I have this vivid memory of when I was little where my Mom was talking with her friend about her baby’s diaper contents. I was totally grossed out, but she laughed and said, “just wait one day you’ll talk about poo too.” While she turned out to be correct, I don’t think she had cat poo in mind!
So, let’s get started. Most poo issues with resolve by themselves after a day or two. If your fur baby is eating and drinking as usual, try to be patient. If the changes continue beyond a couple of days, give your vet a call. They may want you to come in for a check up.
So what’s normal?
Poo can be a great indicator of your fur baby’s overall health, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any changes. The average kitty will poo at least once per day. The poo should be deep brown in color, well formed (not too hard, not too mushy), and the smell, while stinky, shouldn’t be shocking to your senses. If your kitty’s poo goes from stinky to OMG ARE YOU ROTTEN INSIDE??, make an appointment with your vet. This probably goes without staying, but blood in the stool is not normal and requires a vet’s expert advice. Beyond normal, we have two ends of the spectrum, constipation and diarrhea.
If you catch your kitty in the litter box just standing there trying to potty, but nothing is happening (or only little pellets are being expelled), s/he might be constipated. This can be common for kitties eating dry food because they aren’t consuming enough water. Consider adding a scoop of wet food at mealtime to add in some extra fluids.
Other common causes of constipation include kidney problems, which is very common in aging cats. Overgrooming can lead to excessive hair in the digestive tract, which can also lead to a backup. Low fiber diets and health issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may also be the cause.
Talk to your vet about some natural remedies to resolve bouts of constipation. They may recommend pumpkin to add some dietary fiber or a hairball remedy if your kitty is an over-groomer. Inflammatory disease may require a prescription diet or medication.
On the flip side, we have diarrhea. I have one kitty that poos outside the litterbox when her tummy is feeling especially bad. While this can be frustrating, it’s best not to scold her because cats connect the reprimand to fear of the pet parent instead of understanding the unwanted behavior. Keep in mind that diarrhea that lasts more than a day or two can cause dehydration, so don’t let this issue continue over a long period of time.
There are so many possible causes of diarrhea, but some of the most common include dietary sensitivities (ex. dairy) or allergies (ex. protein source), IBD, Hyperthyroidism, and yes the dreaded C word… cancer.
Diarrhea that does not quickly resolve will likely require at a minimum, bloodwork from your vet in order to try to identify the root cause. A short stint of prednisolone or metronidazole may be given to reduce inflammation and clear up the runny stool while a firm (pun intended) diagnosis can be determined. If IBD is found a daily medication may be needed to induce remission. If a food allergy is suspected a diet change will likely be recommended.
What to expect at the vet
If you end up needing to bring your little one into the vet, get ready to talk all about poo. You vet may even share a poo consistency chart with you to help identify what you’ve been seeing in the litter box. Be prepared to explain when you noticed the change, any changes to your kitty’s diet, and any other stressors that may have been recently introduced. When possible, I also like to take a picture of the poo to capture the consistency and amount (if present) of blood. Your vet may recommend additional tests to further refine treatment options.
Does your kitty have digestive issues? What do you do as at home remedies?