Since cats always do their business in the same place, it can be easy to tell when something is amiss. Changes to your cat’s stool or urine can be easy to see in a box full of litter. Noticing these changes can be vital for your cat’s health since symptoms like this can sometimes indicate a more serious problem afoot.
So, what should you do if you find blood in your cat’s stool, and equally importantly, what does this mean? Naturally, your veterinarian needs to be included in the conversation and you should call them for their advice right away. But we’re going to lay out the important information that you need to know for how to react when you find blood in your cat’s stool.
Don’t panic! It could be serious, but if you take the right steps, your cat should make it out of this just fine. Let’s take a look at what bloody stool can mean for your feline and what you should do about it.
What is Bloody Stool a Sign of?
Your cat’s stool can be a great indicator of many health problems.
How Should My Cat’s Stool Look?
If you don’t usually pay attention to your cat’s stool, you may have a difficult time determining when something is wrong. Though you may think it would be obvious when blood is in your cat’s stool, it might not be as easy to see as you think.
Before you can tell if there’s blood in your cat’s stool, you need to know what it should look like under normal conditions. When your cat is healthy, its stool should be moist but firm, not wet or runny. Color-wise, it should be dark brown but not black.
Different Types of Blood in Cat Stool
When examining your cat’s stool for signs of blood, it’s important to note that there are two different types of blood you’re looking for. They appear completely different and are caused by different factors as well. Your vet will need all the information you can offer when diagnosing your cat, so knowing exactly what type of blood you noticed in your cat’s stool can be beneficial.
This is the easier blood to spot because it’s bright red and sticks out when compared to the rest of the stool. It’s a sign of a problem closer to the anus, in the lower intestinal tract or rectum. Generally, this is the more commonly seen blood in a cat’s stool.
Melena can be more difficult to notice because it’s very dark and blends in with the rest of the stool. Rather than a bright red color like hematochezia, melena blood is so dark it can appear to be black. It’s dry and coagulated and has been partially digested as it made its way through your cat. It might look like coffee grounds or tar. This indicates that the blood is coming from higher up the intestinal tract.
Should You Call the Vet?
If you find blood in your cat’s stool, you’ll want to get on the phone with your vet right away. While bloody stool may not be fatal, they can develop into a much more serious condition very quickly since it’s usually a sign of a more dangerous problem already occurring.
But before you call your vet, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the information you need readily available. For instance, you’ll need to be able to accurately describe the bloody stool for your veterinarian, including its coloration. What’s more, you might need to collect a sample to bring to your vet for diagnosis.
Also, note any inconsistencies or oddities in your cat’s recent behavior. Things like rubbing its rear end on the ground or difficulty during bowel movements should be relayed to your vet.
As with most maladies, the earlier the problem is identified, the easier it is to treat. If a problem is left untreated for too long, the symptoms and issues can exacerbate and it may be too late by the time the cat receives treatment. Once you get the advice of your vet, you can begin treating the issue and helping to keep your cat comfortable while they heal up.
7 Natural Home Remedies
Because blood in the stool can be a sign of a serious health problem, we don’t recommend beginning any natural home remedies until your vet has seen and diagnosed your cat. You should also get any home remedies approved by your pet before administering them.
Once you get approval from your vet, the following seven remedies can help to get rid of the underlying causes for bloody stool as well as make your cat more comfortable while they heal.
1. Feed Your Cat a Bland Diet
Your cat’s bloody stool could be caused by a variety of factors, but one sure way to minimize all of the possibilities and help to cure the underlying cause is to feed your cat a bland, home-cooked food regimen for several days.
This isn’t something you’ll want to do long term because it won’t provide your cat with all the nutrients it needs to be healthy, but it will do well for helping to cure your cat in the short-term.
You can use white rice and either chicken or beef for protein. Feed your cat two parts rice to one part protein. Make sure not to season any of it. If your cat doesn’t seem interested in the rice, you can try potatoes instead.
2. Make Changes to Dietary Intake
We mentioned feeding your cat a bland diet, but that’s not a long term solution. That will help to get the issue under control, but you’ll need a new food regimen to feed your cat for the long haul. Luckily, your vet should be able to point you in the right direction.
Following your vet’s guidance, slowly introduce the new food to your feline while phasing out the old foods you were previously feeding it. Make sure to do this over several days to minimize the effects that a new food can cause for your cat.
Your vet will suggest a food intake that can help to combat the underlying problems causing your cat’s stool to be bloody. But the specifics of the new intake will be different for each case since there are many underlying causes of this problem. Be sure to follow your vet’s directions closely to help cure your cat’s health concerns and prevent bloody stool from occurring in the future.
3. Offer Herbal Tea
For cats suffering from internal bleeding, IBS, colitis, or other similar conditions that cause bloody stool, a simple herbal tea can offer an effective remedy. Be sure to get approval from your vet before giving some to your feline.
This tea is made from two natural herbs; comfrey and mullein. To make it, you’ll need to simmer one teaspoon of comfrey root for a half hour. Then, add one teaspoon of comfrey leaf and one teaspoon of mullein to the comfrey root and allow the mixture to steep for 20 minutes before straining.
