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feline health problems
Main coon cat in litter box

The essentials

  • Blood in your cat’s poop is a sign of inflammation — It can be linked to a series of health problems that range in severity.
  • Different types of bloody poop may indicate different problems — Bright red blood can be a sign of colon inflammation, whereas dark tar-like blood can be an indication that a cat is bleeding internally or has a stomach ulcer.
  • If you notice any type of blood in your cat’s stool, take them to the vet — A professional should evaluate your pet and provide information about treatment and care.

Is blood in a cat’s poop normal?

In short, no. Blood indicates inflammation. There are many potential causes, some more serious than others. Your cat will need to be seen by a vet to determine what’s going on and how emergent the health issue is.

Common causes of bloody stools in cats

There’s no one cause of bloody cat poop. It can occur because of everything from constipation and diarrhea to internal bleeding. Extreme stress could also be a cause, as could an infected anal gland. If you notice something red in your cat’s stool, they could be experiencing any of the following:

Diarrhea. If your cat has diarrhea, they will have frequent bowel movements, which can cause ulcers or wounds in the intestinal tract, creating bloody stool. This blood will be fresh and bright red.

Constipation. Constipation caused by an accumulation of hardened fecal matter in the colon can lead to excessive straining to pass stool, which can cause bleeding. Constipation is often the result of built-up hairballs (especially in long-haired cats) or the ingestion of a foreign object, but it rarely happens in young male cats. If your male cat is straining, they could be experiencing a life-threatening urinary blockage, which warrants immediate veterinary attention.

Polyps or tumors. Although infrequent, rectal polyps can develop in cats. They’re usually benign and don’t spread, but they tend to bleed easily and can cause a cat to have blood in their feces. In contrast, rectal tumors are more serious and can indicate lymphatic cancer. Both should be examined and diagnosed by your cat’s vet.

Gastrointestinal parasites. Parasites (such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and more) are a common problem in cats, with a frequency of up to 45% in some populations. Signs include bloody feces, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, mucus in feces, and a dull coat. If a cat has a GI parasite, the blood in their stool will oftentimes be dark and tar-like, an indication that it’s been digested.

Urinary tract infection. The blood you see in the litter box may be from your cat’s urine, in which case a UTI is probable. UTIs are a common problem in cats and should be diagnosed and treated by a professional.

Illness. An array of more serious illnesses, such as pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or colitis (inflammation of the colon), can cause there to be blood in your cat’s stool. Blood tests run by a veterinarian are necessary to arrive at a diagnosis.

Ingestion of a toxic substance. Poison may be the issue at hand, especially if you know your cat had access to or was around toxic substances such as rodenticides. If you suspect this to be the case, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately.

What to do if you notice blood in your cat’s poop

Spotting blood in your cat’s poop can be jarring, but it requires action. Stay calm and check off this to-do list.

Prepare to take your cat to the vet — Gather all of your pet’s travel essentials: a carrier, litter, food, and water, although your cat may resist eating if they’re in pain. Make sure your cat is as comfortable as possible in transport.

Collect a stool sample — If you can, bring a sample of your cat’s bloody stool — stored in a tightly sealed container — to the vet for examination. It will help the vet arrive at a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Pay attention to color and consistency — Fresh blood will be red, often streaking the surface of the stool, whereas black or tarry-looking stool is older blood that’s been partially digested. These characteristics will play a big role in your cat’s diagnosis.

Take note of volume — How much blood is there? This is important information for your vet to know.

Assess the situation — Your vet will need to know if your pet has ingested something toxic that may have caused the bleeding. Take note of your cat’s surroundings and any recent changes in their diet, like if you’ve recently switched your pet to a new type of food.

Additional symptoms to watch out for 

Bloody stool isn’t always an isolated symptom and can often come along with other worrisome signs, such as lethargy, vomiting, straining, refusal to eat or drink, diarrhea, and hard stool. Cats that have any of these symptoms need to be seen by a vet.

Diagnosing the cause

A number of tests might be required. Vets start with a physical examination and collect your cat’s medical history. Fecal testing, X-rays, an abdominal ultrasound, and blood and urine testing may also be required.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. Some cats may benefit from a probiotic. Others may need to undergo food testing to determine if they have an allergy. If a tumor or underlying condition is causing their GI issues, your vet will help determine your cat’s long-term treatment plan, which could involve surgery.

Preventing bloody feces in cats

Some of the causes of bloody feces in cats can’t be prevented. For some cats, switching to a high-fiber diet might be effective. It’s also important to keep up with routine parasite screenings, which are typically performed at your cat’s annual wellness checkup.

Frequently asked questions

Why does my cat’s poop have blood in it?

There are various reasons why you may spot blood in your cat’s poop. It could be the result of constipation, diarrhea, or a more serious problem like colitis or poison ingestion. If you see blood in your cat’s litter box, take them to the vet immediately.

Should I be worried if there’s blood in my cat’s feces?

Blood in your cat’s poop is never a good sign. Although the underlying cause is often treatable, it’s best to err on the side of caution and seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

What should I do if my cat has blood in their poop?

If your cat’s poop has blood in it, get them to the veterinarian where an exam, testing, and blood work can be done to determine what’s causing the issue.

Can stress cause bloody stools in cats?

Stress caused by big changes such as a move or other environmental changes can cause intestinal upset in a cat. In severe cases, this can lead to bloody stool.

Is blood in a cat’s stool an emergency?

Yes, especially if it’s bloody diarrhea. The presence of blood in your cat’s stool should be considered an emergency that warrants medical attention, especially when paired with other concerning symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, or lack of appetite.