Cat parents are lucky. We’ve got easy, consistent access to one of the clearest indicators of our cat’s health.
Your cat’s poop can tell you a lot – a lot – about the state of her health. Here’s what your cat’s poop is telling you.
Your Cat’s Poop Is…Hard
When your cat’s poop is harder than usual, it’s usually caused by dehydration. Since water is what gives poop its moist, sticky consistency, a lack of water can indicate your cat’s body isn’t processing H2O like it’s supposed to. Dehydration can actually be an early symptom of kidney disease in cats which can develop into something quite serious over time. It might also be caused by a lack of moisture in your cat’s diet or by other dietary issues.
Your Cat’s Poop is…Long and Thin
If your cat’s poop is long and thin, like ribbons, and it hasn’t always been that way, she might be having trouble getting it out. The shape of your cat’s poop tells you a lot about how much effort it takes her to expel her feces; long, stringy poops can mean your cat has some kind of growth in her colon, like a tumor. They might also be an early indicator of constipation, which you can work with your vet to resolve.
Your Cat’s Poop is…Black and Tarry
“Black” poop is more likely bloody poop. If your cat’s poop looks like tar and/or has a smell that’s more pungent than usual, contact your vet right away. This could be a sign of a serious stomach issue like an ulcer, or even of intestinal bleeding.
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Your Cat’s Poop is…Gooey
Note that there’s a difference in poop that’s gooey and poop that’s liquidy. Liquid diarrhea is much more serious but usually clears up relatively quickly. (If it doesn’t, call the vet.) Gooey poop can be the result of a dietary insufficiency…perhaps your cat’s system won’t tolerate one of the ingredients in her food or maybe she just needs more fiber. Consult with your vet to figure out how to conduct an at-home food trial.
Your Cat’s Poop is…Speckled or Striped
Uh oh. Your cat might have worms. Roundworms appear in poop like noodles of spaghetti. Tapeworms live inside their hosts but bits and pieces break off over time, appearing like little rice grains in poop. If you notice any foreign bodies in your cat’s poop you don’t recognize – or if its consistency is overly greasy or foamy – talk to your vet about potential parasitic causes.
Your Cat’s Poop is…Nonexistent
Constipation can be a real medical indicator. In some cases, constipation is caused by a lack of fiber or water, or even through over-grooming as fur slows down the movement of poop through the digestive system. In other cases, acute constipation could mean that your cat has a blockage in her intestines or that she’s suffering from thyroid or kidney disease. In less common circumstances, constipation in (male) cats can be a medical emergency. If your cat seems to be straining or struggling to poop, reach out to your vet. Note that it’s considered “normal” for a cat to poop about once every 24-36 hours.
Remember that every adjective used to describe your cat’s poop is subjective. What’s “hard” for your cat might not be all that hard for someone else’s. Only you know what looks out of the ordinary. Any noticeable changes in your cat’s poop, in fact, are one of the most surefire signs you need to call the vet.