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Vet 101 Q & A – The Scoop on Poop

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Every week our resident cat expert Dr. Richard Goldstein tackles readers questions with his renowned skill and humor.

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I’m puzzled why my two cats who are the same age, size, breed and eat the same food, have very different sized poop. What size is normal?


Ahhh. No cat discussion is complete until it involves poop.

There’s no real definitive answer to the question of different sized poop. Remember, even though two cats can outwardly appear the same, everyone is an individual. To quote from a previous entry, “food affects individuals individually.” One cat may be digesting certain food components differently than the other, which can affect the bulk, consistency and texture of the stool that is formed. Anatomy can also play a role. The width of the pelvic canal (where the rectum sits), the diameter of the large intestine and rectum, and the tone of the anal sphincter, can all affect stool size. There’s a lot of variation on “normal”.

What’s really important is to note any changes in stool shape and consistency. Obviously diarrhea or soft stool needs to be addressed. But hard stool, or straining, can indicate constipation. In extreme cases, cats can develop megacolon, where the intestine stretches out so much that it can’t push the stool out. Larger and drier “fecal balls” than usual can be an indication of constipation. Masses that push on or involve the rectum or large intestine can result in stool that looks flat or ribbon-shaped. Foreign bodies, especially strings, can also change the shape of the stool, as can fractures of the pelvis. Changes in the frequency of bowel movements can also indicate a problem.

Bottom line… as long as there is normal stool passing at regular intervals, size doesn’t matter. But if there’s a change in size, frequency, consistency or “effort”, speak with your veterinarian.


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