Cat in litter box

Key takeaway

Your cat’s stool can indicate a host of different health conditions, such as diarrhea, liver problems, constipation, a bacterial infection, and more. Your cat may seem fine, but if their poop looks off, that likely means something is wrong inside.

Your cat’s stool shouldn’t just be something that you pick up out of their litter box, throw into the trash, and never look at again. Your cat’s poop can actually tell you a lot about their overall health, and it can even be the first sign of illness.

A healthy cat’s stool should look smooth and be shaped like a sausage. This means your cat is thriving and you should keep what you’re doing to keep them healthy. But if your cat’s stool is runny, hard, or an unusual color- that means your kitty isn’t doing so hot and you should bring them to a vet to get help.

A cat’s poop can tell you a lot more than you think, and may indicate a host of different health conditions, including diarrhea, liver problems, constipation, parasites, and other maladies. But when should you be concerned about your cat’s poop? And what can you do to help them?

To help you better understand your cat’s stool and what you can do to help your cat get better if they’re sick, we've created a cat poop chart that outlines the appearances of different types of cat poop.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what normal cat poop looks like, what to do if you’re concerned about your cat’s poop, frequently asked questions about cat poop, and more. Continue reading, or use the links below to skip to a section of your choice, and learn how our cat poop chart can help you keep track of your kitty’s health.

Cat Poop Chart

Review this cat poop chart to determine signs and symptoms of illness in your cat.

Cat poop chart

What Does Normal Cat Poop Look Like?

Normal cat poop should be brown or dark brown in color and be shaped like a sausage. It should have a firm consistency, but it shouldn’t be too hard. It should be malleable, similar to modeling clay. It should appear segmented and leave little to no residue on the ground when it’s picked up. There also shouldn’t be any blood or mucus in the poop. Normal cat poop indicates that your cat is in overall good health and is being fed the proper amount of food for their age, breed, and activity level.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Cat’s Poop?

The first thing you notice when cleaning out your cat’s litter box is their poop. So when their poop looks different, you’re probably going to notice it. The texture of your cat’s poop can range from a watery puddle to small, hard pebbles, and each texture indicates a different health issue. For example, if your cat is constipated, they’ll leave hard, dry pellets of poop. If your cat has diarrhea, their poop will be watery, and is often left outside the litter box.

Your cat’s litter box should be cleaned once or twice a day, so if your cat’s poop looks different, you’ll probably realize relatively quickly. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different appearances of poop that are listed on the cat stool chart so that you’re aware of the normal appearance and consistency of cat poop.

Cat owner scooping poop from litter box

There’s a good chance that your cat’s poop will look abnormal at some point in their life. Abnormalities in your cat’s poop can indicate something as simple as diarrhea to more serious health issues, like gallbladder or liver problems. It’s important to know what an abnormal cat poop chart looks like so that you can get your kitty the proper treatment they need.

Below, we’ll get into the different types of cat poop and what each poop appearance may indicate:

Consistency

  • Mushy stool with some shape: If your cat’s stool is mushy, but still retains some shape, this most likely indicates that they have a slight upset stomach. This could be caused simply by a sudden change of diet. If their stool does not go back to normal within a few days, or if they develop additional symptoms, contact your vet.
  • Watery stool: If your cat’s stool is watery and doesn’t have any shape, that likely means they have diarrhea. Cat diarrhea can be caused by bacteria, viruses, intestinal worms, or food intolerances. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is another condition that can cause diarrhea in a cat. Diarrhea is also often a symptom of cat skin allergies, which can be triggered by airborne allergens or food sensitivities. If your cat’s diarrhea doesn’t subside within a few days, or if they develop other symptoms, contact your vet.

