Bloody Diarrhea in Cats

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Bloody Diarrhea in Cats: When it’s an Emergency

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec, DVM

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What Causes Bloody Diarrhea in Cats?

What Causes Bloody Diarrhea in Cats

The causes of bloody diarrhea in cats range from simple to very serious illnesses. Knowing the cause of your cat’s bloody diarrhea is very important as it is the first step in treating the problem. We’ve listed below the common causes of bloody diarrhea in cats:

  • Ulcers or wounds in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
  • Infections like bacterial, viral, or protozoa infections
  • Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, coccidia, and giardia
  • Food allergies
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Poisoning
  • Side effects of medication
  • Liver disease
  • Colitis or inflammation of the colon
  • Rectal polyps, a harmless clumps of cells that can become infectious or even cancerous. 
  • Panleukopenia, a viral disease caused by the feline parvovirus
  • Stress, usually triggered by events like noise or a sudden change in environment

Symptoms of Bloody Diarrhea in Cats 

The defining sign of bloody diarrhea in cats is the presence of bright red or dark spots in the stool. Along with this, a cat can have other signs and symptoms, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Accidental defecation incidents in and out of the litter box
  • Mucus in the cat’s stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst

Bloody diarrhea in cats is a symptom that rarely occurs on its own. It often is an indication of the presence of a more serious underlying condition. 

Types of Bloody Diarrhea in Cats 

Bloody diarrhea can be grouped into two categories: bright red blood or black tarry spots. 

Bright red blood in the stool, also known as hematochezia, is usually an indication of damage to the lower tract of the large intestine. This is because the fresh blood shows that it has not undergone any significant change before coming out in the stool.

Dark or tarry blood in the stool is usually an indicator of damage to the upper parts of the digestive tract like the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or small intestines. The darkness of the blood shows that the blood has gone through significant alterations which would happen in the upper GI tract.

How to Manage Bloody Diarrhea in Cats

What to do if your Cat has Bloody Diarrhea

If your cat has bloody diarrhea, seek immediate professional help. Call your vet as soon as you notice your cat has bloody diarrhea. Your vet will advise you on what to do next depending on your cat’s health and medical history.

If your cat is showing other signs like lethargy, take them to the veterinarian immediately. Take note of any changes in your cat’s behavior so you can describe it to your vet. If possible, take a sample of your cat’s poop so your vet can see it first hand.

As you wait to take your cat to the vet, you should start home remedies. This is very important as diarrhea can cause severe dehydration. Home remedies for cat diarrhea include providing fiber-rich foods to firm the stools and rehydration by stimulating the cat’s water appetite and adding electrolytes to the water. 

Is Bloody Diarrhea in Cats an Emergency?

Yes, bloody diarrhea in cats is an emergency. Regardless of whether the bloody diarrhea is an isolated sign or the cat is showing other worrisome symptoms, you need to see the vet as soon as possible.

Things are even more serious if your cat is living with a chronic disease like IBD and 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. A bloody stool is still normal in texture and appearance. Diarrhea is very loose and is usually a cause for concern especially in combination with blood. 

How do You Treat Bloody Diarrhea in Cats?

Since bloody diarrhea is only a sign your cat is not well, the treatment will depend largely on what is causing it. Some of the ways you can help the treatment of bloody diarrhea in cats include: 

  • Give a bland or prescription diet: This is especially useful if you or your vet suspects food to be the cause of bloody diarrhea. 
  • Lower your cat’s stress levels: You can do this by providing a calm environment for your cat and reducing the sources of stress at home.  
  • Provide fresh drinking water: This helps replace the water lost in the loose stools. 
  • Add fiber-rich foods to the menu: Foods rich in soluble fiber like fruits and vegetables add bulk to poo making it more firm. 
  • Use prescription antibiotics: Antibiotics may be necessary to fight infections if they are the cause of the bleeding. Antibiotic therapy can also be started in advance to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Practice regular deworming: Deworming can also be done to reduce the number of worms living in your cat’s gut. Preventive deworming is vital (you do not need to wait for issues to arise). 
  • Monitor your cat for other signs and symptoms: Pay attention to other worrisome signs and symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight loss. 
  • Monitor your cat’s progress: In particular, you should check if your cat’s poop is firming up or has blood in it. If you notice no change in your cat’s progress over a couple of days, see your vet again. 

How is the Recovery for Bloody Diarrhea in Cats 

Recovery for Bloody Cat Diarrhea

The prognosis for bloody stools in a cat is usually a good one. In most cases, your cat will go home with you and continue treatment and care there. 

However, if your vet sees the need, they may keep your cat at the office for a while. This is usually in cases where the cat needs special care like intravenous fluids (IV) fluids or strong antibiotic therapy. 

The prognosis will obviously be different if your cat is found to have a life-threatening condition like stomach cancer or pancreatitis. In this case, your cat will have to begin immediate and aggressive treatment. 

After you get home with your cat, the key to a quick and easy recovery is following your vet’s instructions. Your vet will most likely give you medication for your cat. You will also have to put your cat on a balanced diet to provide nutrients like vitamins, electrolytes, and water. 

Treatment for bloody diarrhea in cats can get expensive between all the tests and all the medications. To relieve yourself of some of the financial burden, invest in a good pet health insurance plan that can cover you in the event that your cat gets ill. 

We recommend OneVet pet insurance, which gives you unlimited 24/7 access to veterinary care for $19.99 a month. This plan covers up to 6 pets at no extra cost. You also get a yearly $3,000 emergency fund to cover life-threatening emergencies for your pet.