Spotting blood in your cat’s stools can be a worrying and frightening sight. This is not normal and generally indicates that something is wrong with your cat’s gastrointestinal tract. Usually, cats present other symptoms alongside bloody stools that can help you or your vet easily figure out what’s wrong.
But what should you do if there’s blood in your cat’s stools, but she’s otherwise acting normal? Does the lack of symptoms mean everything is okay? Do you still need to call a veterinarian? And why is your cat acting normal if there is blood in their poop?
If you’re asking these questions, you’re in the right place. Here I provide six reasons for bloody stools and what to do about it. Even though your cat is acting normal, she might still need to see a vet for treatment. So, use this article to figure out what’s wrong and get your cat the treatment she needs.
What Does Blood in Cat Stools Look Like?
First of all, I want to touch on what bloody cat stools look like. This might sound like an obvious answer – don’t bloody stools have bright red blood in them? Well, yes… and no! There are two primary types of blood in cat poop, and you need to be aware of them both:
- Bright Red Blood: When asked to describe bloody stools, most pet parents imagine bright red blood in the poop. This is one type of bloody stool in cats. Red blood is often seen mixed with brown poop or around your cat’s anus.
- Black Blood: When there is digested blood in cat stools, it turns black rather than red. Many people assume that cat poop turns black when it dries. Although it can be a sign of dehydration, dark black feces usually points to internal bleeding.
It is important to be on the lookout for both types of bloody stools. If your cat is acting normal, their poop is the only thing you can use to help figure out what is wrong. Understanding the different types is therefore crucial in diagnosing the issue.
Reasons for Blood in Cat Stool but Acting Normal
Bloody cat stools arise for all kinds of reasons. A small amount of blood is generally nothing to worry about. On the other hand, a large amount of blood or tarry stools can point to several life-threatening diseases. These need urgent treatment from a vet!
Thankfully, if your cat is acting normal, you can usually assume that there’s nothing too seriously wrong. Nevertheless, you still need to be certain of this. Below are some of the reasons your cat has blood in their stool despite having no other symptoms.
If your cat has bloody stools but is acting normal, there is a high chance of constipation. This is where your cat’s stools are harder and dryer than usual. These hard poops are difficult to pass, so your cat will strain and might call out in pain when defecating.
There is often blood in the stools of constipated cats. The blood comes from a slight tearing of the anus as the hard stools leave the body. Alongside red blood, the stools themselves are usually smaller than usual and darker in color due to the lack of water.
A one-off case of constipation is generally nothing to worry about. Even chronic constipation could be due to a lack of fiber in the diet or frequent hairballs. However, constipation is also a symptom of kidney disease, anal gland issues, or other medical conditions that require urgent veterinary care.
The last part of the intestine is called the colon. When this portion of the intestine becomes inflamed, it is known as colitis. The inflammation often causes ulcers to form in the lining of the colon. As waste passes through the intestine and push against these ulcers, the ulcers start to bleed. This leads to red blood in the stools.
In most cases, dogs with colitis also suffer from diarrhea. Therefore, if you spot blood in cat poop with diarrhea, colitis is extremely likely. Aside from this, there aren’t any major symptoms of colitis. However, you might notice increased flatulence and changes in appetite as well.
Like constipation, colitis can be caused by many different things. Therefore, the severity of this condition depends on the underlying cause. It could be something as minor as food sensitivity or brought on by stress. On the other hand, it could be a result of FIV or internal trauma!
3. Intestinal Worms
Parasitic worms can live in the intestines and cause all kinds of digestive upset. But can worms cause blood in cat stools? Yes! More specifically, tapeworms are known to cause bleeding. These horrible parasites attach to the lining of your cat’s intestine and feed off their blood. Once they detach from the lining, blood can continue to pour into the intestines and out with the stools.
Other symptoms of tapeworms in cats include appetite changes, irritable behavior, and even intestinal blockages. However, an important thing to note is that tapeworms are also known to cause no symptoms and can easily go undetected! Even if your cat is acting normal, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily in the clear.
