immediate veterinary attention.

Melena refers to black, tarry stools that are often foul-smelling and sticky. The dark colouration results from partially digested blood in the gastrointestinal tract. Melena is not a disease but rather a symptom of bleeding in the upper digestive system, typically in the stomach or the first part of the small intestine and should be investigated by a veterinarian.

Careful observation of your cat’s stools and monitoring for symptoms like diarrhoea or constipation will help your vet assess your cat’s overall health and recommend appropriate treatment.

What colour should a cat’s poop be?

A cat’s poop can vary in colour, influenced by factors such as diet, health, and hydration. Generally, a healthy cat’s normal stool is brown, reflecting the presence of bile in the digestive process. However, slight variations in shades of brown are normal. However, if you notice blood, mucous, pale or black stools, it’s important to get your cat checked over by a vet. Taking a stool sample with you to the appointment is a good idea.

Quality food, a well-balanced diet, ample water intake, and regular veterinary check-ups can help maintain your cat’s intestinal health. Pay attention to the colour, texture and frequency of your cat’s poo to ensure their overall well-being and enable you to address any potential health issues promptly.

What is melena in cats?

Melena is a term used to describe black, tarry poop. These stools may be firm or loose. This type of poop is abnormal. It can be caused by bleeding into the gastrointestinal tract, or if your cat has swallowed a large amount of blood from their mouth or respiratory tract.

What causes melena in cats?

Melena is a symptom, not a condition, and can be caused by many different things. Anything that causes bleeding into the GI or gastrointestinal tract, or swallowing large amounts of blood could cause this. Conditions that may cause melena include:

  • Gastric (stomach) ulcers
  • Tumours in the GI tract
  • Infectious disease (bacterial, viral or internal parasite infections)
  • Obstructions or foreign bodies in the GI tract
  • Toxicities (anticoagulants such as rat poison)
  • Trauma
  • Clotting disorders
  • Chronic kidney disease

If you think your cat has melena, speak to a vet as soon as possible, as many of these causes need urgent medical treatment.

What causes melena stools?

Lots of different problems can cause melena. Most involve either the gastrointestinal tract (stomach or intestines) or the respiratory tract. If there is bleeding somewhere in your cat’s mouth, nose, pharynx or larynx, your cat may swallow lots of blood, causing black, tarry stools. Any condition causing bleeding into the GI tract can cause melena.

How do you treat melena in cats?

To treat melena, a veterinarian will need to identify the cause by carrying out some tests. These may include blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound scans, or faecal samples. The treatment will depend on the findings of these tests, but the good news is that it's possible to treat many conditions that cause melena.

When should I go to the vet?

Seek veterinary advice immediately if you observe melena or dark stools in your cat's litter tray. The underlying causes can be severe and necessitate prompt treatment. If you notice blood, mucous or pale stools, this can be another sign your cat needs to see the vet. 

The occasional paler or odd-coloured stool can be nothing to worry about, but if this happens regularly or consistently, it could be a sign of illness. Factors such as diet, food, home environment, diarrhoea, constipation, and the overall well-being of the pet should also be considered.

It can be alarming to see your cat's stools looking black, and it may be nothing to worry about. However, with close monitoring and a thorough check-up with the vet, you can help keep your cat fit and healthy.

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