Scooping the litter box is almost everyone’s least favorite cat chore. It’s messy and smelly, and you’d probably do it with both eyes shut if you could. The truth is, poop trouble can be a warning sign for many medical conditions, including some serious ones. But how can you tell what poop is normal and what should be a cause for concern?
In this article, we’ve created a handy cat poop chart to help you make sense of what you see in the litter box. We’ll also tell you what normal cat poop looks like and let you know what to do if you notice abnormal pooping behavior. Finally, we’ll go more in-depth about what might be going on with your cat based on what their poop looks like.
So What Should Normal Cat Poop Look Like?
While there’s no hard and fast rule about what makes a cat poop normal, here are some general guidelines. Normal cat poop usually:
Cats typically poop 1-2 times per day, although this can vary based on how much they eat, what type of food, etc.
Cat Poop Chart
Normal cat poop is generally fairly consistent in appearance and frequency. In contrast, concerning cat poop can take on many textures, colors, and frequencies. Here’s a chart showing types of cat poop that could be concerning.
|What the Poop Looks Like||How Often It’s Happening||What It Means||What To Do|
|No poop at all, straining to poop||It’s not||Constipation obstipation||Call the vet|
|Small, hard pieces||Less than once a day||Constipation||Call the vet|
|Pudding-like||3+ times a day||Possible food sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease, upset stomach||Call the vet|
|Watery, liquid, normal color||3+ times/day||Diarrhea—multiple possible causes||Call the vet|
|Dark, tarry poop, any texture||Varies||Possible bleeding in the stomach or upper intestines||Call the vet–ASAP|
|Red color, visible blood in poop, any texture||Varies||Bleeding, usually in the anus, rectum, or lower intestines||Call the vet|
|Green color, any texture||Varies||Parasites, bacterial infection, something they ate, gallbladder problems||Call the vet|
|Mucus in poop, any texture||Varies||Irritation in the bowel, possible parasites||Call the vet|
|Yellow color, any texture||Varies||Liver issues, poisoning||Call the vet — ASAP|
|Orange color, any texture||Varies||Liver or gallbladder issue||Call the vet — ASAP|
Concerning Cat Poop: What Does It Mean?
Now, let’s look more closely at the concerning cat poop from our chart and what it could indicate in our feline friends.
Straining To Poop/Not Passing Poop
If your cat is straining to poop, it may be severely constipated or obstipated. Constipated cats may eventually poop, but it takes a lot of effort. Obstipated cats cannot poop at all and may be building up the stool inside their colon, making the situation worse.
Cats become constipated for many reasons, including hairballs, not drinking enough water, not eating enough fiber, or even a tumor. Obstipated cats often have a condition called megacolon, where the colon expands to an abnormal size and stops working properly.
Your vet may suggest several treatments for this condition, depending on the cause and severity.
Passing Small, Hard Poop
If your cat can poop, but it’s hard and small, you may be dealing with early constipation. Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water or offer canned food. Contact your vet for additional treatment options.
If your cat’s poop is a standard color but just seems less formed than usual, with a thick and pudding-like texture, there could be several causes. Generally, your cat will still poop at a fairly normal frequency, possibly slightly increased. Your cat could simply have an upset stomach, possibly from a food change or eating too much human food. Some cats will poop like this if they’re developing food allergies or inflammatory bowel disease.
Watery, Frequent Poop
If your cat’s poop progresses from a pudding-state to a watery liquid, you’re dealing with full-blown diarrhea. Cats can develop diarrhea for many reasons, from stress to intestinal cancer to eating a toxic plant. Don’t delay contacting your vet if your cat is having frequent diarrhea, especially if they are very young or very old. Cats can quickly become dehydrated from all the fluid losses, especially if the diarrhea is accompanied by other signs like vomiting or loss of appetite.
Black, Tarry Poop
If your cat’s poop is black, this typically indicates they are bleeding somewhere in their stomach or upper intestinal tract. The iron in the blood is altered as it passes through the lower intestinal tract, making it appear black instead of the normal red. A cat with a mouth wound that’s coughing up and swallowing blood may also develop black poop. Contact your vet as soon as possible if you notice this kind of feces.
Red Poop/Poop With Fresh Blood
If you notice a red tinge or fresh blood in your cat’s poop, you’re also dealing with a source of bleeding. Sometimes, the blood comes from the cat’s anus or rectum. Bleeding in the lower intestines can also cause your cat to poop red. Call the vet as soon as possible if you notice any blood. Bleeding is always a cause for concern, no matter where it happens.
If your cat’s poop looks green, it could be because they ate something of that color. However, it could also have more concerning causes, especially if the poop is loose or extra smelly. Intestinal parasites (worms) are a possible cause, as well as bacterial infections. Occasionally, a cat with gallbladder issues will have green poop. Any of these conditions will require help from your vet.
Mucus In Poop
If your cat’s poop looks like it’s coated in clear, white, or yellow slime, it might have mucus in it. Mucus in poop can indicate general irritation in your cat’s bowels or parasites. Call the vet, especially if it continues for more than a day or you notice other symptoms like vomiting.
Yellow poop in a cat is very concerning because it can indicate several emergency conditions. A cat with yellow poop could have liver issues, especially if you notice your cat’s skin, eyes, or gums look yellow as well. Zinc poisoning or an immune condition where the body begins destroying its own red blood cells could also be to blame. Rarely, your cat could also have just eaten something that turns their stool yellow. Call the vet as soon as possible if you see yellow feces.
If you notice orange poop in the litter box, it could indicate that your cat is having liver or gallbladder issues. Call your vet, especially if you notice other signs like vomiting, belly pain, loss of appetite, or lethargy.
But What If It’s Just Something They Ate?
Your cat’s diet could certainly be responsible for some of the color changes in their stool. Cats often get diarrhea when their food changes or they eat too many treats or human food. The safest thing to do when you notice any concerning poop is to call your vet.
Some diarrhea cases resolve on their own in a day or two, especially if the cat is otherwise normal. At the same time, many stool changes indicate something far more severe, and time may be of the essence in beginning treatment.
They say that we are what we eat, but for your cat, what happens after they eat may indicate a problem. Healthy stools result from a complex digestive process, and any disruption to that system could be a cause for concern. Scoop your cat’s litter box at least once, ideally twice daily, and take a good look at the poop before tossing it in the trash. You might learn more than you think!
Featured Image Credit: Mikhail Olykainen, Shutterstock