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What makes feces sticky?
February 12, 2013 2:08 PM   Subscribe

What causes feces to sometimes leave excessive, difficult-to-remove residue on the perianal area or on toilet paper? What causes it not to leave any residue at all? Is it related entirely to macronutrient intake (fat, fibre, water)? Or are other factors involved?

(Supplementary questions. If it is caused by a high-fat, low-fibre diet, does that mean low-carbers always have sticky feces? And why is cat feces never sticky?)
posted by dontjumplarry to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
What goes in must come out, more or less. Are you familiar with the Bristol Stool Scale?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:17 PM on February 12, 2013


I am, but it seems to address consistency and ease of passage rather than stickiness.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:26 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find more fibre equals less, you-know, residue-y.
posted by Lescha at 2:47 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would argue that cat feces are sometimes sticky. Most of the time (at least in my case), by the time I scoop from the litterbox they've had time to dry out. If you get them fresh they can be a bigger variety of textures.
(I may be misinterpreting what you mean by sticky though, with regards to cat poop)
posted by Fig at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Besides the post-digested food that you've eaten, the other sticky things I can imagine are intestinal mucus and the surface polysaccharides of fecal bacteria.

The phenomenon you're talking about might also be affected by water content. Most humans stay pretty well hydrated, but the longer that feces stays in the large intestine, the drier it becomes. Thus people on low-fiber diets would tend to have drier feces because it takes longer to transit. People on high-fiber diets transit faster and may have wetter feces.
posted by Mercaptan at 2:50 PM on February 12, 2013


I would argue that cat feces are sometimes sticky.

Next time your kitty does the hey-look-at-my-butthole thing, take a piece of moistened toilet paper to it. I think you'll be (un)pleasantly surprised.
posted by phunniemee at 2:51 PM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


In my experience, this type of stickiness never happens when I'm eating enough fiber (35+g/day) regardless of what else I'm eating (fat/protein/carbs).
posted by quince at 2:58 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've heard of this being a symptom of less benign things. IANAD, but maybe you should tell yours just in case?
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 6:39 PM on February 12, 2013


[TMI warning!]
In my experience, sugar makes it sticky. I don't know if it's sugar because it's refined, or because it's fructose, but in the past, I've been known to pig out on oreos or something, and, well, sticky. Oreos also have a lot of vegetable shortening, so maybe that's it too. I've knocked off the Oreos primarily for this reason.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:22 PM on February 12, 2013


I've heard of this being a symptom of less benign things. IANAD, but maybe you should tell yours just in case?

I know I phrased the question like it was an unusual medical symptom I was experiencing! But I'm just referring to natural variation in post-defecation asshole cleanliness -- some definitely need wet wipes, while others turn out not to need wiping at all.
posted by dontjumplarry at 11:13 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


A large part is intake, but there are other factors involved.

A cat has an intestine which processes mainly protein and produces cat output (which definitely does vary on a cat-to-cat day-to-day basis).

A rabbit on the other hand, would not only die from lack of the right nutrients, but also from awful intestinal blockage if it ate a cat diet. But if you give it rabbit-food inputs, it can manage to produce two different outputs (one of which isn't technically feces) just by processing things in different ways.

Therefore, the determining factors are intake and processing. Processing depends on your species, hydration, stress, physical activity, hormones... Lots of fiber plus not enough water leads to constipation (which is actually going to tend to be cleaner). On the other hand, lots and lots of fiber plus lots of water can lead to some very squishy results, not so clean at all. A good brisk run for a few miles might induce runners trots, even if all the other inputs are designed for clean output. Etc.
posted by anaelith at 3:11 AM on February 13, 2013


What causes it not to leave any residue at all?

To a first approximation: psyllium husk. Easily pays for itself in roll reductions.
posted by flabdablet at 6:46 AM on February 13, 2013


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