The Scoop on Hard Cat Poop

The Scoop on Hard Cat Poop

You can learn a lot about your cat's health from her poop. Whether you’ve just adopted your first cat/kitten or you’ve shared your home with cats for years, watch for a few key signs when you scoop out the litter box.

Cat Poop: What’s Normal?

Most cats will poop at least once a day. If they’re healthy, their poop should:

  • Be deep brown in color
  • Feel not too hard or too soft or mushy
  • Not smell too foul, though some odor is normal

Constipation

When a cat is constipated, he’ll strain a lot when he tries to poop or won’t be able to produce anything for the litter box. You don’t need to worry if it only happens sometimes. But if it’s more common for your pet, you should tell your vet and discuss the issue.

Cats can get constipated for a number of reasons, including:

  • Over-grooming, which leads to extra hair (from all the licking) in the digestive tract
  • Kidney problems
  • Feline megacolon -- when the colon gets very large and its muscles no longer squeeze, making hard, dry stool build up inside the digestive tract
  • Something blocking their colon, such as string or bones
  • Diets that don’t have enough fiber
  • Problems inside the colon, such as tumors or narrow places
  • Spine problems or pain

You should talk to your vet about any poop problems your cat has, but this chart may help you figure out what may be causing them:

Symptom

Appearance

Frequency

Possible causes

Constipation
Small, hard, dry poop
Less than once a day
Dehydration, megacolon, dietary issues
Constipation
Small, hard, dry poop that has a lot of hair
Less than once a day
Hairballs, over-grooming
Constipation
Thin, ribbon-like poop
Less than once a day
Colon problems, like a tumor

 To ease constipation, your vet may suggest that you give him more fiber, such as by adding canned pumpkin to his regular food. Or she might tell you to change to food that’s easier for your pet to digest. Hairball medications (helps with digesting or breaking down the cat hair) might also help. It also helps to make sure he gets more exercise and drinks more water so that waste will move through his system more readily. Adding a high-count, multi-strain probiotic may also help, if your cat/kitten has an imbalanced microbiota the high-count probiotic will re-balance the bacteria and reduce the constipation.

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