Why is there red blood in a cat's stool?

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Why is there red blood in a cat's stool?
Bloody stool is a warning of a health problem in a cat. (cat image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com)

If a cat has a health issue affecting its rectum or its anus, the first signs of trouble are usually found in its litter box. If a cat owner sees red blood in a cat's stool, he should contact his veterinarian so the cause can be diagnosed and treated.

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Bloody Cat Stool

When there is red blood in cat's stool, the blood is usually located on the outside of the stool rather than mixed inside it. The stool is usually well-formed and normal in appearance except for the presence of bright red blood. A cat with bloody stool often experiences irritated skin around its anus, which can lead to inflamed skin and bleeding at the area.

Causes

Red blood in a cat's stool can be caused by a problem in a cat's anal, rectal or descending colon region. Abrasive material in a cat's stool, such as clumps of hair, can damage internal tissue, causing bleeding, according to the "Handbook of Small Animal Gastroenterology." If the cat's anus and rectum are inflamed because of proctitis, the tissue there can bleed, leaving stool bloody. A cat that tries to soothe the irritated tissue can make the bleeding worse.

Diagnosis

A veterinarian can diagnose the cause of red blood in a cat's stool. If there is hair or left over bone material from small animals the cat has eaten in the bloody stool, the cause is abrasive material scratching the cat's colon and rectum as it passes through the cat's body. If the cat is recovering from long bouts of diarrhoea or tends to become constipated, proctitis is likely the cause of the red blood in its stool, according to the "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook."

Treatment

To treat the damage caused by abrasive material in a cat's stool, a veterinarian can give a cat an enema. This will wash away any remaining material. Brushing a cat often and preventing it from eating its prey will reduce the amount of abrasive items that can enter its digestive tract. Proctitis can be soothed by removing any hair around a cat's anus so there is nothing there to irritate its skin. Antibiotic ointment or aloe gel can help relieve the cat's pain.

Considerations

To help prevent red blood in a cat's stool, the cat's owner should make sure the cat has access to plenty of water to avoid dehydration and dry, hard stools. Feeding a cat a few small meals during the day instead of one large meal can help ease the pressure on its digestive system. If a cat has begun compulsively licking at its anus, foul tasting but harmless ointments are available that will deter the cat and prevent further damage.

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