What is Blood in the Stool?
Blood in the stool in cats is a condition in which varying quantities of blood appear in your cat’s stool. There are two different types of blood in the stool, Hematochezia which appears as bright red blood and in smaller quantities, or black, tarry blood. Blood in the stool is typically a symptom of an underlying condition. Blood in the stool can result from common and minor ailments or may be an indication of serious underlying infection or sickness. While this is not an emergency condition, if the blood in the stool persists for more than short periods of time or occurs frequently, you should seek veterinary care for your cat.
Symptoms of Blood in the Stool in Cats
The main symptom of blood in the stool in your cat will be the presence of bright red or dark brown to black blood. This symptom may occur on its own or in combination with other signs such as:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Mucus in the stool
- Inappropriate defecation in other parts of home
- Frequent unproductive trips to the litterbox
- Lack of appetite
- Increased thirst
Blood in the stool in cats typically occurs in one of two different forms. Bright red blood in small or trace quantities is generally an indication of an underlying irritation or inflammation in the intestinal tract. This type of blood in the stool is referred to as hematochezia.
Dark brown, black, tarry or coagulated blood in the stool is typically an indicator of irritation or other source of blood further up in the intestinal tract or stomach. The black color of the blood can occur when stomach acids begin breaking down the blood.
Causes of Blood in the Stool in Cats
Blood in the stool in cats can be caused by a number of irritants or infections. Common causes may include:
- Change in food causing upset stomach
- Consumption of too much human food
- Eating too much
- Colitis or inflammation of the colon
- Protozoa infections such as giardia or coccidia
- Panleukopenia caused by exposure to parvovirus
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Trauma to the rectum
- Idiopathic or unknown causes
Diagnosis of Blood in the Stool in Cats
Diagnosis of blood in the stool of your cat will require your vet to diagnose the underlying condition that is causing the symptom. During the initial veterinary exam you should provide your vet with a complete history of your cat’s symptoms. Noting whether your cat is also suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, whether they have been eating regularly, and any other behavioral changes will be important. You should provide your veterinarian with information on the type of food your cat eats, as well as if there have been any dietary or lifestyle changes in the household that may have induced the symptoms.
Your vet will then use the information you have provided, the results of his physical exam of your cat, and tests of bodily fluids to perform a differential diagnosis. A differential diagnosis is a method of diagnosing a condition by differentiating it from other conditions that share similar symptoms.
Your veterinarian will most likely perform a fecal smear of your cat’s stool in order to check for parasites that may be irritating your cat’s intestine. This is typically performed quickly in your vet’s office. Your vet will also test in-office for parvovirus using a similar fecal test. Your vet may order blood work, which will give a detailed report on your cat’s white blood cell count and may help identify the presence of any infection.
If these tests come back negative, your vet may perform more detailed analyses. These may include an ultrasound of the abdomen, x-rays, or colonoscopy to provide images of your cat’s digestive tract. For most of these procedures, your cat will need to be sedated or anesthetized so that a clear image can be obtained.
Treatment of Blood in the Stool in Cats
Treatment of blood in the stool of your cat will depend on the underlying condition causing the symptom. If food is the suspected culprit, your vet may recommend a bland or prescription diet to help eliminate irritation. Food changes should generally be done gradually to eliminate additional digestive upset. For stress related colitis, you and your veterinarian should discuss ways to eliminate stress from your cat, up to including prescription medication for anxiety or nervousness.
For parasites, your vet will administer appropriate medications and will also recommend a regular parasite prevention treatment such as orally administered regular medicines or routine yearly shots. For more serious infections such as coccidia, giardia or parvovirus, your cat may need temporary veterinary hospitalization in order to stabilize their condition and treat with strong antibiotics. In any case of extreme diarrhea or dehydration, your veterinarian may administer IV fluids to help stabilize your cat while they undergo treatment.
Recovery of Blood in the Stool in Cats
Prognosis for a cat experiencing blood in its stool will depend on the underlying cause, but for most cases is excellent to good. In the case of severe infections, your veterinarian may choose to allow your cat to recover at their office where it can receive around the clock medical care. In many cases, blood in the stool will resolve shortly after treatment or altering of diet. If your cat has been diagnosed with sensitivities to types of food you should develop a plan to avoid accidental consumption of the irritating ingredients.
For most cases of blood in the stool, your cat will heal with time and appropriate care and will have a normal happy and healthy lifespan.
Blood in the Stool Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I've been feeding my 8 year old make tabby cat fancy feast and he's been vomiting multiple times a day 3-5 times a day. Also, he has blood in his stool, is the canned food too harsh for his stomach?
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