Thursday, January 28, 2016

Smelly Stools in Cats

Ah, cats. Not only does their pee smell foul, but their poo can, too. Folks, let's get real today. We're going to talk about smelly stools in cats, and I'm going to embarrass our newest cat, Rocky, by using him as an example.

I don't think Rocky likes being the example in this story.

Rocky, as many of you know, was a wild thing who we assumed was a feral cat. He terrorized the neighborhood cats for at least a year or two, including our own outdoor guys. He seemed to live in the woods and descend at night, slinking among the garden shrubs and running at the first sound of human footsteps. It took us a year to tame him enough to feed him on the porch and many months before we could get him to trust us enough to let us touch him. Finally, this past November, Rocky went to the vet where he was pronounced healthy, neutered, and given his vaccinations.

Today, he has chosen his forever home...ours. He moved in. The formerly wild cat is now a model house cat, calm and content.

His favorite spot:

That's Rocky on the couch by the fireplace with his buddy, another of our house cats, Pierre, up on the arm of the couch.

Now you'd think that all's well that ends well with Rocky. But not quite. You see, the poor old former tom cat has an issue. A digestive issue. As in, when he uses the litter box for number two, it lights up the house like a Christmas tree. I've never smelled anything quite like this. And it's big, folks. I'm talking dog-sized big.

He does this twice a day.

Even after I remove it from the litter box, I have to turn on the plug-in air freshener. It's that bad. The scent just barrels through the house. 

(Now none of you are ever going to want to visit me. That's okay. I understand.)

So what's up? Rocky went to the vet. He was dewormed. He's on the same diet as the other cats: a mixed diet of dried Friskies Grillers Blend and Friskies canned cat food, usually beef or chicken.

Since he has already been to the vet in the past month and been dewormed, my thought was that the parasites he may have had as an outdoor cat are already gone. The vet didn't find anything wrong with him. But there is one potential issue: parasites called giardia.

Giardia, according to the CDC, is a microscopic parasite that lives in water or soil and is transmitted by host animals. In humans, it causes intestinal distress such as gas and diarrhea. In cats, it can cause the same, but it can also simply cause foul-smelling stools.

Rocky may have picked up giardia from simply living outside. The vet's office doesn't test for it, but when he returns for his booster shots, I may ask them to test for it. 

In the meantime, if your cat has stinky stools...I mean really bad, not just the usual...Dr. Mike over at the Pet Health Network has a few suggestions about the causes:

  • Diet: Pierre, our gray cat above, was called "stink bomb" as a kitten for his super power-like ability to fart non stop. It turned out the cat food we were feeding him disagreed with his tummy. If your cat has these issues, and you've switched his food recently, you may want to consult with your pet's veterinarian about changing his diet. Too little or too much fiber in the diet can also cause this problem.
  • Parasites: I hate parasites. They skeeve me out big time. Cats can get a whole bunch of them, too, especially if they are outdoor cats. Your pet's veterinarian needs to check a stool sample for parasites. Don't rely on folk remedies to treat it. Get your pet to the vet, get it tested, and get the right MEDICAL treatment for parasites. There are good, effective pharmaceutical remedies that kill those bugs right off.  
  • Disease: If your cat suddenly experiences stinky stools, diarrhea, vomiting or blood in the stool, pack him in his carrier and take him to the vet IMMEDIATELY. It can be a sign of a serious illness.

Your pet's vet, folks, is the best person to say what's causing that awful smell. A few days of yuckiness may be a lovely treat your cat found and ate, such as a piece of bologna that fell behind the kitchen table, but if it goes on longer than a few days, or is accompanies by other signs of gastrointestinal stress or illness, get thee to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

On behalf of Rocky, I apologize to my squeamish readers. But in the spirit of scientific inquiry and education, Rock and I agreed that sharing his litter box habits might help other kitties, so he was all for it.

Now please excuse me. I have to go scoop the litter box. Again.

Rocky and three of our other cats.