Why Is My Cat Leaking Poop? 5 Common Reasons

We do our best to keep our cats as healthy as possible and it can be quite alarming when they start exhibiting any unusual symptoms. If you have noticed your cat has begun leaking poop, which is also referred to as fecal incontinence, it can be very concerning and a bit messy.

It is highly recommended that you make an appointment with your veterinarian for the proper diagnosis and treatment if you notice your cat is struggling from any form of incontinence or has begun exhibiting any unusual symptoms. There are a few common reasons this may be happening though, and we’ll go over them in detail below.

Why is my cat leaking poop

The 5 Reasons Your Cat Might Be Leaking Poop

1. Diarrhea

Symptoms:  Loose, watery stool

Lack of appetite

Weakness or malaise

Defecating outside the litter box

Diagnosis: Physical examination

Stool sample

Treatment: Depends on the root cause

Diarrhea is a loose, unformed, and watery stool. It can have a wide variety of causes ranging from stress to gastrointestinal disease and more. It’s most often the symptom of a more generalized root problem and it could easily result in the leaking of feces.

It won’t be much of a secret that your cat is suffering from diarrhea unless they live outdoors. You will be able to notice the stool texture quite easily when cleaning the litter box. In severe cases, cats may have trouble making it to the litter box, so accidents are fairly common, too.

Why is my cat leaking poop
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Some of the most common causes of diarrhea include food intolerance, changes in diet, parasites, allergies, bacteria, viruses, or exposure to toxins. The severity of diarrhea depends on how persistent the problem is and any other accompanying symptoms.

  • Symptoms and Treatment

Ongoing diarrhea warrants a visit to the veterinarian, as it can lead to severe dehydration. You must make sure your cat has enough access to hydration through fresh water and fresh or canned food (if part of their regular diet.) They should also be taken to the vet promptly if their diarrhea is accompanied by other symptoms including weakness, fever, lack of appetite, vomiting, or any signs of pain.

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination and may even take a stool sample or other diagnostic tests depending on the situation. Treatment is highly dependent on the root cause of the problem, though if appropriate, an anti-diarrheal may be administered.

Why is my cat leaking poop

2. Bowel Incontinence

Symptoms:  Leaking stool

Inability to control defecation

Redness or inflammation near the rectum

Diagnosis: Rectal examination

Diagnostic imaging

Treatment: Dependent upon the underlying cause

Bowel incontinence refers to the inability to control bowel movements. There are two separate categories of bowel incontinence: reservoir incontinence and sphincter incontinence. Reservoir incontinence is associated with any disease of the rectum that prevents stool from being stored or held normally.

Why is my cat leaking poop
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Reservoir Incontinence

If a cat is suffering from reservoir incontinence, they are incapable of storing a normal volume of feces in the rectum, which results in the inability to control bowel movements. Conditions that affect parts of the large intestine such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer may cause this.

Sphincter Incontinence

If your cat is suffering from bowel incontinence and is leaking poop, they may very likely be suffering from sphincter incontinence. The primary cause of this condition is typically a wound, mass, or nerve damage that disrupts the sphincter’s functionality.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of bowel incontinence requires a medical examination with a specific focus on the rectal area. If the veterinarian is concerned that the cause could be neurologically related, diagnostic imaging may be necessary to get to the root cause. Treatment for either of these categories will depend on the underlying cause of the condition.

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Why is my cat leaking poop

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Why is my cat leaking poop

3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Symptoms:  Vomiting


Weight loss

Lack of appetite


Bloody stool

Diagnosis: Ultrasound


Tissue biopsy

Treatment: Dietary changes


Immunosuppressive medications

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD for short, refers to chronic irritation of the gastrointestinal system. It is considered a syndrome, rather than a specific disease, and it can affect any part of the GI tract but most commonly affects the stomach and/or intestines. It can result in the malabsorption of nutrients, digestion difficulties, and chronic diarrhea.

Why is my cat leaking poop
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Inflammatory bowel disease can have a variety of causes including food allergies or intolerance, bacterial infection, or parasites. The root cause is often unknown and may be difficult to determine if treatment for the more common causes is ineffective.

Read more  Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? Is Cat Food Bad for Dogs?

  • Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is typically done through diagnostic imaging, more specifically an ultrasound which will reveal the thickness of the lining of the stomach and intestines. An endoscopy may also be performed so that a tissue biopsy can be collected and tested.

Treatment is dependent upon the cause of the condition. If a cat has been suffering from parasites, deworming medication will be administered. If it’s dietary related, your veterinarian will assist you in making the necessary changes. Supplementation and immunosuppressive medication are also common treatments.

