My Cat has Blood in its Stool – What Should I Do?

picture of a cat with green eyes

It can be terrifying to discover that your cat has blood in its stool. The presence of blood in the stool, or “hematochezia” can be a result of a minor intestinal upset, or a symptom of many more serious medical conditions.

Bleeding in the lower intestines, such as the colon and the rectum, generally causes hematochezia. It is characterized by the presence of bright, frank blood in the feces. Hematochezia should not be confused with melena, the passage of dark, tar-colored feces, caused by bleeding that occurs higher up in the intestinal tract.

If your cat has blood in its stool on only one occasion, and otherwise appears to be eating, drinking and acting normally, the cause may simply be a minor gastrointestinal upset, such as eating too much, eating a unfamiliar food, or eating something that does not agree with him. Some cats are especially sensitive to stress, and any sudden change in environment, such as adding a new pet to the household, having a baby or even a schedule change can induce colitis. Changing food brands suddenly can also cause this condition, as cats often require a gradual change of food in order to adjust without complications.

However, if your cat has any repeated episodes of blood in the stool, if he appears lethargic or depressed, or the blood is accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting, it can be a sign of a severe medical problem requiring veterinary assistance.

The most common cause of blood in the stool in cats is colitis, or inflammation of the colon. Colitis is a symptom of various gastro-intestinal disorders, and identifying the cause of the inflammation can be difficult.

When colitis occurs, inflammation of the colon causes the cells in the lining of the intestines to separate, becoming permeable and allowing water and secretion to leak out. Motility of the gut is affected, as is the ability of the colon to absorb water and store feces. This leads to frequent diarrhea, often with mucous and blood, as the food in the intestines passes through the colon before nutrients and water are utilized by the body.

Aside from blood in the stool, cats with colitis will defecate frequently, with very little stool actually being passed, and strain repeatedly in the litterbox. Because the biggest complication of colitis is rapid dehydration, veterinary attention should be sought anytime your cat has blood in its stool and diarrhea. Your veterinarian can treat the dehydration, as well as help to identify and treat the underlying causes.

Parasites are a common cause of colitis and bloody stools in kittens. Kittens typically acquire roundworms through the milk of an infected mother. Adult cats can acquire the parasite by eating a rodent or other animal that was affected with the parasite. These long, spaghetti like parasites can cause severe signs in young animals, including vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, coughing and gagging. If left untreated, the worms can cause pneumonia, intestinal obstructions and death.

Protozoa infections, such as Giardia and Coccidia, occur when a single-celled parasite is ingested via contaminated soil, food or water. This parasite can cause an array of gastrointestinal issues, from an occasional bout of soft stools to a severe episode of vomiting, diarrhea and hematochezia.

In unvaccinated cats and kittens, feline Panleukopenia can be a devastating disease. Also known as feline distemper, Panleukopenia is caused by the parvovirus and is highly contagious from cat to cat. It is of especially great concern in shelters, catteries and boarding facilities where it can remain active and infectious in the environment for months or even years. The virus is especially dangerous to kittens who have not fully developed their immune systems, and can cause a high fever, vomiting, nasal discharge, respiratory signs, diarrhea, hematochezia, dehydration and death.

In older cats that develop hematochezia, one of the main concerns is inflammatory bowel disease. Cats with IBD develop a chronic level of inflammatory cells in the gastrointestinal tract, and can affect the mucosa of different areas: the small intestine (enteritis), colon (colitis) and stomach (gastritis).

Unlike colitis that occurs due to a temporary intestinal upset, cats with IBD develop an inflammatory response in their intestines that does not resolve. The exact causes are unknown, but its origin has been linked to food sensitivities, bacteria in the intestinal tract, and immune system dysfunctions.

Left untreated, in the short run IBD can lead to poor digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as abdominal discomfort. Over time, the chronic inflammation can lead to scaring of the mucosa, and studies have shown that the scaring often leads to the development of lymphoma, a type of cancer, in the intestines.

Blood in the stool can also be attributed to more external causes, such as trauma to the rectum, anal gland abscesses, or tumors and polyps in the rectum.

If your cat has had more than one episode of blood in its stool, a veterinarian should examine him or her to rule out possible causes. Routine fecal screening can help to detect and eradicate internal parasites before they are able to cause severe damage to your pets’ intestinal tract. In addition, a fecal cytology can detect the presence of bacteria such as salmonella in the feces. A complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry analysis can help to access your cats general level of health, and may provide clues to possible viral or other causes.

Radiographs may be recommended to rule out an intestinal obstruction or blockage, and an ultrasound exam can help to diagnose any potential tumors, as well as access the condition of the intestines. If the bowel appears thickened, scarred or abnormal on the ultrasound, your veterinarian may recommend further tests to see if IBD, or even lymphoma may be causing your cats symptoms.

