Q: My ferret’s poop wasn’t listed in the poop chart, but he has been recently pooping what looks like real small oatmeal, or one of those liquidy cereal bars. I haven’t fed him either of those things. It actually started happening last night. What does that exactly mean?
A: Without seeing a picture of your ferret’s feces, it is difficult to tell you exactly what is happening. But my best guess is that what you are describing is close to what Dr. Williams calls birdseedlike ferret poop.
As he mentions, it is a sign of maldigestion/malabsorption. The nutrients in the food are passing too quickly through the intestinal tract, and what you see in the poop is partially digested food material. And as Dr. Williams states, epizootic catarrhal enteritis (ECE) is the most common cause of poop that shows non- or partially digested food. This happens with ECE because this disease causes a dysfunction of the ferret’s intestinal cells that help absorb nutrients as they are processed and proceed down the intestinal tract.
Your ferret can quickly lose weight if this situation is not addressed soon. Along with weight loss from a lack of calories, your ferret will also need supplements with vitamins and minerals and possibly fluids. Your veterinarian can do some simple tests to determine if this is ECE or another disease process. The disease is then treated but, most importantly, your veterinarian will be able to supplement your ferret so the loss of nutrients does not cause a severe malnutrition in your ferret.