So, if you notice that your cat is leaking poop or has chronic bouts of diarrhea, it’s best to have them checked out by the veterinarian to rule out IBD as a potential cause.

Why is my cat leaking poop

4. Anal Sac Disease

Symptoms:  Licking or biting the anal region

Scooting their butt across the floor

Strong odor

Leaking brown fluid

Hair loss near the base of the tail

Reluctance to defecate

Diagnosis: Rectal examination
Treatment: Anal gland expression

Anti-inflammatory medication

Antibiotics (if an infection is present)

Surgery (severe, chronic cases)

One of the reasons that a cat could be leaking from their behind is anal sac disease. This condition is more common in dogs, but cats are also susceptible.

The anal sacs are two small pouches located on each side of the lower area of the anus. The walls of the anal sacs are lined with sweat glands that produce a very foul-smelling fluid, which is stored in the sacs and released through a small duct.

Why is my cat leaking poop
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The fluid is very similar to that of skunks. But for cats, it’s used to mark territory and small amounts are secreted during defecation. If these anal sacs become inflamed or infected, the ducts become swollen, and the fluid cannot be released properly, leading to impaction.

  • Symptoms and Treatment

Anal sac disease can vary in severity and the first symptom is typically butt-scooting across the floor or excessive grooming of the anal area. Leakage of this fluid can occur, and it is commonly mistaken for feces.

A veterinarian will do a thorough examination, which includes a rectal exam to properly diagnose the condition. The impaction can be caused by a variety of reasons including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, food allergies, and more.

Treatment includes expressing the anal glands and flushing out the contents, which is a smelly ordeal. Some cats may require sedation for this process. Most cats are sent home with anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve pain and swelling. Antibiotics may also be necessary, especially if there is an infection present.

Anal sac disease is not typically a recurring condition in cats like it is in dogs and you should work with your veterinarian to help determine and treat the root cause. If this is something you suspect, make sure to visit the veterinarian promptly, as older cats have been known to develop cancer of the anal sacs.

Why is my cat leaking poop

5. Gastrointestinal Parasites

Symptoms:  Dull coat


Lack of appetite

Pot-bellied appearance

Pale mucous membranes

Segments of worms in stool

Stool containing blood or mucous

Diagnosis: Microscopic examination of fecal sample
Treatment: Anti-parasitic medication

Gastrointestinal parasites come in many forms, and many cats are affected by roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Internal parasites can lead to serious problems in young kittens and cats with weakened immune systems.

Parasites can lead to conditions like anemia, intestinal obstruction, poor nutrient absorption, and stunted growth and development in youngsters. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of parasite that is present but even the healthiest of cats will exhibit telltale symptoms if the infection is severe.

  • Symptoms and Treatment

Diarrhea is a very common symptom of many conditions, and a parasitic infection is certainly no exception. If you have noticed your cat leaking poop from its backside, it’s time to make an appointment with the veterinarian to rule out these pesky parasites.

Why is my cat leaking poop
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The vet will give your cat an overall health examination and will collect a stool sample to look at under the microscope. Once identified, your cat will be given the appropriate medication to eliminate the parasites. Any other symptoms related to the infection will also be treated if severe enough.

Why is my cat leaking poop

The 5 Tips for Cleaning Up After Your Cat

If you have a cat that is leaking poop, you are bound to have a mess on your hands. After you have washed your kitty off and made them comfortable, you will inevitably have to clean up the mess in your home. Here are some tips for cleaning up the icky poop mess left behind.

1. Glove Up

Cat feces can contain parasites, including toxoplasmosis, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women. You surely don’t want any poop coming into contact with your skin anyway, so it’s best to have some gloves handy for the cleanup. It’s recommended that any cat owner keeps a box of gloves aside for this reason.

Why is my cat leaking poop
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock
Why is my cat leaking poop

2. Use Paper Towels to Pick Up the Poop

Clean up any poop that you can with paper towels and dispose of them properly. It’s best to take the mess right out to the outdoor dumpster, not only to prevent the stench in the house, but to prevent dogs or young children from getting into the mess.

Why is my cat leaking poop

3. Rinse the Area with Cool Water Then Dry

It’s no secret that if the mess is on a hard floor, cleanup will be much easier. If the poop was on the carpet though, it’s not always as easy. Once you’ve gotten the poop cleaned up, the carpeted area will certainly need some TLC.  First, rinse the area with cool water, then blot dry with a towel.

Why is my cat leaking poop

4. Use an Enzyme Cleaner

Regardless of whether you are cleaning a carpet or a hard floor, you will want to finish your cleanup using an enzymatic cleaner that works for stain and odor removal. Enzyme cleaners are among the safest and most effective methods for cleaning pet messes of any kind. The enzymes will break down the bacteria in the mess to eliminate the smells and stains, rather than masking them.