You can pour this tea directly over your cat’s food, spreading out the dosage with each meal.
4. Conduct Fluid Therapy
If your cat has bloody stool, it’s likely accompanied by other side effects like diarrhea or vomiting that can rapidly cause dehydration. Dehydration is also a cause of the health concerns that result in bloody stool, creating a vicious cycle.
Since dehydration is such a concern for cats experiencing bloody stool, fluid therapy is often used to help hydrate cats with such issues.
Fluid therapy is done through subcutaneous fluid injection. You’ll be using an IV bag to administer the supplemental fluid under your cat’s skin. This is especially effective because cats don’t have a strong thirst drive, so they often won’t drink enough on their own.
5. Use Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
One of the most common underlying causes of bloody stool is a parasitic infection. Several different parasites can infect your cat and none of them are welcome guests.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is used by breeders and farmers as a dietary aid. Since it absorbs fat from insects and parasites, it dehydrates and kills them. Feeding it to your cat can have the same effect, potentially killing the parasites that are causing your cat’s bloody stool.
Since this supplement is tasteless, it’s easy to administer to your cat by mixing it into a can of wet cat food. Use half a teaspoon of diatomaceous earth each day and continue feeding it to your cat for four days. After four days, you must wait two weeks before repeating the treatment.
Keep a close eye on your cat’s stool for signs of worms or parasites. Once they die, they’ll be excreted in your cat’s bowel movements and should be visible if you look for them.
6. Use Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Another alternative to diatomaceous earth is raw pumpkin seeds. These are great at killing parasites; particularly tapeworms.
To feed these to your cat, grind them up and mix them into your cat’s food. You’ll want to use about a quarter-cup of dried seeds each day.
7. Try Fasting
Fasting has recently become pretty popular with all sorts of people because of the myriad of health benefits it reportedly brings. But we’re not the only ones who can benefit from fasting. Your cat can benefit as well, especially when they have bloody stool.
Many parasites can’t survive a day without any food. So, starve them out by not feeding your cat for an entire day. As long as you don’t continue the fast for more than a day, this is perfectly safe for your cat and can even provide a host of benefits aside from killing the parasites infecting your cat’s gastrointestinal tract.
Preventing Bloody Stool
Though treatments exist for helping your cat when there’s blood in its stool, the best treatment is to avoid the problem entirely. But how can you avoid a problem that has so many different root causes? Here are a few guidelines to help you:
Keep Your Cat Well Hydrated
In the wild, cats get most of their hydration from the prey they eat. They don’t often stop for a drink. Since cats evolved to act this way, they don’t have a high thirst drive. This means that dehydration is a common and serious problem for cats.
When your cat is dehydrated, gastrointestinal problems are more likely to occur. You’ll be able to tell your cat is dehydrated if they’re lethargic or depressed or if they exhibit a loss of appetite, sunken eyes, elevated heart rate, or decreased elasticity of their skin.
Avoid Problematic Foods for Felines
Sometimes, bloody stool is caused by problem foods. While cats can eat a wide variety of foods, there are some foods they should never eat. Dairy products, for instance, can cause severe gas or other GI issues that can lead to bloody stool if they progress far enough.
Likewise, foods that cause a food allergy for your cat also need to be removed from the diet.
Make Dietary Changes Slowly
Your vet will likely recommend dietary changes for you to make for your cat if it’s having bloody stool. You might also decide to make certain changes on your own such as removing dairy from their intake.
No matter what changes you’re making to your cat’s food regimen, you need to make them slowly. Drastic changes in your cat’s diet can cause unpleasant and unwanted side effects, including blood in their stool.
When making dietary changes for your cat, use small amounts at a time, gradually increasing the intake of the new food while phasing out the intake of the old food. This will prevent your cat from getting any adverse reactions to the new food.
Reduce Your Cat’s Stress Levels
Similar to humans, a cat’s stress levels can have adverse effects on their health. A stressed-out cat can be susceptible to a wide array of health concerns. Do your best to eliminate stressors in your cat’s life such as major changes to their routine or new members in the household. While these aren’t always avoidable, doing your best to reduce your cat’s stress can be very helpful in eliminating the underlying causes of bloody stool.
Your cat’s feces can be a very strong indicator of their overall health. If you discover blood in your cat’s stool, it can be a sign of a much bigger problem higher up the chain. This could be caused by parasites, bacteria, physical trauma, polyps, or a plethora of other reasons.
Take careful note of anything you notice in your cat’s bloody stool and then call your vet. They can give you more specific instructions including any dietary changes that need to be made for your cat’s health. After discussing it with your vet, you can try some home remedies like herbal teas or food-grade diatomaceous earth to help get your cat back to full health.
Remember, prevention is the best medicine. Keep your cat well hydrated, avoid feeding it problem foods like dairy, and help to keep its stress levels low and you should be able to avoid problems like bloody stool in the future.
Featured image credit: Studio Peace, Shutterstock
- What is Bloody Stool a Sign of?
- How Should My Cat’s Stool Look?
- Different Types of Blood in Cat Stool
- Should You Call the Vet?
- 7 Natural Home Remedies
- Preventing Bloody Stool