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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
You might prefer to give your cat privacy while they do their business. But if you don’t routinely inspect what they leave behind in the litter box, now might be a good time to start. “Evaluating your cat’s poop isn’t glamorous, but it can give you vital information about their health,” says Dr. Paige Baker, DVM, IndeVets regional medical director. Generally, a healthy cat’s poop should have a chocolate brown color and a cylindrical sausage-like shape. It should also hold its shape when you pick it up with a litter scooper. As for how many times a day your cat should poop? It depends. According to 2022 research on defecation habits in cats, 85% of healthy cats pooped at least once daily. However, some cats may go more or less often.
Since cats are masters at masking pain and illnesses, abnormal poop can clue you into a medical condition before you notice other symptoms. “Understanding what is normal and what is not can help you identify potential health issues early and take appropriate interventions,” Baker says. You can spot potential issues in your cat’s poop by paying attention to variants in the usual color and consistency or by looking for foreign objects tagging along. The cat poop chart and categories below can help you understand the variations in detail.
A Complete Cat Poop Color Chart
|Cat Poop Color||What It Means|
|Red||Blood in stool|
|Yellow||Food dyes, liver, or gallbladder problems|
|Orange||Food dyes, liver, or gallbladder problems|
|Green||Bacterial/parasitic infections, plant material, dietary changes, or certain food dyes|
|Black||Active bleeding in your cat’s digestive tract|
4 Types Of Cat Poop Consistency
Besides an abnormal color, poop with different consistences suggests various health problems. Below, we break down the four most common poop consistencies and what they mean. If you’re worried about your cat’s poop, go set a veterinarian.
Runny or watery poop (diarrhea) can have several causes. Possible culprits include the following. Dr. Baker advises pet parents to take their cats to the vet if they have diarrhea more than 2-3 times.
- Dietary intolerances or allergies
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Auto-immune disorders
- Gastrointestinal cancer
If your cat has diarrhea, there are several different ways to help bring it back to normal consistency. Dr. Candy Akers, DVM and holistic veterinarian, suggests these three methods.
- Adding probiotic supplements: Give your cat probiotic food or supplements to aid digestion.
- Upping their fiber: Add extra fiber to your cat’s diet, such as plain pumpkin puree or psyllium husks.
- Changing their diet: If a change in diet causes your cat’s diarrhea, Dr. Akers suggests gradually reverting to the previous diet over 7-10 days.
Dr. Baker explains that dry or hard stool could indicate dehydration, a lack of fiber in your cat’s diet, or another digestive problem. If your cat is constipated or straining to poop, they could have an obstruction in their intestines, which requires immediate medical attention. You should also look out for other symptoms, such as vomiting or lethargy.
“Sticky or pasty feces could be a sign of a lack of fiber in their diet, an absorption disorder of the gastrointestinal system, or occasionally a problem with their anal sacs,” Dr. Baker says.
Feces with a slimy consistency could suggest mucus, which parasites or other possible conditions might cause. The slime on your cat’s poop will be clear, and some is normal since mucus helps prevent inflammation in the colon. However, mucus becomes a problem when it’s more frequent.
What’s Inside My Cat’s Poop?
When scooping out the litter box, you may be able to identify hair, some kinds of parasites, and foreign items your cat probably shouldn’t have swallowed. Here’s how you can identify common additions to your cat’s poop.
If your cat has a parasitic infection, those intestinal invaders might show up on their way out. To help you identify them, Dr. Akers’ described three common parasites you might find in your cat’s poop and what they look like.
- Roundworms: Long and thin worms resembling spaghetti. They can be white or light brown and range from a few to several inches long.
- Tapeworms: Flat, ribbon-like worms that can be several inches long. They may break into smaller segments, which look like grains of rice.
- Hookworms: Small, thin worms, usually less than an inch long. Hookworm infestations can cause dark, tarry feces due to internal bleeding.
If you’ve discovered parasites in your cat’s poop, head to the vet for deworming medication.
Dr. Akers explains that hair in your cat’s poop might be long, thin strands or clumps that match their fur. While hairy poop might seem bizarre, it’s common in cats and isn’t generally a cause for concern, she explains. But if you notice excessive hair or hairballs, you may need to address your cat’s grooming habits.
Dr. Akers says undigested food may appear in poop as small chunks of food, and their presence could suggest a digestive issue.
Other foreign objects
Lastly, you might find traces of other objects your curious kitty might’ve nibbled on without your knowledge, like pieces of an electrical cord or string. These objects can have varying appearances depending on the size, color, and type of material.
Regardless of their appearance, foreign objects can be dangerous if trapped in your cat’s digestive system. So, taking them for a check-up is best if you find non-edible items.
Why Does My Cat’s Poop Smell So Bad?
If your cat’s poop smells like a freshly opened septic tank: Don’t worry. That doesn’t necessarily indicate anything wrong.
Cat feces contains a particularly pungent smell-inducing compound — 3-mercapto-3-methyl-1-butanol (MMB). MMB is a sulfur-based compound, so if you’ve ever wondered why the aroma of cat poop strongly resembles rotten eggs, now you know.
How To Collect Cat Poop For Your Vet
Describing your cat’s feces to the vet or snapping photos can only get you so far. Sometimes, they want to see or test a sample to rule out specific health issues.
“To collect a cat’s stool sample for your vet, gather a fresh sample using a disposable spoon or scoop, and place it in a sealable plastic bag or container.” Dr. Akers says. Labeling the sample with the current date and your cat’s name can also be helpful to avoid any potential confusion once you reach the vet’s office.
Scooping your cat’s poop in a plastic bag might not be the most fun chore — and neither is inspecting their poop in the first place. But by watching your cat’s litter box habits, you can spot potential health issues early and help them stay healthy and happy.