Read more  Why Does My Cat Vomit Bile?

Why is my cat leaking poop
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Why is my cat leaking poop

5. Consider Investing in a Carpet Cleaner

One of the household appliances that comes highly recommended to pet owners is a carpet cleaner. This is especially true for those that have a lot of carpeted areas in the home. Pet messes are bound to happen and whether you have a handheld spot cleaner or a full-sized carpet cleaner, they are typically worth the investment. They use a combination of cleaning solution, scrub brushes, and suction to shampoo the carpets clean and can either be purchased or rented at your local home improvement store.

Why is my cat leaking poop


If you noticed your cat has begun leaking poop, it’s time for a visit to the veterinarian. There are several potential reasons this could be happening, and you want to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional so that your cat can receive appropriate treatment.

It’s a good idea to keep a stash of cleaning supplies for those unfortunate accidents that are bound to happen at some point or another. Also, make sure to thoroughly clean your cat and any areas of the home that were soiled.

Why is my cat leaking poop

Featured Image Credit: @spochi.munchkin

— Update: 17-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Cat Leaking Poop Everywhere (What Is Happening?!) from the website petsbeam.com for the keyword why is my cat leaking poop.

Why is my cat leaking poop

I still remember to this day, during the month of June 2010, was when my cat’s bowels waged war against me and my home. My dear cat left a trail of poo almost everywhere he went.

He left stinky poo on my bedsheets, carpets, laundry bag, basically everywhere that he went. He basically had poo running down his anus and onto his hind legs. My poor cat was in distress and so was I.

What is happening when your cat is leaking poop everywhere?

A cat that is leaking poop everywhere is suffering from an underlying bowel disease that is causing bowel incontinence or severe diarrhea. This is when the cat can no longer control his bowel movements which causes its poo to dribble out.

If you have to wake up and find your cat’s ‘skid marks’ everywhere, I hope you are spared from this traumatic experience. Nonetheless, it is still useful for cat owners to know what can cause their cat to have bowel incontinence and what can be done about it.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Why is my cat leaking poop

Cats owners will be glad to know that inflammatory bowel disease (IDB) is considered more a syndrome than a disease. This happens when there is an adverse reaction to your cat’s digestive system that is causing chronic inflammation.

There are two types of IDB, one that affects the stomach and another that affects the intestinal tract.

If you can is having IDB of the stomach, the tell-tale sign will be frequent vomiting. When the intestines are inflamed, this will result in your cat having chronic diarrhea. This will be our area of focus due to uncontrollable bowel movements.

Here are some possible causes of IDB in cats.

Gastrointestinal Parasites

Why is my cat leaking poop

Having worms in your cat’s intestinal tract is a very common problem. In fact, up to 45% of cats do have this problem at some point in their lives.

There are a few common parasites that can infect your cat:

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Tapeworm

The most common mode of transmission are:

  • Ingesting infected fecal matter
  • Ingesting infected prey
  • Passed down from mother cat at birth
  • Ingesting infected fleas

These parasites are a bane to your cat’s health and need to be eradicated. They feed on the same nutrients that your cat consumes and deprives the cat of its proper nutrition.

If your cat appears to be losing weight even though it is eating normally, it could be due to a parasitic infestation.

The worms can multiply at an alarming rate and can end up causing an intestinal blockage in your cat which can be life-threatening.

How Do I Get Rid Of These Darn Parasites In My Cat?

Thankfully, this problem in cats is easily treatable.

The fastest and most accurate way of checking for such parasites in your cat are stool and blood tests. The veterinarian will be able to check under the microscope for the eggs and worm parts.

Once confirmed, your cat will be given some deworming tablets to take until the infestation clears. It is also important to isolate the infected cat from other cats to prevent the worms from spreading.

If you have recently adopted it is best to get it checked for worms just to be sure. Cats that are allowed outside need to be regularly checked as well.

One thing to note is that dewormers contain very powerful active ingredients, so please do not accidentally give your cat too much dewormer to prevent any health complications.

Food Allergies

Why is my cat leaking poop

Similar to humans, our cats can be allergic to certain types of food. In order for your cat to develop an allergy to a food, it needs to be exposed to it in the first place.

it is also possible for your cat to develop an allergy out of the blue to something that it has been eating for years.

Common allergic reactions in cats are:

  • Excessive grooming
  • Itchy and inflamed skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diahrrea
  • Constipation
  • Dragging its bottom on the floor

It was a food allergy that gave my cat explosive and uncontrollable diarrhea. There was something in his wet food that just didn’t agree with his stomach.

