Parlons Merde

So here is the scoop — most cat owners don’t know what normal cat poop is supposed to look like.

We ask you in clinic “And your cat’s stools, are they normal?”  Usually the response is something like: “Oh yeah! But sometimes he will poop outside the litter box, because he is mad at me.”

Let’s look at this scenario a little closer.  Pooping outside the litter box is not a cat’s idea of revenge.   In fact cats being the superior beings they are, don’t waste their time on revenge. This cat is probably pooping outside the box because he is in pain when having a bowel movement. And very likely the pain is due to constipation.

 There are many cats out there who suffer from chronic constipation.  That is, they either always or sometimes produce poop that is way too dry or a mix of very dry and runny.  These cats can sometimes have “accidents” outside the litter box.  They can also cry during and after a bowel movement.  Sometimes they run quickly away from the litter box.  Some cats will go a few days without having a poop.

If I am assuming, as a veterinarian, that you know what normal cat poop should look like, then I am making a big mistake.  I need to show you a picture of the different types of stool and let you know which one we are going for.  Some visual examples to help you classify the stool can be seen below.

Watch out for that hard round “rabbit” poop.  This means the cat is severely constipated.  Sometimes this can get so jammed up in the rectum that the cat gets completely blocked up.

This poop is too way hard!

This poop is too way hard!

The next example is a longer stool but had indentations in it. This means that the stool stayed in the colon too long. This type of stool often can have pointy ends that scrape the colon as it comes out—this hurts a lot.

Pointy ends are painful!

Pointy ends are painful!

The next picture is normal stool—it looks as if the rectum acted as a guillotine cutting each piece of poop into a nice even end. This is what we are going for.

This is ideal cat poop!

This is ideal cat poop!

So what causes your cat to get constipated?  Some cats are poor water drinkers — this can give them hard stool.  Some cats are dry food addicts — they get very little moisture from their food.  Some cats are suffering from an illness of the gut — Inflammatory Bowel Disease — which can lead to constipation.  Early stage kidney disease often has constipation as its first sign.

No matter what the cause, constipated cats need to be seen and examined.  Together, we can help them over this painful condition!

– Dr. Spooner

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