Regardless of the cause of the blood in the stool, cats that are having repeated episodes of diarrhea or vomiting may need to be hospitalized so that their dehydration can be corrected with IV fluids, and that medicine can be administered to control vomiting. Depending on the cause of the hematochezia, treating your cat may be as simple as administering a dewormer or changing his food, but only your veterinarian can determine what is causing your cats symptoms.



20 Responses

  1. Beware of Vets, ( There are MANY!) That offer cat & dog food that can make your friend sick, & tear up their insides….Kind of like a car mechanic that puts in cheap parts, only to have you return & offer up More $$$$. Remember this is a Business, not a labor of love. You may realize this after they turn you away for lack of funds, or sell you a drug, that will INSURE” your constant return. Look first at what your feeding your friend. We had Vets offer Purina crap chow….Science diet….These so called foods are reportedly given to Vets & hospitals by the pallet full For Free” as the manufacturer believes ( rightly so) that after you buy from your tRuStEd vet, you will continue to Buy for years to come. If you truly care about your friend, take the time to Investigate the food your giving your cat or dog. Cats love rats,birds,mice,rodents, & can live long healthy lives. Feed them a unhealthy bagged food, that’s actually slow poison, & you can guarantee, your vet will be happy to take your $$$$, til death do you part.

    1. You don’t think that out of all the thousands of vets in the world, just one would have ever let on that there is a vast conspiracy between each and every vet in the world and pet food manufactures.

      I know vets personally, and they wouldn’ t hurt a fly, let alone knowingly feed a cat bad food for money.

      You are paranoid.

    2. What drugs are you on, you obviously know nothing about animal nutrition , so you have no right to comment on commercial foods that ARE complete balanced diets – unlike rats and mice that you let your cat eat(probably full of parasites and diseases) .

    3. Honestly dude get off the drugs! Just stumbled onto this wonderful website AFTER my cat busted out the frame of my window then went MISSING for 40+ hours now back home. My cat ate I trust to be a mouse full of parasites probably poisoned so now my cat will be seen as an Emergency at the Vet who chose me the best dog food ever! I already had the best in urinary health for my cats. Still, you’re DISTURBED to think a cat or dog will live a long healthy life if you feed them rats, birds, mice, rodents which is a prescription to live a short life. Pick the RIGHT Vet that won’t take you to the Cleaners next time! Pick Nutro Lamb/rice dog food in small bites they’ll love it more so than the dead rats all road kill you’re killing your pets with.

  2. My cat is a little over one year old. She is part Serval and part domesticated short hair. I got her from the locatl SPCA when she was a kitten about 4 months old. She has had her shots and is spayed. She has been on the same diet for all this time with no problem. There was recently a murder in my complex, on the level below us. I also recently went back to work on the night shift and my cat was left alone all night. She has always been an inside cat and I have been at home with her day and night. Now, in the past two weeks she has started to have frank blood in her stools. The stools are normal – as in not hard or constipated appearing, and about the same consistency as always before. The difference also besides the bright red blood is that she will not use her litter box for her bowel movements. She will still use it to urinate but not for bowel movements. Does anyone have any ideas as to what is causing this? She acts normal, as in, she plays, runs around, sleeps a normal pattern and eats and drinks a normal amount. There are no changes in her behavior, appetite or surroundings. I also have stopped working and am at home with her full time again. She is the only pet in my house and there are no other “visitors.”

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Did you receive a reply to your cat’s symptoms and litter box behavior? I ask because my 10yr old male tabby has seemingly the same. My cat seems by most means himself but has taken to pooping outside his box and I have noticed two times when hints of bright red mucus have been on parts of his poop. My cat also has a rather larger belly. His belly is kinda more firm to the touch while a bit larger. He shows no reaction to pain if touching or pressing his belly. It seems like a taunt putter belly skin. He has grown litter box avoider about 50/50 and returns to using it.

      I do not and have not noticed him eating the equivalent for weight gain and I have cut his food intake some to see if his belly size deceased. The size has diminished only slightly. He has a possibility of obtaining food from the wild when he ventures out to the yard but I am skeptical he’s been catching enough or any prey to overeat.

      By all else…He’s appears happy and pain-free.

      Hope your cat is feeling better,


      1. Hi Walt, did you ever find out what was going on with your kitty? My 13 year old has a similar issue and the vet can’t see him until next week. I am worried sick.

  3. Thank you for your reply, Walt. I took my cat to her vet and had several tests done, all which are negative. The vet suggested I take her off her dry food and just feed her the canned “wet” food for awhile to see if that helps. It did help a lot. When I put her back on the dry food, her problem returned. Since then, I am feeding her exclusively the wet food and she has had no more problems.