Took me almost a month and countless vet visits before I finally managed to weed out the root cause. It was rather unexpected as he has been eating the same brand for almost a year without any problems.

Read more  How Much To Feed Your Cat

If you find that your cat starts to leak poop and scratch itself silly every time it eats something, there’s a high chance your cat is allergic to that.

The leaky bum will stop once your remove that particular food item from your cat’s diet.

Bowel Incontinence In Cats

Why is my cat leaking poop

Bowel of fecal incontinence is basically a lack of control when the cat wants to poo. The majority of cats can hold it till they reach the litter box which isn’t that far away for indoor cats.

But with bowel incontinence, if your cat has to do a number 2, it is coming out whether you like it or not.

Cats with bowel incontinence don’t always have diarrhea. It is also possible to drop little ‘poo’ nuggets all over the house without even realizing it. You might even find your cat meowing while it poops.

There are two broad categories when it comes to bowel incontinence in cats.

Sphincter Incontinence

This happens when the anal sphincter of the cat isn’t able to close properly which allows for fecal matter to drip out. It can also cause urinary incontinence which prevents your cat from holding in its pee too.

If you have no idea where your anal sphincter muscles are, get someone to smack you hard on the butt. The first muscle that you feel clenching up will be your anal sphincter.

It is rather common for old senior cats to have this problem as their anal sphincter muscles weaken as they get older thus giving them less control over their bowel movement.

A wound or an abnormal growth can prevent the anal muscle from closing properly. Studies have shown that damage to the cat’s spinal cord often results in fecal incontinence as well.

Reservoir Incontinece

The fecal matter of a cat is held at the end of its intestinal tract called the rectum. When the cat is having reservoir incontinence, the rectum isn’t able to hold the stool in normally which gives the cat an urge to defecate.

This is often caused by diarrhea, IDB and cancer.

Can Cats Bowel Incontinence Be Cured?

Why is my cat leaking poop

It largely depends on the cause of bowel incontinence in your cat. If it is caused by a mass or growth that can be removed, then the chances of your cat pooing normally will be good.

However, if it is due to nerve damage or just having weak anal sphincter muscles, it is something that might have to be managed with medication.

Rectal Prolapse

A rectal prolapse happens when one or more layers of the cat’s rectum are exposed and can be seen jutting out of the cat’s anus.

This can happen when the cat strains too hard when trying to pee or poo. Other causes like parasitic infection, giving birth or an obstruction in the cat’s anus can cause a rectal prolapse.

I’ve seen this condition in a young cat before when I was helping out at an animal shelter. I was cleaning out the litter boxes for the cats in the FeLV enclosure and there was this orange kitty that kept following me around and trying to grab my ankles.

I could see about an inch of his rectum sticking out and it was just red and swollen. The poor guy probably wanted some affection but wasn’t socialized well enough to do it gently.

I gave it some pets before I left the place with a heavy heart.

How do we save them all?

Is It Normal For Kittens To Leak Poop?

Why is my cat leaking poop

It is more common for kittens to be leaking poop as compared to adult cats. If the kitten is still on a milk formula diet, its stomach might not be able to effectively digest all the milk which can lead to diarrhea.

Teething In Kittens

Some cat owners that I’ve spoken to have noticed their kittens leaking poop when it was teething.

When your kitten is between three and six months of age, it will start to lose its ‘baby teeth’ and replace them with ‘adult teeth’. You can see the kitten rubbing its gum on things and there can even be some bleeding.

It can be a painful and uncomfortable period for the kitten which can put stress on the body and cause diarrhea.

Based on my personal experience, diarrhea isn’t a common symptom when teething and should be checked by the vet if it persists for a few days.

Campylobacteriosis Infection

Campylobacteriosis isn’t a common bacterial infection in cats but when it does happen, kittens under six months are in the vulnerable group.

Campylobacteriosis is a gastrointestinal disease that causes stomach pain and watery poop in cats.

It isn’t life-threatening to cats and can be easily treated with antibiotics. This infection is common in crowded living spaces like animal shelters and cat colonies.

Cat Leaking Smelly Fluid

If your cat is leaking smelly fluid, it might not always be due to its poo. Cats do have a pair of anal glands at the entrance of their anus that it uses to communicate with other cats. These anal glands contain a dark brown oily fluid that smells musky.

It is possible that the anal glands have been infected and are leaking smelly fluid that is beyond the cat’s control.


Seeing your cat leak poo all over itself and the house can be a terrifying experience for most cat owners.

When it happens, you definitely do not want to sit on it. Make sure to get your cat to the vet immediately for a checkup.

To me, a leaky bum goes beyond just having normal diarrhea and requires immediate medical attention.


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About the Author: Tung Chi