Home Cats Cat Poop: The Good, The Bad & The Alarming

Cat Poop: The Good, The Bad & The Alarming

by Naomi Rogers
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As much as you dread examining the contents of your cat’s litter box, checking her poop is an important way to keep tabs on her health. The color, consistency, and frequency of your kitty’s stools can help you determine if she is drinking enough water and whether or not her diet agrees with her. It may even reveal a serious medical problem.

So, what’s good, bad, and alarming when it comes to cat poop? We’ve got the full scoop!

cat poop

“Normal” Cat Poop

A typical healthy cat poops at least once a day without straining or spending too much time in the litter box. The result should be deep brown in color, tootsie roll-shaped, and malleable, but not overly soft. While all poop has a foul odor, your kitty’s stool should not be so stinky it clears a room!

A Note On Color:

Familiarize yourself with the shade of brown that is normal for your cat. Should you notice poop that is so dark it is nearly black, it could indicate bleeding in the digestive tract. On the other hand, stool that is too pale in color may mean your cat’s liver is not functioning properly. If the color of your cat’s poop suddenly changes with no explanation, collect a sample and make an appointment to see your vet.

Loose Stool: Why Does Your Cat Have Diarrhea?

Most cats suffer occasional bouts of loose stool or diarrhea throughout their lives. It could be a response to stress, a result of changing their diet, or a sign they ate something they shouldn’t. As long as your cat is eating and drinking like normal and not vomiting, most diarrhea should resolve itself in a day or two.

If the problem persists, your cat has additional symptoms, or appears to be losing weight; it may be a sign of a more serious condition such as intestinal parasites, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), hyperthyroidism, or cancer.

Persistent diarrhea can also lead to dehydration, which may have serious implications for your cat. As a general rule of thumb, see your vet if your cat’s loose poop:

  • lasts more than a day or two
  • is black or bloody
  • is accompanied by a fever, vomiting, lethargy, or loss of appetite.

Kitty Constipation: What Does It Mean When Your Cat Can’t Poop?

Like diarrhea, occasional constipation is a common problem for many cats. If your kitty is straining to poop, spending too much time in the litter box, and/or producing small, hard pellets instead of normal stool, this is likely the problem.

You can try tempting your cat to exercise and drink more water, add more fiber and moisture to her diet, or give an over-the-counter hairball remedy to lubricate the digestive tract. If these home remedies do not work, or your cat has gone three or more days without a bowel movement, it is time to seek help from your vet.

According to WebMD, constipation in cats can be caused by:

  • Over-grooming, which leads to extra hair in the digestive tract
  • Kidney problems
  • Feline megacolon 
  • Something blocking their colon, such as string or bones
  • Diets that don’t have enough fiber
  • Problems inside the colon, such as tumors or narrow places
  • Spinal problems or pain

Monitoring your cat’s poop won’t tell you everything about her health, but it can certainly be a useful tool. Be sure to feed a high-quality diet with plenty of fiber, offer unlimited fresh water, and keep an eye out for changes in her stool as she ages.

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