  4. I’ve seen several articles recommending wet instead of dry. But, my thoughts are either way the owner needs to be sure the food is well balanced and without synthetic chemicals, colors and flavoring and most importantlyit is correct for the cat’s age so that the nutrients can be digested. As far as what a “rescue agency” provides to the adoptive humans or sends the remainder of a pkg home, it may be what is fed to every feline for convenience or what was donated & altho the cat seems to be doing “fine” on it, the contents take time for damage to occur to the gastric system. Not that the agency means any harm as they figure the animal is going to have a short stay & the new owners will take over the feeding.

  5. Hi my name is Sarah, and I recently realized that my cat has been using the box a lot and today she decided to rub her bottom on the carpet today and then started having , diarrhea along with light red blood in it.
    Now we have two dogs and three cats and I keep thinking that it could be the food she is eating around the house.. can’t really stop from playing with everyone and seeking out the bowls unless I keep her in a room by herself until it passes. I caught her eating our husky’s food a few times but she stopped doing that after I caught her, our oldest cat eats a different brand of food then her and our kitten is on kitten chow, I had to change my cats food to a cheaper brand. today is the only day that I see her having diarrhea along with blood, last time this happen she had worms and I treated her for that. and I don’t know what it could be this time and I don’t wanna be overcharged to get her checked if it isn’t anything terrible. (she eats perfectly fine, drinks plenty of water, and act normal, running around and what not.)

    1. Hi , was it something the kitten had?
      Same here ,I live in west central wi.
      All 5 kittens I found out had soft stool with bright red blood bunched in one area of the stool.

  6. I noticed my cat of 22 years has been doing the same thing..pooing outside the box but pees in..i think it has to do with not getting in a box thats been used ones unless they HAVE to to keep there feet from getting peepeed on..i quit using the box altogetger and got these AMAZING weewee pads in the dog section…sooooooooo much easier than cat litter and very clean. No more lugging home that heavy bag ever! They are quite expensive but worth every single penny!hope this helps 🙂

  7. healthycat ….. you are clearly some sort of delusional nutcase

    as a vet nurse i assure you we DONT get pallets of free food from anybody
    and dont ever sell a food that would make an animal sick
    you are crazy

  8. Hi Wait
    My cat has similar symptoms to your cat with the swollen belly and blood in the poo. I’ve googled and they say a few different things but as everyone else I don’t want to waste money at the vet as everyone does to find nothing. I have been a little short of money lately so I changed their food to a cheaper brand of both dry and wet food but I might try and give her whiskers or something better even fresh chicken. Anyone else got ideas? Im worried it could be something more serious cos she’s been doing it for a week or so. It took me a while to work out which cat it is until today and I saw her poop. I’m going to try these options first before I pay the outrages vet prices. I’ve spent $7,000 on my dog in the last 18 months and im sick of paying ridiculous prices for our beautiful fur babies. I also pay pet insurance of $50 a month. Why do vets take advantage of pet lovers? It’s cheaper for humans to get sick!!

  9. I have a kitten she is 4 months old and since i got her she has had loose stools a with some blood in it. I’ve been to the vet a few times, the first she had worms and coccidia, got treatment for that… but continued with loose stool and blood. Took her again, more d wormers treatment, but the problem continues, stool tests, a few more times, nothing showed. She had treatment with metronidazol …. etc, etc…. anyways, she still have blood in her stool, not diarrhea, but soft stool. She was treated again with other type of dewormer and is on vet prescription diet. But the problem still there. I’ve been to different vets, just to see if i could find a reason why she continues to have that problem. But i just feel i am spending money and not having an answer. Does anyone had this kind of problem? She acts normal, plays, eat and drinks. The only thing is the blood.

    1. hi patRICIA my cat is having the same issue
      he had treatment with metronidazol
      blood test
      WE TREAT HIM FOR deformer he play normal not loosing any weight
      please let me know I’m wasting money and sleep I really don’t know what to do

  10. I recently adopted a 6 month old kitten and now notice she has a touch of bloody stool.
    The place where I adopted her from mentioned a vet said to feed her pumpkin…Canned pumpkin. I will try that again and only feed her wet food and see how she does.

  11. Our cat (male, long hair, 6 yrs, neutered, indoor only) started having issues with bloody stools. He had fecal testing done and all was negative. I did some research and found that fish can cause bowel issues for some cats, so we purchased all food, both wet and dry, with no fish. Within a couple of days there was no more blood. One time, a couple of months later, we saw some blood droplets, and the only difference in his diet had been some cat treats I had given him. Didn’t even cross my mind. They were simply treats, right? I checked and, sure enough… fish. Eliminated those immediately, and no issues since. Poor little guy.

  12. I’ve got 2 cats. One all black female I’ve had since she was weaned from her mom and one shelter rescue who is male aged 11 months. I’m not sure which one of them is having the bloody stools. So I’m taking both into my vet Monday morning with the most recent bloody poo outside of the litter box. This is the second bloody poop I’ve seen but this last one had a quarter sized blood clot in it. I wish I knew which one is having the bloody stools but hopefully my vet can figure it out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.