It is also common for owners to notice bloody stools even after deworming a cat. Whenever this happens, it is usually a sign that the infection hasn’t been completely cleared, or that your cat has been reinfected. This is why you should quarantine your cat with tapeworms – the parasites are highly contagious and isolating your cat can help to stop the infection from spreading.
4. Foreign Body
Another reason for bloody cat stools is a foreign body. Cats are curious creatures and can easily end up ingesting non-food items. When these items are sharp, they cause damage to the lining of the digestive tract as they pass through. This damage causes internal bleeding and bloody stools.
The type of bloody cat stools you see depends on where in the digestive tract the damage occurs. When higher up in the tract such as the stomach or small intestines, the blood itself is digested. This is when you end up seeing black stools. On the other hand, damage to the lining of the lower intestines or anus leads to red blood in the poop.
If the consumed foreign body is small, it might be excreted in the stools. However, larger indigestible objects can obstruct the bowels. In these cases, a veterinary professional will need to remove the blockage before it becomes fatal. Depending on the severity of the internal damage, surgery might also be required to fix the digestive tract.
5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition in which your cat’s gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed. In this way, it is similar to colitis. In fact, IBD is a potential cause of colitis in some cats. However, irritable bowel disease can happen anywhere along the GI tract, rather than isolated inflammation of the colon.
The symptoms of IBD depend on where the inflammation takes place. If the intestines (large intestines or small intestine) are involved, cats generally have diarrhea or loose stools and bleeding from ulcerations. On the other hand, inflammation of the stomach leads to vomiting instead.
Aside from that, cats with IBD tend to act normally. You might also notice an increase in appetite as cats cannot properly break down and absorb the food they’re eating. Over time, this could also lead to weight loss. Vets will need to treat the underlying cause to help ease these symptoms and digestive discomfort in your furry friend.
6. Gut Infections
Finally, gut infections can cause bloody cat poop without any other notable symptoms. Both viral and bacterial infections may be responsible. Bacteria and parasites that infect the gut cause localized inflammation. As we’ve already learned, this causes the lining of the gut to become swollen, ulcerated, and start to bleed.
In both cases, diarrhea is also common. Therefore, if you’re seeing blood on cat poop with diarrhea, you might want to get your cat checked for infections. Bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics, whereas viral infections cannot be cured with antiviral medication. Instead, vets will focus on treating the symptoms and hoping your cat fights the virus off itself.
This is one of the reasons why cats need to be vaccinated against common viral infections. This helps to minimize the chance of your cat picking up one of these intestinal viruses – they are much easier to prevent than they are to treat.
How To Tell What’s Causing Bloody Stools in Cats
As you can see, there are many reasons for blood in cat stools despite a lack of other symptoms. But when acting normal, it can be hard to figure out what is wrong. There are no other symptoms to go off of, so all your investigatory work comes from assessing your cat’s poop.
Thankfully, you can tell a lot about what is happening inside your cat by looking at what comes out! Below are some of the different types of stools you’ll see and the associated medical conditions linked with each type:
- Fresh Red Blood: If there is fresh red blood in your cat’s stools, this blood must have come from lower in the GI tract. Therefore, this indicates an issue with the colon or rectum. Examples include constipation to colitis, but you have to look at the other characteristics of the feces to figure out more.
- Hard, Dry Feces: When the poop is hard and dry, this is a sure sign that your cat is constipated. If you see your cat not pooping but acting normal, this is usually caused by something minor, so don’t worry! However, if your cat has chronic constipation or other symptoms develop, you need to see a vet.
- Loose, Watery Stools: When you discover blood in cat poop with diarrhea, colitis (large intestinal inflammation) is the most likely culprit. Either that or parasitic tapeworm infections. However, remember worm infections can be asymptomatic, so normal bloody poop could still be caused by worms.
