Cat Has Blood In Stool (Why & What To Do)

Key takeaway

Cats can have blood in their stool for many reasons, ranging from stress to underlying health conditions. If your cat has blood in their stool, you should consult a vet as soon as possible. In some cases, your vet may advise you to monitor your pet, but depending on the type of blood and stool consistency, they may ask you to bring your cat in for treatment.

As a cat parent, you know everything there is to know about your cat, including what their stool looks like. Seeing blood in your cat's stool can be scary for pet parents, especially if they've shown no indication of illness. However, finding blood in your cat's stool likely indicates a health problem, so you should take them to the vet for examination as soon as possible. 

There are many causes of blood in cat stool, including everything from minor GI issues like constipation and diarrhea to major illnesses like cancer, infections, and exposure to toxins. In addition, blood in cat poop ranges in appearance. For example, it may appear as a streak in otherwise healthy feces or more liquidy if the cat experiences diarrhea. Understanding your cat's stool can help you learn when to take them to the vet. While your cat may experience GI issues from time to time that changes the shape and texture of their feces, blood is an indication of a potentially serious illness, so don't wait to consult a vet about their health. 

Potential causes of blood in cat stool

Why Does My Cat Have Blood In Their Stool?

There are many reasons why your cat has blood in their stool, and the blood may range from dark to watery or even bright red. Common causes of blood in cat stool include: 

  • Diarrhea: Cat diarrhea may cause blood in cat stool because cats suffering from GI issues may have intestinal irritation that leads to bleeding, which is seen when the cat defecates. Unfortunately, many underlying medical issues can cause cat diarrhea, including stress and anxiety, worms, medications, and infections. 
  • Constipation: Similar to diarrhea, constipation can also cause blood in cat poop because hard stools can damage or pop blood vessels.1 Again, like diarrhea, constipation could be caused by many different factors, so if your cat is constipated for more than a few days, it should be examined by a vet.  
  • Intestinal parasites: A common cause of kitten diarrhea with blood is worms. You can find blood in cats' poop with or without worms in cat poop, since parasites like hookworms, which feed on the intestines, can lead to bleeding of the digestive tract.1 
  • Organ dysfunction: Organ dysfunction like kidney disease typically causes diarrhea and other GI problems in cats that can cause bleeding of the digestive tract and abnormal blood clotting seen in cat feces.1 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): IBD causes inflammation that irritates the digestive tract lining, causing bleeding that is expelled in feces.1
  • Infection: Several types of infections, such as bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, can affect the GI tract and cause bleeding.1
  • Cancer: Several types of cancers and tumors can cause bleeding in the GI tract, even if they aren't located in the digestive tract.1
  • Object in the digestive tract: Foreign objects in the digestive tract can cause an obstruction that prevents the cat from expelling feces and damages the intestines, causing bleeding.1 Blockages can be life-threatening, so if you believe your cat ate something it shouldn't have, take them to the vet immediately. 
  • Exposure to toxins: Toxins, such as poisons and unsafe human foods for cats, can irritate the digestive tract, potentially causing erosion that can result in bleeding.1
  • Medication: Certain medications can cause diarrhea and other GI symptoms in cats, resulting in straining during defecation that can lead to bleeding. 
  • Stress: Stress may cause diarrhea in cats, causing loose and even bloody stools. 
  • Food intolerance: Food allergies and food intolerances can irritate the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea or bloody feces. 
  • Trauma: Trauma by accidental injury or surgery of the digestive tract can cause internal bleeding, resulting in blood in the stool. 

Dark Vs. Bright Red Stool

There are several different color variations of blood you may find in cat stool, ranging from dark, black blood to watery or brightly colored blood and blood clots. Bright red blood in small traces typically comes from the lower intestinal tract. In contrast, dark brown or black and tarry blood comes from the stomach or somewhere else farther up the intestinal tract, such as the mouth, esophagus, or small intestine.1

Meanwhile, if your cat has diarrhea with bright red blood, it may indicate damage to the blood vessels in the digestive tract, or it can occur due to diarrhea or constipation since cats may strain during defecation. It's important to know the color and consistency of the blood in your cat's stool since you'll need to relay this information to the vet to help them diagnose and treat whatever is causing your pet distress. 

You should also be able to describe the type of stool your cat has, whether it's solid or diarrhea, and how long they've had symptoms. 

