What Does Blood in Cat Diarrhea Mean?
Blood in cat diarrhea means there is bleeding within the gastrointestinal system.
Bloody diarrhea is not a disease on its own – it is a symptom indicating an underlying condition. Some underlying causes of blood in cat diarrhea are life-threatening and require immediate vet attention.
Is Bloody Diarrhea in Cats an Emergency?
Yes, blood in cat diarrhea is an emergency.
Regardless of whether the bloody diarrhea is an isolated sign or the cat shows other worrisome symptoms, you should see a DVM as soon as possible.
The situation is even more difficult for cats with chronic diseases like IBD, megacolon, or colitis. Also, bloody diarrhea in cats requires immediate veterinary help if it is paired with life-threatening signs like difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness.
Note that a bloody stool is not the same as bloody diarrhea. The bloody stool has a normal texture, while cat diarrhea is loose and is usually a cause for concern, especially in combination with blood.
Why Is My Cat Having Bloody Diarrhea?
Blood in cat diarrhea can be caused by many issues. Here are some of the most common causes of blood in cat poo.
- Dietary Changes. Sudden cat food changes can trigger bloody diarrhea. When introducing a new food, make the transition gradual to give the cat’s GI tract time to adapt to the new food.
- Food Allergies. Food intolerances and allergies can also be the culprit for bloody diarrhea in cats. These issues are tricky to diagnose and manage.
- GI Tract Ulcers. Ulcers are wounds in the gastrointestinal tract that can lead to blood in fecal matter. They can be caused by severe and prolonged irritation or can appear as a side effect of certain medications.
- Intestinal Parasites. Parasites in the intestinal tract, such as worms (roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms) and protozoa (Giardia and Coccidia), can cause blood in cat diarrhea.
- Bacterial Infections. Certain bacterial infections can irritate the GI tract and cause bloody diarrhea. Such bacteria would be E. coli and Salmonella.
- Viral Infections. Viral infections can be the reason for blood in cat diarrhea. One common virus causing this issue is feline panleukopenia.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This is among the most common causes of bloody stool in cats. The vet will request x-rays, biopsy, blood work, and additional diagnostics to determine the problem.
- Colitis. This is the inflammation of the colon, which could be because of an underlying cause. This could lead to blood being present in the cat’s feces.
- Foreign Body. If a cat accidentally swallows a foreign object, it can get lodged in the digestive tract and cause bleeding. This is life-threatening and requires immediate veterinary care.
- Rectal Polyps. Polyps are benign or non-cancerous masses that can form in the rectum and cause straining to defecate, diarrhea, and blood in the stool.
- GI Tract Tumors. Tumors in the gastrointestinal system are a cause of blood in the cat’s stool. Luckily, gastrointestinal tumors are not particularly common in cats.
- Poison Ingestion. Ingestion of poison often results in blood in cat diarrhea. Common poisons are certain human foods, plants, human meds, and household chemicals.
What Should I do if My Cat has Blood in their Stool?
The most important thing to do in the case of blood in cat diarrhea is to seek veterinary help. If this is not an option, there are several things and home remedies worth trying.
- Give Bland Diet. This is especially useful if you or your vet suspects food to be the cause of bloody diarrhea. A bland diet is easy to make and gentle on the cat’s stomach.
- Fresh Water Access. Ensure your cat has constant access to fresh drinking water. This helps replace the water lost with loose stools and frequent defecation.
- Monitor your Cat. Pay attention to how the situation develops and seek help if your cat shows additional signs and symptoms like vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, fever, and lethargy.
When Should I Worry About Blood in My Cat’s Stool?
The presence of blood in a cat’s stool is always problematic. However, you need immediate help if the issue is accompanied by additional signs and symptoms, such as vomiting, lethargy, or fever.
The type of blood in the cat’s poop matters too. Namely, bright red blood (hematochezia) indicates bleeding in the lower parts of the gastrointestinal tract (large intestine – colon and rectum) or even the anal glands. The presence of fresh blood is less severe than the presence of digested blood.
Digested blood (melena) is black and tarry and looks like coffee grounds. It is indicative of bleeding in the upper parts of the GI tract (stomach and small intestine).
Since blood in cat diarrhea rarely occurs on its own, it is advisable to see a vet and determine the underlying condition as early as possible.
To do this, the vet will request the cat’s medical history and perform a physical examination. Then, based on the findings and test results, the vet can suggest treatment options.