Melena in cats can be a life threatening illness and it is something that should not be ignored. If it exists over a period of time or if it becomes worse, it could cost your cat its life. The first inclination of many cat owners is that it is simply something that your cat may have eaten and tend to ignore it; but ignoring it could place your cat in severe jeopardy.
Melena is a situation where digested blood is found in your cat's feces and as a result the stools will appear black and tarry. It is often confused for Hematochezia, which is red or fresh blood in the stool, but it is a completely different set of conditions. This condition is caused by a lower gastrointestinal disease and although it can becomes serious, is usually just a minor occurrence in your pet.
Melena is a much more serious threat to your cat and affects the stomach.
Melena may be caused by swallowing blood from a tooth infection or from licking a wound, but that is extremely rare in cats. It could also be caused by a clotting disorder but that is also rare. In most all cases this condition is caused from bleeding that has occurred in the stomach or small intestines of your cat.
Melena is a slow bleeding in your pet's stomach and it is this slow bleeding that allows the oxidation of the blood to turn black. It takes approximately 14 hours for blood to be broken down. Once it has been broken down it is now producing the very black, shiny, and sticky feces that you will see. The best way to identify this condition is by the smell. It will be extremely foul in odor and you will know it when you smell it.
Something is terribly wrong with your cat and this is the first warning sign that they may have a very serious upper gastrointestinal disease. If you do find this set of conditions in your cat they will require immediate hospitalization to begin the process of determining what exactly is wrong.
Melena in cats has several potential causes with some much more serious than others, but your first concern should be cancer. However, there are other causes that will need to be ruled out; but if they are the cause they can also be very serious threats to your cat's health.
The first set of causes your veterinarian will look for will be intestinal parasites; they include viral, bacterial, and fungi infections. All three of these types of infections are capable of causing serious diseases and disorders in your cat and are generally the first things checked for.
The next potential cause will be some type of an intestinal irritation. The most common form of irritate to your cat will be aspirin. Gastrointestinal ulcerations may also be causing this condition.
These ulcerations are inflammatory lesions that may be very deep in your cat's stomach or they could be superficial, in which case they are referred to as erosions of the stomach. However, both of these are very uncommon in cats. However, the most probable cause of Melena in cats will be from a gastric ulcer.
Your cat's stomach plays the initial role in the digestion process, primarily through the secretion of gastric acid and pepsin which assist the digestive enzymes. If this acid secretion is increased to the point of overwhelming your pets system, ulcers develop and can very easily cause this bleeding.
Tumors, metabolic diseases such as kidney and liver failure can also cause bleeding in the stomach. But the biggest concern will be with cancer if not ulcers. Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells that can spread anywhere in your pets body and still accounts for over 50 percent of deaths in pets. Melena may be your first warning sign and it should be taken very seriously.
The first symptoms that you can watch for will be in the stools. The stool will be almost pure black, very thick, and look like it is greasy; but the odor is what sets it apart. It will be extremely foul. This will than be followed by diarrhea and vomiting by your cat as it has become very irritating to their stomach.
Shortly after you cat may simply stop eating as they have absolutely no appetite. To make up for this they may begin to drink a tremendous amount of water but will also start to urinate much more and will lose weight very rapidly. Their gums will also start to become very pale in color. Pale gums are a distress sign in your cat.
Treatment will be determined by the underlying cause of the blood in the stomach. The first form of treatment, if not severe, will be a very bland diet for your cat as it will be very easy to digest. If severe, your cat may have to undergo surgery to remove the intrusion.
However, there are also some things that you can do to help your pet with this condition if it has not become severe and perhaps help in preventing it from occurring. Most all cases are caused by ulcerations in the stomach. Most ulcers are a sign of a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Vitamins A, B6, and E will help to maintain and repair your cat's mucosal barrier in their stomach. A few drops of fish oil can in your cat's food will also helps with ulcers as it is an extremely rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to prevent the acidity in your cat the causes the ulcers.
A couple of drops of Licorice extract will also sooth your cats stomach muscles as well as being one of the time tested remedies for stomach ulcers.
Melena in cats can be a very dangerous set of circumstances. Watching for the symptoms and detecting them early could save your cats life if it becomes severe. Ulcers in cats are the most probable cause of this condition, and eliminating ulcers with various supplements could prevent it from ever occurring in your cat.