What is your cat’s poop telling you about your pet’s health?
Any pet that shares your home with you 24/7 also shares every intimate detail of her daily routine. In the case of cats, that unfortunately means poop!
There’s no getting away from what comes out of your cat’s back end. After all, the litter box is right there in your home for everyone to see and smell…
If you’ve noticed that your cat’s poo is anything other than normal, you’re right to be worried. Their little bodies can quickly become affected by illness, infection or stress.
We asked the cat-lovers here at FullBucket to talk us through what your cat’s poop is trying to tell you.
Dr. Keith Latson and Dr. Rob Franklin, co-founders of FullBucket, both own cats. (Or do their cats own them?) Keith has a rescue barn cat named Avalanche who once famously saw off a coyote.
And Rob has a rescue cat named Sacha. Add in their credentials as veterinary researchers and practitioners, and they've seen more than their share of kitty poop!
What Does Healthy Cat Poop Look Like?
If your cat produces small amounts of well-formed, tapered soft poop, it’s a great sign that she is in good health.
Cat poop is stinky, but it shouldn’t be so offensive that you’re embarrassed to invite guests into the house.
Your cat should be able to do her business easily and quickly, without straining or visible discomfort.
Try To Control A Cat? Are You Kidding?
Cats are unique amongst household pets, and that’s why we love them! They are often moody and opinionated and notoriously difficult to control and manage.
They don’t always eat what we give them and won’t finish their food if they don’t feel like it. And we surely can’t make them eat it!
If they have outside access, who knows what they are eating in the great outdoors. Maybe the term “dietary indiscretion” was designed for cats!
But there's more to feline digestion than eating from the kitchen trash or swallowing down a victorious kill. Plenty of things can upset a cat's gut. Common culprits include unusual treats, overfeeding or introducing new food or supplements.
What Can Be Causing My Cat’s Digestion Problems?
IBD - inflammatory bowel disease - is the most common cause of diarrhea in cats. You will know if your cat has a problem because the sight and smell will be right there in your home.
Fixing the problem quickly and preventing the issue from happening again is in everybody’s best interest. You need to find the right mix of management - food, environment, veterinary advice and probiotics - to support your cat’s gut health for life.
Focusing on what she’s eating is the obvious plan. Are you overfeeding? Have you recently changed her food, snacks or treats? How slowly did you introduce the change?
Is there any chance she is eating anything outside of the house - or inside your home (dinner leftovers, food dropped by your kids, snacks left under your teenager’s bed)?
More worrying is the possibility of disease that can cause diarrhea in cats. Chronic, insidious inflammation of the intestines can quickly reach a tipping point. Gut disease in cats is difficult to manage.
We would not suggest you try home cures based around human food, herbs or supplements.
Veterinary advice is best. Your vet may recommend a course of antibiotics, or a quality probiotic health treatment for your cat.
FullBucket’s probiotics do not aim to “replace” the cat’s natural gut flora. They support your cat’s unique gut environment so she can heal herself from the inside out.
Understanding Your Cat’s Digestive System
Your cute, fuzzy cat is really a miniature wild animal, and her digestive system reflects this fact.
Her teeth are sharp, not flat, and she will swallow food in chunks.
The digestive process starts in the stomach, where it’s broken down by stomach acid.
Did you know a cat’s stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve raw bones?
From here, the now-liquid food passes into the small intestine, which is the longest part of your cat’s digestive tract. All the nutrients from your cat’s food are absorbed here.
In the first section of the small intestine, the pancreas releases enzymes which help digest sugars, fats and proteins.
The gallbladder releases bile produced by the liver, which breaks up larger fat molecules.
The large intestine (the colon) absorbs the final bits of water and electrolytes from the food before good bacteria in your cat’s gut break down hard-to-digest material with their enzymes.
The final stage… well, you know all about that! It’s the bit you see (and smell).
Home Remedies For Diarrhea In Cats
Although we don't suggest you try to treat your cat's diarrhea with human food or herbal remedies, there are things you can do to help the situation.
Cats might seem aloof, but they’re more sensitive than we give them credit for! Environmental stress can be enough to trigger a bout of diarrhea in a cat.
Stresses include moving to a new home, new humans on the scene, a dominant cat next door or introducing a new pet to the household (“Wait, you got a d-g?!”). Try to normalize your cat’s environment as much as possible (or as much as they’ll let you).
Natural Treatments That Work With Your Cat’s Body
What about supplements to treat diarrhea in cats? Even the best supplement is no match for a poor feeding program. Don’t use supplements as a band-aid solution.
We like to compare treating health issues in our pets to treating illnesses in our favorite humans. If someone near and dear to you was in unexplained pain, would you go to the drug store and choose a generic stomach-soothing treatment off the shelf?
Or would you persuade them to visit the doctor to get a prescription for something which will accurately treat stomach problems at the root?
Take the same approach to helping your voiceless kitty. Fix the problem at its root, and then add in feline-specific supplements if your vet feels they will help your cat.
Never feed supplements, medicines or herbs meant for human consumption. It’s scary how easy it is to overdose a little cat and is even more dangerous when the supplement wasn’t meant for them in the first place.
Think about giving your cat a gentle probiotic, prebiotic and enzyme product to support her natural gut health. A combination of probiotics, prebiotics and enzymes helps your cat’s gut recover from stress or illness and stay balanced in the future.
Our Daily Cat Powder is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach because every cat has a unique gut environment. We choose the correct strain of probiotic and dose it exactly right for cats. This probiotic doesn’t try to replace anything or work against the cat’s system. Instead, it normalizes your cat’s own digestive bacteria.
This will keep her healthy during good times and ease her back to health the natural way when there’s a problem. (And did you know that, for every tub you buy, we give a tub to animals in need via our domestic and international giving programs?)
A Natural Diet For Your Cat’s Health
There is one thing we can all do to give our cats the best chance at good health - feed as natural a diet as possible.
We don’t need to tell you that most mainstream, grocery store cat food is…. well, we won’t say garbage, but it’s not great for your cat’s health.
Just like humans, cats thrive on a healthy diet.
You wouldn’t live on cheap, processed junk your whole life and expect to thrive. So why expect your cat’s little body to do any better?
Some cat owners think a raw or paleo style diet for your cat is a great idea. But that obviously doesn’t work for everyone.
So do your best to make her diet as natural as possible.
Remember that if she made a wild kill, she’d be eating all the internal organs, brain and other icky bits. They contain important vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics (yes, cats get these from the digestive tracts of their killed prey) and fatty acids.
Feed as natural as your budget and circumstances allow.
The Final Word On Cat Digestive Health
The type of diarrhea issues we’ve talked about here are low-level. It’s the kind of poop problem which is enough to stink your house out (and make you want to take out shares in air freshener). But they’re not life-threatening.
If your cat is also showing signs of limpness, lethargy, refusal to eat or drink or sudden weight loss, you need to get the cat to your veterinarian, ASAP!
As always, prevention is better than needing a cure. Do everything you can to manage your cat’s environmental stress.
Keep an eye on her daily poops, and nurture her gut health with a probiotic that actually survives the digestive process.
We hope your cat will live a long and healthy life (or nine)!