- Blood & Mucus: It is normal to see a little mucus in your cat’s stools. Mucus lines the lining of the intestines to keep them lubricated and help with movement along the GI tract. However, if there is a lot of mucus mixed with blood, this isn’t a good sign. It usually indicates a bacterial infection, but could also point to colitis.
- Black Tarry Stools: The more dehydrated feces is, the darker it becomes. Therefore, black stools could point to constipation. Yet black and tarry stools are caused by digested blood. This usually happens when there is an injury to the stomach or small intestines. Often, this damage is caused by ingestion of a foreign body.
- Foul-Smelling Poop: Why does your cat’s poop smell so bad? When there’s blood in cat stools and very smelly odors, this usually indicates some kind of infection. This could be a bacterial or viral infection. Alternatively, issues with the anal sacs can cause foul-smelling poop and blood in the stools.
What To Do About Blood in Cat Stools
A cat with bloody stools but acting normal seems paradoxical. However, as you’ve just discovered, a lack of symptoms doesn’t mean everything is okay with your cat. You need to figure out what is causing this blood to appear, and get treatment from a vet if necessary.
If you see a little red blood in your cat’s feces, keep an eye on it but don’t call your vet just yet. As long as this is a one-off occurrence, there is no need to worry. However, some situations do require veterinary attention. Always call your vet if any of the following apply:
- Lots of Blood: A little blood in cat poop isn’t too concerning, but a lot of blood is extremely worrying. If you need to wipe your cat’s anus more than once to clean away the blood, this indicates severe internal bleeding and requires an emergency appointment.
- Chronic Diarrhea: If your cat has runny poop all the time, something is clearly wrong with your kitty. Diarrhea is a symptom of colitis, infections, and worms, along with more serious health conditions. You need to get these assessed and ruled out.
- Chronic Constipation: Any cat that is struggling to poop day after day should see a vet. Constipation can be caused by many different illnesses, ranging from mild to severe. If you’ve not picked up any stools or found hard stools for 2+ days, call the vet’s office.
- Loss of Appetite: Sick cats are often reluctant to eat. Anyone that sees their cat sleeping all day and not eating should call a vet. A cat not eating or drinking for 3 days is at severe risk of malnourishment and complications, so don’t hesitate to speak to a professional.
- Vomiting: Bloody stools might be the first sign something is wrong with your cat, but vomiting might occur later on. Whether you find your cat throwing up after eating or your cat throwing up undigested food, it’s a sign of something more serious.
At your veterinary appointment, be prepared to describe your cat’s stools to the vet. They’ll be able to use this information to help their diagnosis. It might also be worthwhile collecting a sample from the litter box and taking it in with you.
Your vet will use this information and conduct further tests to figure out what is wrong with your cat. They’ll then prescribe appropriate treatment for the underlying condition. This could be antibiotics, surgery, or something as simple as a change in diet. If an incurable condition is found to be responsible, your vet will treat the symptoms instead.
If your vet finds nothing wrong with your cat, there is likely a mild temporary digestive upset. You can help correct this by changing what you feed your cat. If their poop is hard and dry, switch to a wet food diet and encourage them to drink water. On the other hand, cats with watery stools should be fed a bland diet and encouraged to drink to avoid dehydration.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
If your cat has bloody stools but is acting normal, it needs to be taken seriously. Despite the lack of other symptoms, it is not normal for blood to be present in your cat’s stools. You need to get your cat to a vet to check what is causing this.
Your vet might discover nothing wrong with your cat whatsoever, and that’s great! Switching your cat’s diet and encouraging fluid intake can help improve the consistency of their stools and stop the bleeding. However, bloody poop could be caused by something more serious. These conditions need to be diagnosed and treated before the condition worsens.
Be prepared to describe your cat’s stools to the vet, or take along a sample with you if this is easier. With the right help and advice, you can diagnose and treat the problem. It is always better to err on the side of caution, just in case something serious is wrong.