What if your cat has blood in its feces?

Have you noticed blood in your cat’s feces? It can take several forms, such as a spot of bright blood or patches of blood throughout the feces, bloody diarrhea, or dark, tarry feces.

IMPORTANT: Blood in feces requires immediate veterinary attention, since it can be associated with a long list of illnesses. If possible, put a stool sample into a plastic bag or container and take it with you.

What causes cats to pass blood in feces?

A worried kitten sitting in a front of litter boxThe fundamental cause of blood in feces is gastrointestinal bleeding. The color can suggest whether the blood has undergone a digestion process.

Bright red blood, known as hematochezia, points to lower gastrointestinal bleeding, whereas dark, tarry feces point to upper gastrointestinal bleeding, labelled as melena in medicine.

Here are possible causes of gastrointestinal bleeding:

  • Parasitic infestations often go without any obvious symptoms, but in serious cases, bloody feces are usually the first symptom noticed by cat owners.
  • Bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract, for example, salmonellosis or campylobacteriosis.
  • Viral infections in the gastrointestinal tract, such as panleukopenia or feline infectious peritonitis.
  • Colitis, also known as inflammation of the colon or large intestine.
  • Anal sac problems. Anal sacs are pheromone glands located near the anus, and they can bleed if inflamed, ruptured, or clogged. In this case a, cat may frequently drag its bottom on the floor.
  • Constipation is associated with hardened stools that damage the walls of intestines and the anal exit, eventually causing bleeding.
  • Food intolerance can cause several symptoms pointing to the body’s purging of its digestive system, which may also include bloody diarrhea.
  • A foreign body can damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and cause bleeding either through vomit or feces.

What are other signs to look for?

Regardless of the cause, blood in feces alone is enough reason to take your cat to a doctor. But your veterinarian will be thankful if you have noticed anyy other possibly related signs of illness.

  • Poor appetite or a complete refusal to eat can point to many problems, including a long list of illnesses. If your cat is restricting its food intake, you should get him or her back to the bowl as soon as you can, to prevent damage to internal organs.
  • Vomiting is a common sign of gastrointestinal problems, such as ingestion of a foreign body or infections. Vomit can also contain blood.
  • Straining in the litter box or going outside of the litter box can point to pain during elimination. It could be caused by constipation, infection, or injury. Learn more about pain in cats here.
  • A swollen abdomen is a common sign of worm infestation. Other common signs are appetite changes and weight loss, among others. Find a complete list of worm symptoms in cats here.
  • Consistency of stools. There are two extremes to look for. Soft stool or diarrhea can point to infections, parasites, or a foreign body, whereas hard stool is a sign of constipation.

Though relatively common, blood in stools is a serious sign in cats. In fact, since it points to internal bleeding, it is a serious symptom in all animals, including other pets and humans. If your cat has blood in its feces, do not hesitate to visit a veterinarian.