Color

  • Red hue: If your cat’s stool has a red hue to it, that means they are suffering from bleeding in their anus or rectum. Bacterial infections, like Salmonella, or infectious diseases, like Feline Panleukopenia, can cause bleeding from the anus. If the bleeding doesn’t resolve on its own in a few days, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, contact your vet.
  • Orange hue: If your cat’s stool has an orange hue to it, that means they are suffering from gallbladder or liver problems. This is usually caused by a bacterial infection that starts in the intestines and either moves up to the bile duct or is spread throughout the blood. Tumors, obstruction of the bile duct, and abdominal trauma can also cause gallbladder or liver problems. To treat gallbladder and liver problems in cats, your vet will likely suggest supportive fluid treatment, antibiotics, vitamin supplements, or other prescription drugs. If you notice your cat’s poop is slightly orange, contact your vet immediately.
  • Black hue: If your cat’s stool has a black hue to it, that may mean there is bleeding in their GI tract. This may be accompanied by other symptoms, like chronic vomiting, weakness, poor appetite, and weight loss. Treatment for bleeding in a cat’s GI tract varies depending on what is causing it. For example, parasites are treated with dewormers and inflammatory bowel disease is typically treated with an anti-inflammatory medication. If you notice your cat's poop is black, contact your vet immediately.

If your cat’s stool has a black hue to it, that may mean there is bleeding in their GI tract.

  • Yellow hue: If your cat’s stool has a yellow hue to it, it may be a sign of liver or gallbladder problems, but in some cases, this can be perfectly normal. If your cat’s stool has a new yellow hue to it that doesn’t dissipate, contact your vet.
  • Green hue: If your cat’s stool has a green hue to it, that could be a sign of a bacterial or parasitic infection, but it may also mean your cat has eaten grass. A bacterial infection can be caused by a cat consuming contaminated water, dairy, feces, or undercooked meat. A vet will likely prescribe an antibiotic drug to treat a bacterial infection. In severe cases, fluids for dehydrated cats may also be needed. If your cat’s stool has a green hue to it, monitor it; if it continues to look different than normal, call your vet.

Struggle to Defecate

Straining to defecate, hard, pebble-like stools: If your cat is struggling to defecate, or if their stool resembles hard pebbles, that likely means they are constipated. Constipation can be caused by underlying issues, like stress and anxiety, allergies, dehydration, inflammatory bowel disease, or nerve problems. If your cat is struggling to defecate, call your vet to figure out a solution. Your vet will likely recommend feeding your cat a more fiber rich diet to ease their constipation or obstipation.

Unable to pass stool at all: If your cat can’t pass stool at all, that means they’re suffering from severe constipation. Hairballs, ingestion of foreign bodies, like bones, pelvic injuries, obesity, and diabetes can all cause severe constipation in cats. If your cat isn’t able to pass stool at all, contact your vet immediately.

Kitten stepping out of litter box

What to Do If You’re Concerned About Your Cat’s Poop

Cleaning your cat’s litter box and seeing bloody poop is definitely alarming. Abnormalities in your cat’s poop is not something to take lightly. Your cat’s poop can indicate a lot about their health, so it’s important to know what to do if you’re concerned about the appearance of their poop.

First and foremost: Never use home remedies to treat your cat’s defecation issues. Always check in with your veterinarian before you do anything, and always make sure your cat’s food and water are fresh.

If your cat is constipated, your vet will likely recommend feeding them more fiber, upping their water intake, feeding canned foods, and increasing their exercise. If your cat’s stool has blood in it, that means they’re likely suffering from a health issue, like an infection or parasites, that will require additional medical treatment.

The treatment your cat needs will ultimately depend on what is causing their poop abnormalities. For example, prescription medication, like metronidazole or prednisolone, may be prescribed to treat inflammation in a cat. But if your vet thinks an allergy, intolerance, or inflammatory bowel disease is causing their poop abnormalities, they may recommend putting your cat on a special diet. Deworming medication or probiotics may also be given depending on the cause.

