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Blood in cat poop: causes and treatments (and when to act)

Ginger cat advice © Pixabay

If you see blood in your cat’s poop, don’t panic but do take it as a call to action. Blood in cat poop has a variety of causes.

By Nick Whittle

Blood in a cat’s poop (or in his diarrhoea) may point to a more serious health concern. Here we talk about how to recognise blood in your cat’s poop, what are the causes and what you can do about it.

Normally, no-one should have blood in their faeces. However, it sometimes happens that a bout of constipation or a food allergy irritates the mucosal lining of the intestine to such an extent that it bleeds a little.

The trick to knowing whether the appearance of blood points to a benign or sinister reason is in its appearance (of the different types of blood show we will look at in a moment). Be supportive and patient with your cat if there is blood in his poop. He may be very poorly.

What to look out for?

If the blood you see is bright red your cat may have a small tear near his back-end, or the problem may originate in the lower part of his gut, which is called the large intestine. Blood that is soon passed remains reasonably untouched by the processes within the gut and therefore emerges looking recognisable as blood.

Blood that is dark or black and resembles coffee grains originates in the small intestine, which is further up towards the stomach. It is turned from red to black because it has begun to be digested by the body’s enzymes and has had water removed from it by the action of the bowel.

On a basic level if the blood in your cat’s poop is bright red then the problem may be a tear caused by something like constipation, worms or an inflammation of the bowel. If the blood is black the problem may be more serious because your cat’s internal bleeding is due to something more complex.

Blood in kitten poop

If you observe blood in your kitten’s bowel movements you should contact your vet straight away and avoid trying to find a remedy. Kittens are not resilient to problems with their guts and a loss of blood or fluids no matter how small could have a lasting impact on your kitten's health. It is also more likely that a kitten will pick something up and eat it; if it is big enough it can cause an obstruction of the bowel.

What causes blood in cat poop?

Sometimes you may be able to guess why your cat has blood in his poop. But unless you are well-versed in reading the signs of an internal problem you may not. Besides which, a minor ailment such as diarrhoea could be the result of a far more serious illness which you may struggle to diagnose.

Let is look at 5 factors that can bring about blood in the poop of a cat or kitten:

1 Constipation

Constipation is the slowing down or complete halting of the passage of poop through a cat’s intestine. It is due mainly to dehydration but can be due to several other conditions including hormonal imbalances and obesity. More commonly the cat’s attempt to pass a dry and hard poop is what causes small tears in the rectum, which then bleeds. If your cat is exhibiting other symptoms [See article on CONSTIPATION] you should seek veterinary assistance.

2 Trauma

A deep wound or wound around the external part of your cat’s bowel at the anus can cause blood to appear in his poop. He may have been in a fight, he may even have been in contact with a car or bicycle but shows no external injuries. If the blood in his poop appears quite suddenly it could be a sign of an internal rupture. This kind of injury needs urgent medical attention.

3 Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IDM is an umbrella term for any inflammation of the intestine. Dogs, cats and people suffer with IBD. IBD is thought to be caused by either a food allergy or an overgrowth of bacteria in the bowel. Blood will sometimes be present in the poop of an animal with IBD, but not always.

Accompanying symptoms of IBD include vomiting and diarrhoea, depression, loss of appetite and weight loss. IBD cannot be cured but its symptoms can be alleviated. Colitis is a type of IBD which can come on sporadically and cause the same symptoms.

4 Intestinal parasites (worms)

In the UK, roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms are the commonest parasites found in a cat’s intestine. Parasites make a living from the nutrients and minerals in the cat’s gut. Over millions of years they have come to depend on a host animal for their survival. Some worms feed on the content of the gut but some feed on the lining of the intestine and it is these that will cause your cat to poop blood.

5 Food Intolerance

Despite appearances and being part of the noble blood line of the big cats, domesticated cats are fussy eaters. Any change to their diet can cause them to have an upset stomach, and eating the wrong kind of thing (including human food) will do the same.

It is unusual for a cat to scavenge like a dog does but not unheard of, and if the food they pick up is contaminated they will suffer with vomiting and diarrhoea, and the diarrhoea may contain blood. Food intolerances and allergies are one of the major causes of a cat’s bad tummy.

To find blood in your cat’s poop is not unusual. But care should be taken to discover the cause of the blood and sometimes this cannot be done without the help of a vet. Once the cause is known treatment can begin, but very often treatment of a cat with blood in his poop is no more complicated than improving his diet and drinking habits. If there is lots of blood for a long period of time and accompanying symptoms such as lethargy and pain you should waste no time and have him treated medically.