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While it may not be a natural inclination, cat parents have much to gain from keeping an eye on their pet's bowel movements. Cats fed a regular diet typically have firm, healthy stools, and any deviation from their norm may indicate a potential health complication.
Read on to learn what healthy cat poop should look like and what a cat's poop may be saying about their health.
Learn what's normal for a cat by regularly cleaning the litter box and becoming familiar with the cat's stool color, shape, and consistency.
While it's important to remember that "normal" doesn't look the same for every cat, being aware of what is normal for cats, in general, can help alert pet parents to potential health issues if and when they arise.
Identifying normal poop can be a pet parent’s best tool to understand whether their cat is healthy inside or not. Because cats are so adept at hiding when they're in pain or physical discomfort, cat parents must familiarize themselves with their cat's typical health and behavior if they hope to notice any irregularities.
For pet parents wondering, "what does healthy cat poop look like?" the answer is only slightly different than healthy human poop. If people take your fiber pills and eat healthily, they’ll know.
The ideal cat poop is dark brown, a bit firm to the touch but not hard, and has a defined rounded shape. Loose stools or liquid diarrhea are considered abnormal and indicate gastrointestinal upset, although the symptoms may only be temporary.
Consider consulting a fecal scoring chart to better understand what normal and abnormal cat poop look like.
Healthy cat poop is firm and brown, and deviations from this can give potential insight into what is going on in a cat's body.
The color of cat poop can communicate potential health risks and indicate from where in the body the problem may be stemming. Below are some common colors of unhealthy cat stool and what they indicate:
Red streaks: Red streaks in cat feces indicate blood and could be caused by straining or an internal cut or wound. The occasional streak of blood is not immediately alarming, but pet parents should address continued blood in the stool.
Yellow, orange, white, and gray: Cat feces in one of these colors could indicate an issue with their liver, pancreas, or biliary system.
Black: Black cat feces indicate blood in a cat's upper digestive tract. Cat parents should consult a member of the Fuzzy Vet Team or contact their primary vet to treat the underlying issue.
White flakes: White flakes in cat feces indicate internal parasites like tapeworms or roundworms that are usually easily treated with a dewormer.
Cat stool that is not dark brown may only indicate a temporary problem, but pet parents need to monitor the cat's stool regularly to avoid worsening issues.
The consistency of cat poop can also communicate potential health risks Below are the common abnormal consistencies of cat stool and what they indicate:
Hardened stool: stool that is too hard often comes out as pellets rather than logs and may indicate that a cat is constipated or dehydrated.
Mushy stool: soft stool indicates gastrointestinal (GI) upset that may be temporarily caused by stress or dietary changes. Prolonged diarrhea may indicate a more serious issue, and cat parents may want to collect a stool sample and plan a vet visit to address the root problem.
Pet parents should closely monitor any continued deviations from their cat's norm.
While abnormal cat poop happens occasionally, it can be a pet parent’s first signal that something is wrong. In addition, different types of cat poop can indicate severe or potentially life-threatening issues that need to be addressed.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of the most common GI issues cats face, and the primary fecal symptoms are chronic diarrhea, abnormally frequent defecation, and blood in the stool. It may also motivate them to defecate outside of the litter box, even if the stool’s appearance is normal.
IBD triggers painful swelling of a cat's digestive tract and, if left untreated, can result in scar tissue taking over healthy tissue. IBD treatments vary by cat, but pet parents should seek the help of a licensed vet to resolve the problem.
Some cats' IBD is triggered by the food they're sensitive to, and a change in protein or a special diet can help immensely, as can a change to a high-fiber diet. Other cats may need to be on prescription medications long-term. All of Fuzzy’s veterinary support team are experienced in pet nutritional support and can assist with abnormal stool or dietary issues such as this.
Aside from IBD, pet parents may be alerted to common health concerns by abnormal cat feces, including liver disease, cancer, or other intestinal or bacterial infections.
A change in the typical color or consistency of cat feces can point to specific health problems that should be addressed as quickly as possible.
While cat feces may not always tell the whole story, pet parents can look to their cat's stool for helpful insights into their overall health. The following symptoms may suggest a digestive health issue in cats:
Straining to defecate
Abnormally frequent bathroom usage
Chronic diarrhea can be a serious issue in cats, and people should speak with a vet after a few days if they notice sustained liquid stool. While diarrhea typically resolves after a day or two, it may also indicate potential food allergies, IBD, or other persistent problems.
Vets may treat bouts of diarrhea with a digestive supplement, dewormer, or prescription medication, but some cats may require a special long-term diet to address the underlying issue.
If pet parents see bright red streaks or flakes of blood in their cat's stool or urine, there's no need to be immediately alarmed but they should discuss it with a licensed veterinary professional. In this case, monitor the cat's feces for the next few days to ensure the issue resolves itself but take photos to share with a vet online.
However, if there are large amounts of blood, bloody diarrhea, or blackened blood in the stool, pet parents should speak with a vet immediately or contact the cat’s primary veterinarian. This may indicate a more severe health issue.
If pet parents have questions about their cat’s poop, they should chat with an online vet like Fuzzy or make an appointment with their primary vet. The Fuzzy Vet Team is online 24hrs a day for chat and video support to help members work through any of their questions or cat care needs.