Black, tarry stools containing digested blood are called melena. This is not fresh blood. Melena can indicate a life threatening illness. This is especially true if it persists or if it gets worse.
Melena begins when the bleeding is in the small intestine or the stomach. It is high in the digestive tract which allows it to be digested and become black. This is different from Hematochezia, which occurs in the lower part of the large intestine.
The main cause of melena is disease such as Cat Cancer. It is important to determine the cause in order to treat it successfully.
• Intestinal parasites, viral, fungal or bacterial infections need to be ruled out
• Irritation and ulceration from certain drugs such as NSAIDS and corticosteroids
• Foreign bodies in the intestine
• There are a variety of intestinal disorders that can cause melena such as twisting of the stomach
• Cat Heatstroke, other infections, some cancers, excess stomach acid
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• If your cat licks a bleeding wound or has bleeding in the mouth, that blood can turn dark and be considered melena
• Blood clotting disorders
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• If your cat has abdominal surgery in the area of the upper gastrointestinal tract, there can be melena that is brief.
• Lack of blood supply that is secondary to shock, intussusceptions or blockage of circulation to the intestine can cause death of the tissue and consequently melena.
Signs and Symptoms
Your cat may exhibit Cat Vomiting, Cat Diarrhea with dark stools, pale gums due to blood loss, Cat Loss of Weight, Cat Loss of Appetite and Cat Increased Urination and/or Cat Increased Thirst and drinking.
Your veterinarian will perform several diagnostic tests to establish a cause.
• The standard lab studies will be done. These will include complete blood count, chemical profile and urinalysis.
• Serology will determine infectious diseases.
• Coagulation profile will determine if it is a clotting disorder
• Examination of a stool sample will determine if it is blood
• X-rays of the chest and abdomen
• Ultrasound examination of the abdomen
• Upper GI barium series
• Endoscopic examination
If your cat has eaten something they shouldn’t have, treatment may consist of removing the foreign object and keeping an eye on your cat for improvement. If the signs are minimal, your cat may be able to go home with you. There will be dietary restrictions that you should follow. These will include a bland diet that contains food that is easily digested.
Any medications that can irritate the stomach need to be avoided. This includes aspirin, corticosteroids and any NSAID’s.
It is possible that your vet will prescribe medication to decrease the amount of stomach acid that is produced and coat the stomach as well.
If hospitalization is necessary, your cat will receive intravenous fluids, blood and support. Once the bleeding has stopped your cat will be able to go home.
Adhere to the dietary restrictions that your vet has placed on your cat. Be sure to administer all of the medication that has been prescribed. Keep any potential irritants away from your cat.
Additional Cat Cancer Pages
Cat Cancer | Cat Skin Cancer | Cat Lung Cancer | Cat Pancreatic Cancer | Cat Cancer Prevention | Cat Cancer Diagnosis | Cat Gastric Cancer | Cat Lymphoma Cancer | Cat Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Cat Mouth Cancer | Cat Brain Tumor | Cat Palliative Cancer Care