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Cat Poop Color: What Is Your Cat’s Poop Telling You?

Is your cat’s poop trying to tell you something? Before you toss it in the trash, taking a moment to note its appearance is one of the simplest ways to assess your cat’s overall health at home.

Examining your cat’s poop isn’t pleasant, but it’s something you should do regularly. Cleaning your cat’s litter box provides the perfect opportunity to monitor their digestive health and make note of any changes in their stool.

Changes in the appearance of your cat’s poop can indicate the onset of a health concern or give you hints about a developing condition that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. Acting quickly could save your cat from unnecessary discomfort and provide the best chance for a swift recovery.

Below, you’ll find an in-depth guide to what your cat’s poop is telling you to help you determine what’s normal, what isn't, and what to do next.

Healthy vs Unhealthy Cat Poop

Healthy cat poop should be brown in color, well-formed, and firm. While most shades of brown cat poop are normal, any abrupt changes in color or texture should be monitored and reported to your vet. 

Unhealthy cat poop may have a soft or runny consistency and be difficult to scoop; it may be very hard and pebble-like. Any color other than brown is cause for concern, especially if the color change can’t be attributed to diet.

Monitoring any changes in your cat’s diet and environment, and reporting them to your vet can provide some valuable insight into what may be causing an abnormal poop color or consistency and what treatment is recommended.      

What Do Cat Poop Colors Mean?

Here’s an in-depth guide to what cat poop colors might mean and what to do if you notice changes in your cat’s stool.

  • Brown Cat Poop: Brown cat poop is a great sign of a healthy digestive system. The shade of brown can vary based on the diet and most shades of brown cat poop are considered normal. However, if you notice an abrupt color change that can’t be attributed to a change in diet, it’s worth mentioning to your vet.

  • Yellow or Green Cat Poop: Cat poop that is yellow or green sometimes indicates that the cat is passing stool too quickly and may have a digestive problem. This could be the result of intestinal parasites, bacterial infection, or issues with the liver or gallbladder. Reach out to your vet to discuss proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Red Cat Poop: Red or red streaks in your cat’s poop are concerning because they may indicate bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract. This can be caused by a simple change in diet, constipation and straining to defecate, or irritation in the lower intestine due to colitis, infection, or parasites.

While the presence of a small amount of blood doesn’t always indicate a major medical concern, blood in the stool should be monitored closely. If you notice it occurring frequently if large amounts of blood are present, or if there are any other signs of illness, contact the vet for advice.

Red cat poop that is accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting should be considered a medical emergency and warrants immediate emergency care.

  • Black Cat Poop: Very dark or black cat poop is cause for concern because it could indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. When blood has been digested, it often has a tarry and black appearance which coats the stool each time the cat goes to the bathroom.

Your cat’s upper GI tract is made up of the mouth, stomach, and small intestine each of which can be affected by a range of issues, from toxicity to intestinal parasites. Black cat poop should always be reported to the vet because internal bleeding can be life-threatening if not addressed right away.

  • Orange Cat Poop: Orange cat poop can indicate a serious health issue, including liver and gallbladder problems caused by a bacterial infection. Abdominal tumors, bile duct obstructions, and abdominal trauma are also potential causes of cat poop that’s orange in color. If you notice that your cat’s poop is orange, reach out to your vet right away.

  • White Spots or Specks: Small white particles or specks in your cat’s poop may indicate the presence of intestinal parasites. Rice-shaped tapeworm segments are the most common type of worm owners discover, but long, skinny roundworms are also fairly common and visible to the naked eye. Intestinal parasites always require proper diagnosis by your vet to determine the correct deworming medication.

Unhealthy Cat Poop Consistency

Assessing the consistency of your cat’s stool can also give you some important insight into their overall digestive health.

  • Runny or Watery Cat Poop: Watery or runny cat poop that has no definable shape is called diarrhea. The most common causes are diet change, stress, intestinal parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Health issues like food sensitivities, allergies, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease can also cause diarrhea. While one incident of watery stool isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, the condition should be monitored closely. Recurring diarrhea or diarrhea accompanied by other signs of illness should always be reported to the vet.

  • Mushy or Soft Cat Poop: Soft or mushy cat poop often indicates an upset stomach. This is often related to a sudden diet change, but it can have other causes. If the condition is ongoing or your cat develops other symptoms, call your vet for advice.

  • Hard or Dry Cat Poop: Hard, dry cat poop that resembles pebbles typically indicates constipation, often caused by dehydration or a lack of fiber in the diet. If the condition is ongoing, consult with your vet for the best course of treatment.

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How Many Times Should a Healthy Cat Poop Each Day?

While every cat is a bit different, most healthy cats should poop once or twice each day. The size of their poop should be proportionate to how much they eat. If your cat isn’t pooping at least once per day, is only producing a tiny amount of stool, is straining to poop, or can’t poop at all, it’s time to call the vet.

What Does it Mean if There’s Hair in a Cat’s Stool?

Small amounts of hair in a cat’s stool from time to time are perfectly normal, but large amounts could indicate overgrooming which can have a variety of causes. Your cat could develop hairballs, or in rare cases, even bowel obstruction. Consult with your vet about potential preventative care.

What Does it Mean if a Cat’s Stool Contains Mucus or Has a Jelly-Like Appearance?

If there’s mucus in your cat’s poop or it has a jelly-like appearance, it’s time to call the vet. Mucus in the stool indicates inflammation in the intestines, possibly caused by parasites or illness. 

Stool with a jelly-like appearance indicates extreme inflammation. This condition is often accompanied by blood in the stool due to bleeding from the intestinal wall. A cat with this type of abnormal stool requires emergency treatment.

When Should You Be Concerned About Your Cat’s Poop?

When you’re cleaning out your cat’s litter box, any abrupt or drastic changes in the appearance of your cat’s poop should be reported to your vet. Your vet’s recommendations will ultimately depend on what is likely to be causing the issue.

In some cases, your vet may simply ask that you monitor your cat at home to see if the condition resolves on its own. Your vet may also request a stool sample to perform certain diagnostic tests.

But if your cat is demonstrating behavior changes or showing other signs of illness, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy, it should be treated as an emergency. Reach out to an emergency veterinarian right away if your regular vet isn’t available.

The Takeaway

Cleaning out your cat’s litter box is a necessary daily chore, but it’s something you should be intentional about. Your cat’s poop can tell you about their overall health and can even be the first hint that something isn’t right.

Remember that healthy cat poop should be brown in color, well-formed, and proportionate to your cat’s food intake. One-time abnormalities aren’t always a cause for concern, but they should be monitored closely. If the issue is ongoing or accompanied by signs of illness, a trip to the vet is in order.

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