Cleaning the litter box is an overall unpleasant experience, but there’s important information in there! The color and consistency of a cat’s poop offers a lot of insight into your cat’s overall health. Knowing about the types of abnormal cat poop and what they mean for your cat will help you monitor your pet’s health and know when medical intervention is necessary.
Healthy Cat Poop: What Should It Look Like?
Healthy cat poop should be brown to dark brown in color and have a segmented, sausage-shape. While the poop should be firm, it shouldn’t be overly hard or pebble-like. You should not see obvious blood or mucus in the feces.
Normal cat poop does have an odor, but it shouldn’t smell foul, rancid, or metallic. If the smell sends you running out of the room holding your nose, your pet’s poop may be abnormal.
Healthy adult cats will usually poop in their litter box once or twice daily. A lot of cats will defecate shortly after eating. While not all cats consistently poop after a meal, it’s a normal response to eating in those that do. After all, they’re going to need to make space for what they just ate!
Kittens may poop three or four times daily, sometimes more. Kitten poop may be softer than adult poop but should not be watery, bloody, or contain a lot of mucus.
Abnormal Cat Poop: A Sign of Potential Health Problems
Noticing changes to the color, smell, or consistency of poop, as well as how often your pet is having bowel movements, can help you detect changes to your pet’s health.
The list of potential reasons your cat’s poop is abnormal is quite long. While it’s the veterinarian’s job to figure out why your cat’s poop is abnormal, they’re relying on you to monitor your cat’s poop at home. They won’t know about it unless you bring it up!
The litter box should be scooped daily, allowing you to monitor for changes to your pet’s bowel movements. While some self-cleaning litter boxes may make it more difficult to notice changes to bowel movements, some of these devices track how often your pet enters the litter box and how full the litter tray is, allowing you to monitor your pet’s bathroom habits. You can also pick up on changes to the color or consistency of your cat’s feces when you empty the tray.
Abnormal Cat Poop Chart
Many different types of abnormal cat poop exist. The Abnormal Cat Poop Chart below outlines types of abnormal cat poop, what they could mean, and their severity level.
|Type of Cat Poop||What It Could Mean||Severity Level|
|Red cat poop (usually streaks of red or red liquid noted on poop)||Blood in cat poop from lower GI tract (hematochezia)Causes include straining/constipation, infections (e.g., panleukopenia virus), dietary indiscretion, stress, parasites, inflammatory bowel conditions, cancer, and more||Mild to severe|
|Black cat poop||Blood in cat poop from upper GI tract (melena)Causes include stomach ulcers, infections, parasites, inflammatory bowel conditions, cancer, and more.||Moderate to severe|
|Yellow cat poop||Stool may be moving too quickly through the gastrointestinal tractCauses include bacterial or parasitic infections, liver conditions, gallbladder conditions||Moderate to severe|
|Green cat poop||Stool may be moving too quickly through the gastrointestinal tractCauses include bacterial or parasitic infections, liver conditions, gallbladder conditions||Moderate to severe|
|Runny cat poop or watery cat poop||Cat has inflammation in their intestines, intestines are moving too quickly, or they’re not able to absorb liquid as well in their intestinesCauses include rapid change of diet, dietary indiscretion, stress, infections, parasites, systemic conditions like hyperthyroidism, or cancer||Mild to severe|
|Mucus in cat poop or jelly-like cat poop||Usually associated with inflammation in the large intestineCauses include stress, inflammatory bowel disease, dietary changes, infections, or parasites (especially giardia)||Mild to severe|
|White cat poop||Uncommon but may indicate issues with bile duct systemCauses include bile duct blockage or decreased bile flow (cholestasis)Some white cat poop may simply be moldy from remaining in the box a long time||Severe|
|White worms in cat poop or white specks in cat poop||Small white specks that look like rice grains are usually tapewormsLong, thin, white worms are usually roundworms||Mild|
|Hard, pebble-like cat poop||Causes include constipation, dehydration, and difficult defecation due to bowel or anal sphincter conditions||Mild to moderate|
Keep in mind that some changes in your cat’s poop color may be related to their diet. For example, if your cat is eating food with a green dye or color, you may notice a green tint to their feces. In this case, it’s likely not a cause for concern if they’re otherwise acting normal. If you’ve recently changed your cat’s diet and notice a slight change in their poop color, it’s likely just due to their new food.
You will note that the severity level of these abnormal cat poops ranges, sometimes all the way from mild to severe. This is because many underlying diseases can often lead to similar changes. While a cat having diarrhea due to stress has a mild condition, a cat having diarrhea due to panleukopenia virus has a more severe condition.
When to See a Veterinarian
If your cat has one abnormal poop but is otherwise acting normal, you’re usually good to monitor at home. However, if your cat has runny poop, is regularly having abnormal bowel movements, has intermittent loose stools, has undergone a sudden change to bowel movements, or is otherwise acting abnormal (vomiting, loss of appetite, etc.), then you should follow up with your veterinarian.
If you see worms in your cat’s stools, you should contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will easily be able to figure out what type of worm your cat has and how to treat the parasites.
In most cases, blood in the stool at least warrants calling your veterinarian.
Signs to watch for which may indicate that your cat needs veterinary attention include:
- Changes to your pet’s appetite
- Straining to defecate or urinate
- Weight loss
- Unkempt coat
- Fecal staining on your cat’s backside
- Abdominal pain when picked up
- Dehydration causing a prolonged skin tent (skin between shoulder blades does not return to normal position when pinched up) or a sunken appearance to eyeballs
- Excessive drinking
Stress, treats, and dietary changes can all impact your cat’s stools. If changes are mild and your cat’s poop returns to normal over a couple days, veterinary attention is not necessary.
Keeping Your Cat’s Poop Normal
Although you cannot prevent every potential cause of abnormal poop in cats, the following steps will help you keep your cat’s digestion and poop healthy.
- Feed a regular, high-quality diet that is approved for your cat’s life stage.
- If you change your cat’s diet, do so slowly over the course of a week.
- Keep your cat on parasite prevention as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Keep your cat up to date on vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Avoid feeding your cat foods intended for human consumption.
- Ensure you keep food scraps and other tempting objects like string put away to prevent your cat from consuming these items.
Most cats do not need over-the-counter supplements to help with their feces and will have normal poop with a regular, healthy diet. However, some cats may benefit from supplements like probiotics or fiber. Speak with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your cat’s daily regimen.