Poop talks are often avoided because of the few obvious reasons. But the reality is, you can learn a lot from looking at your cat’s poop.
This could be used as a key to unlocking any unhealthy habit your cat has.
So every time you clean up its feces, it would be good to take a good look and watch out for abnormal signs.
Here’s a guide for cat owners out there if there is any need to go to a veterinary clinic. Hold on to your litter boxes; this will be a bit messy.
Cat’s Regular Bowel Movement
Just like in humans, cats should do their thing at least once daily. A healthy defecation for cats is 2 to 3 times a day according to Dr. Richard Goldstein of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Aside from the frequency, you should also be on the lookout for the appearance of the stool.
There are several factors that also determine the bowel movement of cats. Here are some of them:
- Cat’s Age
Kittens poop more often than adult cats. While as cats get older, there is the possibility of them skipping a day to defecate.
- Cat’s Diet
A cat that has been fed with dry food may have more difficulty in passing because of dry stools. Maintaining the water level in your cat’s body is crucial to keep the bowel movement normal. A sudden change in its diet may also cause an imbalance in its system that may cause diarrhea or affect the frequency of pooping. It is advised that slow introduction of food into a cat’s diet will prevent such abnormality.
- Activity Level
Cats that get more action have a higher probability of having a regular bowel movement. Exercise helps in a more efficient digestive system.
- Medical Condition
There may be medical conditions that bring about an abnormal bowel movement in cats. Illnesses such as inflammatory bowel diseases, megacolon, arthritis, parasites or hyperthyroidism can have an effect on defecation frequency.
- Environmental Factors
A stressful or unhealthy environment can usually cause constipation in cats. A possibility can be that they stray away from their litter boxes because they’re not cleaned daily. Social stress may also be a cause.
A normal cat stool should be not too hard nor not too soft, deep brown in color and the smell should not be foul than its normal. The stool should be easy for the cats to pass and the shape should be just like that of a log. Veterinarians use a fecal scoring chart done by Purina to determine if a cat’s poop is normal or not.
Basically, you need to look out for the color, consistency, any signs of coating or the stool contents. But you need not go any further since there are people who professionally do those things. If you think there is something wrong or a change in frequency that has lasted for more than two days, then it could be a sign of a problem.
These are common illnesses that are associated with cat feces:
This is one of the most common problems in cats. Unfortunately, for some cat owners, this has gone usually unnoticed because of the subtle hints it gives.
A constipated cat would have dry and hard feces either inside or outside of their litter boxes. If they haven’t pooped for two days, then it is constipation. You might also be able to observe vomiting, social changes like hiding, decreased appetite, lesser water intake, or even crying while defecating.
If your cat is dehydrated, then it may definitely result in constipation. It is caused by a low water level in the body. Dehydration causes stress in its kidney which in turn causes the feces to dry and hard to pass.
Other causes of constipation could be a traumatic injury like a fracture in the pelvis, infection, medication reaction, intestinal tumors, neurological disease, colon obstruction or megacolon.
Over-grooming can also be a cause because it tends to ingest a lot of hair into its stomach. Megacolon is where the large intestine stops functioning and there is the possibility of a blockage of feces.
You could help your cat’s constipation primarily by increasing its water intake. If it has been eating dry food, try adding in wet cat food because it contains at least 75% moisture.
You may also use over-the-counter products that will help alleviate its constipation but make sure that you consult your veterinarian before giving any of these remedies.
One is using Laxatone which is an edible petroleum gel that your cat may lick from your finger. This will help the motility in a cat’s stomach. Adding fiber is also an option such as Metamucil, wheat bran, and canned pumpkin. A stool softener like Miralax will also help by mixing ¼ tsp. once a day into the cat’s wet food.
It is still important to maintain a high activity level for your cat to avoid obesity. Increasing its play time may do wonders in easing your cat’s digestive system. Using a high fiber diet may not completely cure your pet’s constipation; it is still imperative to go to the veterinarian to check for any issues.
Veterinarians may give a treatment of intravenous fluid and suggest a change in the cat’s diet. There could be a few blood tests, urinalysis, and other tests to rule out urinary tract infection. Sometimes an ultrasound may be necessary.
The opposite of constipation would be loose bowel or commonly known as diarrhea. This may either be in short episodes and very sudden. But on the other side, it can also occur for weeks or even months. If you’ve seen it once, there’s no need to panic. But if it continues for more than two days, a trip to the clinic is a must.
Typical signs of diarrhea are loose or runny feces, frequent flatulence, or blood in mucus or stool. Other symptoms such as weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, and a decrease in appetite should be considered a medical emergency.
Diarrhea may be caused by a sudden change in diet or your pet might have eaten food that is not meant for cats such as dairy or spoiled food. An allergic reaction to a certain food may also be a culprit. Stomach infection, parasites or inflammatory bowel disease should also be considered.
There are diseases that cause diarrhea like kidney or liver disease, neurologic abnormality, cancer or stomach tumor, hyperthyroidism, Addison’s disease or colitis. Ingesting drugs or toxins by mistake can cause a disturbance in a cat’s intestine.
Change your cat’s diet if diarrhea starts. Hold off on the treats for the meantime. Provide more water to replace the electrolytes that disappear together with its stools. Revert to your cat’s original diet if you changed it recently and see if diarrhea stops.
You may also try giving probiotics for cats to balance their intestinal microflora. It can help in restoring the good bacterial population and reduce loose bowel movement.
Other cats respond to a low-fiber or highly digestible diet. This is advisable if your cat produces a lot of stool and the diarrhea only occurs once in a while. There are cat foods that are marketed as highly digestible and are good for those with sensitive stomachs. The crude fiber guaranteed analysis is usually at 3% as can be seen in the packaging.
If it still persists, you have to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
What to expect? The cat will be observed and will be tested for blood chemical profile, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis. X-ray is also done from time to time to see if your cat swallowed something that is irritating the stomach lining. It would be helpful as well to give the history of your cat’s health and diet.
You should be careful in giving human anti-diarrhea medications as this could be toxic to cats.
How to Help Your Cat Poop Regularly
Monitor the litter box every time you clean it and make sure that it is of the right size. The traditional litter box is sometimes uncomfortable for your cats. A good litter box that is long and wide with just the right depth would be the best.
Here are some veterinary terms that you may use to better communicate with your vet on your visit. They can help a lot and make describing the situation easier. They will make you feel smarter too.
- Melena – this is the black, tar-colored feces
- Haematochezia – feces that has blood in it, even if your cat is not experiencing diarrhea
- Tenesmus – is the difficulty of passing feces. If there is blood, then it is termed as colitis.
- Steatorrhea – extra smelly feces that is gray in color and is fatty-looking
- Dietary Indiscretion – a scientific way of saying the cat has eaten a strange item
- Borborygmy – a smarter term for the rumbling noises made in the stomach when it becomes upset.