Believe it or not but your cat’s poop will tell you a lot about his or her health. Whenever you scoop out the litter box — whether you’ve just adopted your first kitten or you’ve shared your home with cats for years —watch for a few key signs.
In “The Scoop on Cat Poop” reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM, Hilary Parker stressed it is important to take note of the color, smell and hardness or softness of your cat’s poop. These will tell you if your cat is sick or not.
Cat poop: What’s normal?
Most cats poop at least once a day. If your cat is healthy, the poop should:
• Be deep brown in color
• Feel not too hard or too soft or mushy
• Not smell too foul, though some odor is normal
Diarrhea is common in cats, and there are many reasons for this. “Sometimes, it comes and goes quickly. Other times, it can last for days, weeks, or months, or come back on a regular basis,” Parker said.
Diarrhea for 24 to 48 hours is not yet considered a big problem, unless you have an older cat or a kitten, which will require an assessment of the vet. “But if it lasts longer, your cat can get dehydrated, which can be dangerous,” Parker stressed.
Some of the common causes of cat diarrhea are:
• Changes to their diet or food allergies or intolerances
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Worms (intestinal parasites)
• Pancreatic disease
You have to bring your cat to the vet if your cat has diarrhea that lasts for more than a day or two. The cause should be determined so that it can be addressed properly. Your cat will also need immediate hydration, most likely through IV fluid.
If the poop is black or bloody, bring your cat to the vet immediately. If the black and bloody poop is accompanied by fever, vomiting, sluggishness, or a loss of appetite, this is more serious, thus, medical intervention is needed immediately.
“The treatment your cat will need depends on what’s causing their diarrhea. Some will need prescription medications, such as metronidazole or prednisolone, to control inflammation. Your vet may recommend a special diet if they think a food allergy or intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or colitis is the problem. For some cats, a deworming medication or probiotics may also be needed,” Parker explained.
To prevent diarrhea, it is best to keep dairy products like milk or yogurt out of your cat’s diet. Many cats can’t digest them properly.
“Also, if you switch the brand or type of food you give them, be sure to introduce it over several days by mixing it with smaller and smaller amounts of the old food until they are eating only the new stuff,” Parker said.
A constipated cat will strain a lot when they try to poop or won’t be able to produce anything for the litter box. You don’t need to worry if it happens sometimes. But if it happens often, you should contact your vet.
Here are causes of constipation in cats, according to Parker:
1. Problems with the kidney.
2.Over-grooming that caused extra hair to get into the digestive tract.
3.Feline megacolon or when the colon becomes very large and its muscles no longer squeeze, which makes hard, dry stool build up inside.
4.Something blocking the colon such as a string or bones.
5.Diets that lack sufficient fiber.
6. Problems inside the colon, such as tumors or narrow places.
7. Spine problems or pain.
“To ease your cat’s constipation, your vet may suggest that you give them more fiber, such as by adding canned pumpkin to their regular food. Or they might tell you to change to food that’s easier for your pet to digest. Hairball medications might also help,” Parker said.
Here are other suggestions to keep your cat healthy:
1. Exercise is also very good for your cat.
2. Encourage your cat to drink more water so that waste will move through their system more easily.
3. Talk to your vet about any poop problems your cat has.