Bloody stools and other stool abnormalities can be an indicator of many different health issues. Learn what causes bloody stools, as well as when the problem appears serious enough to warrant a call to your vet.
Causes of Bloody Stools
It's not completely unusual for a cat to pass a bloody stool once in a while. Minor straining accompanied by a bit of bleeding may simply indicate a temporary case of constipation that has righted itself. However, if your cat frequently has blood in the feces or passes an extraordinary amount of blood, this could be an indicator of something more serious.
According to Vet Info.com, bloody stool in cats may indicate a number of conditions, including:
- Minor infections/infestations, such as parasites, bacteria, etc.
- Food intolerance/allergy
- Polyps (non-cancerous)
- Cancer in the lower bowels
- Ingestion of Warfarin (Rodent poison)
- Damage to the anus or lower bowel
- Blood clot disorders
- Bowel problems/obstructions/constipation
When to See Your Vet
Call your vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Bright red blood (more than a single time or more than a speck)
- Problems defecating, such as significant straining when trying to defecate
- Significant increase in number of times cat defecates each day
Additional Symptoms to Watch For
Sometimes bloody stools are just one sign that something is wrong. If your pet has any accompanying symptoms, such as those listed below, that is even more reason to call your vet.
- Urinating more than normal
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Drinking more water than normal
- Extreme lethargy
Diagnosing the Cause of the Bleeding
Tests Commonly Used for Diagnosis
According to Vet Info.com, there are several tests your veterinarian may decide to run:
- Examination of the rectal area
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- Profile of chemicals in your cat's blood
- Testing of fecal material
- X-rays or ultrasound of the abdominal area
Questions Your Vet May Ask
Your vet will also need to gather as much information from you as possible to reach an accurate diagnosis. Typical questions might include:
- Could your cat have eaten spoiled food or ingested non-food items, such as bones?
- Has there been a recent change in your pet's diet?
- Has your cat eaten any people food? If so, what?
- Has your cat experienced any trauma to the anal area, such as a bite from another animal or a blunt force injury?
- Have you noticed the cat rubbing its rear on the carpets? This could indicate anal sac problems.
Hematochezia or Melena?
The state of the blood in a cat's stools can also give the vet a better idea of where the bleeding is coming from. According to Vet Info.com:
- Hematochezia is the presence of a bright red blood in the stool. Bright red blood is usually an indication of bleeding in the lower intestines or rectum, although the actual bleeding can be caused by a wide variety of problems such as parasites in younger cats and cancer in older cats. However, this is not always the case, and only your veterinarian can make a valid diagnosis by running tests, such as the ones listed above
- Melena is a dark, tar-like feces. This is often caused by passing older blood, which indicates a problem higher in the intestines instead of the lower tract.
Depending upon the results of the tests, your vet may recommend some of the following treatments to help relieve your feline of his or her bloody stools:
- Prescription foods or a new diet to help ease the strain on the intestines
- Therapy with fluid
- Medication to treat internal parasites
- Antibiotics, if your cat has a bacterial infection
- Drugs that can slow the movement of food through your cat's intestines.
Take a Sample to Your Vet
Whenever you notice your cat has bloody stools, be sure to collect the fecal matter for examination. Place the stool sample into a plastic baggie and take it to your vet as soon as you can. This is probably the first and easiest test that your veterinarian can run, and it will tell you if there is an infestation of most common parasites. Most conditions are easier to treat at the onset, so seek veterinary care for your cat any time significant health changes occur.