This is why it’s always recommended to bring your cat to the vet if you’re concerned about their poop. Your vet will be able to run tests and give a formal diagnosis as to what’s causing their defecation issues. They’ll also be able to prescribe the correct treatment so that your cat can get better as quickly as possible.

There are also various things you can do to prevent these poop abnormalities and keep your cat’s stool healthy. Don’t feed your cats dairy products, as most cats can’t digest dairy properly and it makes them more prone to diarrhea. If you are planning on switching your cat’s food, do it gradually over the span of a couple days, rather than all at once. This gives them time to adjust to the new food and minimizes the chances of them having an upset stomach.

Cat Poop Chart: Frequently Asked Questions

How many times should my cat poop per day?

There is no set in stone rule about how many times your cat should poop per day, but generally speaking, most healthy cats will poop once or twice a day. If your cat is pooping more than that, then it might also be a good idea to call your vet to make sure everything is alright.

When should I be concerned about cat poop?

There are a few abnormalities that you should look out for in your cat’s poop that may indicate that they’re sick. If their stool is watery or if it has a red, orange, black, yellow, or green hue, that likely means something is wrong. If your cat is having a hard time passing stool, or if they can’t pass it at all, that also is an indication that something is wrong.

These abnormalities can indicate anything from constipation to a bacterial infection, so it’s important to know when you should be concerned about your cat’s poop. Our cat poop guide outlines the different appearances of cat poop and what they may indicate, so that you know what to do if your cat’s stool suddenly turns green.

What does runny poop in cats mean?

In most cases, runny poop in cats is a sign of diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, dietary sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease, or a lack of digestive enzymes. If your cat has runny poop, contact your vet so you can figure out the best way to go about treating them. Do not attempt at-home remedies for diarrhea, as over-the-counter medications can be toxic or dangerous for your cat.

What does normal cat poop look like?

Normal cat poop should be brown or dark brown in color, but not black. It should have a firm, pliable consistency, but not too hard or soft. It should leave no residue on the ground when it’s picked up.

A healthy cat’s stool should also be about four to six inches in length.

Final Notes

Although you might be tempted to throw away your cat’s poop the second you lift it out of the litter box, it’s actually a good idea to take a few moments to look at it. Your cat’s poop can tell you a lot about their overall health, and if something is off, that probably means your kitty is sick.

So if you’re cleaning your cat’s litter box and notice their poop looks more soft and runny than usual, don’t just brush it off. Abnormalities in your cat’s poop can indicate a host of different health conditions, like diarrhea, constipation, and even more serious conditions like bleeding in the GI tract. Our cat stool guide will help you have a better understanding of what to look out for in your cat’s poop, so you know when to call a vet and seek medical attention.

If you notice your cat’s poop looks differently, contact your vet as soon as possible. And if you don’t have the time to physically bring your cat to the vet, that’s where Dutch comes into play. Dutch.com provides vet telemedicine for pets, connecting pet owners with licensed veterinarians right from the comfort of their own home.

All you have to do is sign up online, submit a questionnaire detailing your cat’s poop problems, and you’ll then be connected with a Dutch-affiliated who will take a look at your response. They’ll determine if/what treatment is necessary, and if so, prescribe it to you. The best part about Dutch? You’ll get your prescription delivered right to your door within 7 days.

With Dutch, going to the vet has never been easier. We bring the user to the vet and the vet to the pharmacy, so you can aid your kitty back to health as quickly as possible.

References

  1. Harvey A: Managing Constipation. British Small Animal Veterinary Congress 2006.
  2. Sherding RG: Management of constipation and dyschezia. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet 1990 Vol 12 (5) pp. 677-8; 682-5.
  3. Ettinger SJ, Feldman EC: . Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 6th ed. 2005 pp. 1401-6.
  4. Webb CB: Constipation: Getting Crap out of a Cat. Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference 2016.
  5. Gaschen F: Constipation in Cats. World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings 2017.
  6. Washabau RJ: G.I. Motility Disorders: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Therapy. ABVP 2011.