Constipation in Cats

Many cats are notorious for not drinking much water. This makes them prone to constipation. It would be a major mistake to take this condition lightly. Constipation is never ever normal. It can cause a great deal of suffering and a bad quality of life, so it should be taken seriously.

Constipation in Cats Is Never Normal

First, constipation is not a pleasant experience for any cat. Second, repeated episodes of constipation can trigger irreversible enlargement of the colon. Serious constipation can result in a condition where the cat can not expel stools at all, and needs an enema. At worst, a cat can be so blocked up or “affected,” and the colon so enlarged, that surgery is the only alternative.

Main Causes of Constipation in Cats

Constipation is a condition seen most frequently in middle-aged and older cats.

The reason for constipation and obstipation (the severe, end-stage kind of this disease procedure) is believed to be multifactorial. A few of the prospective causes include:

  • Blockages from hairballs or other foreign products
  • Unwillingness to use the litterbox due to the fact that of stress, a change in litter, a full/dirty box, or painful urination
  • Lack of workout
  • Reduced water intake
  • Dehydration, typically caused by kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Arthritis, making it painful to squat
  • Growths
  • Some drugs, including anesthetics
  • Injury

In some felines, a condition called megacolon contributes to constipation and obstipation. Megacolon is characterized by a decreased capability of the colon to move fecal material through in the regular method. Fecal product collects in the colon, leading to constipation. Researchers think that megacolon is brought on by an issue with contraction of the muscles in the colon. It has also been suggested that severe extended retention of feces (similar to constipation or obstipation) can extend and damage the muscles of the colon, triggering megacolon to establish. Nevertheless, the reason for megacolon is undetermined for the most parts.

Can Hairballs Cause Constipation in Cats?

Hairballs and constipation are two of common issues that adult cats need to deal with. Long haired cats tend to suffer the most from hairballs, while overweight felines might have to fight constipation. Here are some tricks on how to keep things running efficiently from mouth to tail.

Hairball is merely an accumulation of groomed hair in the stomach. It rolls around while the stomach agreements occasionally triggering vomition and elimination of the hairball. Cat’s tongues were made to swallow fur. The one method barbs gather lose fur while grooming. The bulk travels through the digestive tract without occurrence and occasional hairballs are normal. Frequent hairballs might show a medical problem and warrant at least a physical exam by the vet.

Signs and Symptoms of Constipation in Cats

Felines with constipation or obstipation may exhibit the following signs:

  • Infrequent or no defecation
  • Straining to defecate
  • Difficult, dry feces
  • Defecating outside the litterbox
  • Small quantities of feces
  • Percentage of liquid stool with mucus or blood
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of cravings
  • Anxiety

Male cats with a blocked urinary tract might likewise strain in the litterbox. Owners might mistake this for constipation, which is an issue considering that a blocked urinary tract is a medical emergency situation. If your feline is straining in the litterbox and there is no evidence of urine or just a percentage of urine, contact your veterinarian instantly!

Vets may be able to palpate (feel) the abdominal area to find firm feces in the intestines. In overweight cats, nevertheless, abdominal fat can restrict a vet’s ability to feel fecal product in the intestines. In these cases, a radiograph (X-ray) might be essential to examine the problem. When it comes to obstipation or megacolon, the colon will be greatly stretched beyond its normal size.

Sometimes, an endoscopic test might be required. Anesthesia is needed for this procedure, which involves placing a tube consisting of a little cam into the rectum. This enables the veterinarian to look inside the anus and colon for irregularities such as constricting of the colon or tumors that may prevent feces from passing. A biopsy of the tissue might also help recognize other disease processes that are causing/contributing to this procedure.

Vets will also suggest blood work to search for underlying diseases that might cause dehydration resulting in constipation.

ConstipationSmall, hard, dry poopLess than once a dayDehydration, megacolon, dietary issues
ConstipationSmall, hard, dry poop that has a lot of hairLess than once a dayHairballs, over-grooming
ConstipationThin, ribbon-like poopLess than once a dayColon problems, like a tumor

Impacted Breeds

All breeds of cats are susceptible to developing constipation.

How to Recognize the Signs of Constipation in Cats?

In order to determine the malaise of the cat due to constipation, the owner should know how the pet behaves when experiencing problems with defecation.

Straining to Defecate

An indicator of constipation is straining to defecate. If your constipated feline can press any feces out, the amount is very little. Pooping ought to never be a challenge for your feline good friend, so bear in mind when pooping becomes a difficulty.