What to do if your cat has blood in their stool

What Should I Do If There's Blood In My Cat's Stool?

Since blood in your cat's stool can indicate a serious health condition, you should always consult a vet as soon as you notice the issue. Depending on any other symptoms your cat is experiencing and any past history of illness, your vet may have you monitor your cat over the course of a few days to see if the blood in your cat's stool resolves itself.

If you only see the blood occur in your cat's stool once, it may be best to simply monitor for the next day to determine whether they're showing signs of illness. If you see blood once and it's not recurring, there's likely no cause for concern. However, if you see blood multiple times over the course of a few days, you should take your cat to the vet. 

Additionally, if your cat is constipated and hasn't had a bowel movement for at least two days, you should take them to the vet for treatment since straining could be causing blood in their stool. 

Of course, since there are many causes of blood in cat poop, you should use your best judgment when deciding when to take your cat to the vet. For example, if your cat is vomiting and having diarrhea multiple times throughout the day with blood in its stool, it could indicate something more serious, like an intestinal blockage. In addition, if your cat is showing any other signs of illness, such as worms in their stool, they should be treated as soon as possible. 

Similarly, if your cat may have ingested toxins around the home, you should take them to the vet for treatment as soon as possible. Even if you're unsure whether your cat got into something they shouldn't have, toxin exposure is a medical emergency, so they should have treatment immediately. 

What Are Other Side Effects To Look Out For?

As we've mentioned, if your cat has relatively normal stools and you notice a streak of blood once, but the cat doesn't experience blood in their stool again, it's likely not cause for concern. However, if your cat is experiencing additional symptoms, it should be taken to the vet as soon as possible. Other side effects to watch out for include:

  • Lethargy
  • Straining
  • Vomiting
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Lots of blood in the stool
  • Persistent diarrhea, frequent trips to the litter box
  • Hard stool for more than two days

When is blood in stool an emergency?

When Is It An Emergency?

While some instances of blood in cats' poop can be brought on by stress, GI upset, or food intolerance, blood in the stool is never normal and shouldn't be ignored. As a cat parent, you know when your cat isn't feeling well, so you should consult a vet if you notice any of the following: 

  • A lot of blood in the stool
  • Pale, blue, or deep red gums
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • A lack of energy
  • Your cat is very young, very old, pregnant, or has an underlying health problem1

Many of these symptoms indicate serious health conditions, and some require immediate treatment to ensure the health and wellness of your cat. 

Treatment

When you take your cat to the vet for blood in their stool, your vet will examine the pet and run diagnostic tests, asking you about the symptoms and how long they've been present. In most cases, they'll ask you to bring in a fecal sample to help them determine whether there are any parasites causing intestinal bleeding. In addition, depending on your cat's other symptoms, they may use blood work to help identify the cause of bloody stool in cats. 

Treatment for blood in cat stool depends on the cause. For example, if the vet diagnoses your cat with parasites, they'll give them medication to eliminate them. However, the cat may require surgery if the cause is more serious, like an obstruction or tumor.1 

If your vet can't identify the cause, they may try to treat the symptoms and ask that you monitor your cat over the next few days. Cats with diarrhea may receive anti-diarrheal medications that bulk up their stool, while cats with constipation may receive stool softeners.1 Depending on any lifestyle changes the cat has experienced, your vet may also recommend different treatments. For example, if your cat is stressed, your vet might recommend anxiety medication or behavioral therapy to prevent diarrhea due to anxiety. 

Cat climbing into litter box

Final Notes 

Finding blood in your cat's stool while cleaning out their litter box can be scary for pet parents. After all, you know that healthy cats should not have bloody stools. However, since there are many different causes of blood in cat stool, it's best not to panic, which could upset your cat even more. Instead, consult a vet to determine whether they need immediate treatment. Also, keep an eye on your cat's symptoms to determine whether it may be suffering from something more serious than a case of diarrhea or constipation. While both are symptoms of underlying diseases and GI upset, other symptoms, such as lethargy, lack of appetite, and vomiting, could indicate a medical emergency. 

Dutch's telemedicine for pets can help you get the answers you need when you need them most. Whether your cat has bloody diarrhea or you found a streak of blood in an otherwise healthy poop, we can help diagnose and treat your cat's medical issues to prevent worsening symptoms and improve its quality of life. Try Dutch today.

References

  1. “Blood in Cat Stool.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/symptoms/blood-cat-stool.