Crying Out in Pain

Crying out in pain frequently accompanies straining to defecate. Like dogs, felines are notorious for concealing pain. For that reason, if your cat vocalizes when trying to utilize the bathroom, you can be sure that something is very incorrect.

Characteristics of Stool

If your cat is straining to defecate or crying out in pain when utilizing the bathroom, examine further and identify whether they are passing any fecal matter. Typically, constipated cats will have little, tough, and dry stools that may likewise be covered in blood or mucous.

Frequent Trips to the Litter Box Without Defecating

Constipated felines make regular trips to the litter box but can not eliminate themselves. If your cat is going to the litter box more frequently than usual, figure out whether they are really constipation

Signs of Abdominal Pain

Feline constipation often causes extreme abdominal pain. Even the friendliest of felines may hide when company comes over for fear that any additional touching or playing might cause more pain.

Appetite Loss

A constipated cat will likely skip out on meals because of their moderate to extreme stomach pain. Keep a close eye on your cat’s food consumption.

Weight Loss

In a constipated cat, weight loss may be caused by minimized hunger, decreased water consumption, or both. Dehydration can rapidly make a feline quite ill, so pay very close attention to how much water your cat is drinking.

Lethargy or Excessive Laziness

If you’re constipated, you probably don’t want to move much. The same opts for constipated felines. Lethargy and laziness are tricky symptoms for pet moms and dads to see, however, due to the fact that cats can be couch potatoes and enjoy their naps. Nevertheless, if your usually spirited cat has recently been retreating to their bed regularly than usual, they may be constipated.


Constipation can also cause vomiting, particularly if the constipation is severe.

Absence of Grooming

Lastly, if your cat is spending less time grooming themselves, they may be constipated. Cats are known to be rather the cleaners. A lack of grooming indicates that a cat isn’t feeling their best.

Non-Specific Symptoms

Lots of feline constipation symptoms are nonspecific, indicating that they can likewise be found with other health conditions. For instance, changes in feline stool can also be a sign of a food allergy and digestive tract parasites. Weight loss is also a sign of depression and cancer. Therefore, feline owners must seek precise responses from their vet for any symptoms their cat is experiencing.

Constipation in Cats Treatment

Treatment differs depending upon the level of constipation and the amount of pain an animal is experiencing. If constipation is mild, vets might supplement a cat’s diet with fiber, such as canned pumpkin, bran, or psyllium. Other medications, such as stool softeners, laxatives, and motility modifiers, may help, as well.

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If an underlying condition, such as kidney disease, might be causing dehydration and constipation, dealing with the issue and rehydrating the cat with fluid therapy can help.

For more severe kinds of constipation, enemas may be needed. Anesthesia for manual removal of feces might be advised in severe cases.

In cases of megacolon, the size of the colon can sometimes be extended so far that the muscles of the digestion tract are completely damaged. When this occurs, surgical elimination of the affected portions of the colon may be required. Postoperative complications can include chronic diarrhea, but this procedure is frequently considered a lifesaver.

Home Remedies for Cat Constipation

For basic constipation, mix a little canned pumpkin into his/her food. Also, if the constipation is caused by furballs, attempt a little castor oil to assist it pass.

Increasing water usage is key to assist constipation in cats. Some felines choose to have their water source in a various location than their food. Have multiple fresh water sources readily available. You can try a leaking faucet, a continuous flow cat water fountain, and ice cubes. In addition, you can taste water with tuna juice or clam juice. If your cat eats dry food, switching to canned is an easy method to considerably increase their water intake.

The following over the counter products may ease your cat’s constipation, however make sure to consult your veterinarian before providing any medications to your cat.

  • Laxatone is an edible petroleum gel that helps oil your feline’s digestion tract. It comes in various tastes and your feline might lick it off your fingers.
  • Metamucil is a source of fiber. Mix one to 4 teaspoons with your feline’s food every 12 to 24 hours.
  • Miralax is another laxative and stool softener. Mix 1/4 tsp once a day with wet cat food.
  • Wheat bran is another natural source of fiber. Mix one to 2 tablespoons with your cat’s food every 12 to 24 hours.
  • Canned pumpkin gives fiber however it does not actually supply as much fiber content as Metamucil or Miralax. You can add 1-2 tablespoons to each meal.
  • Increase water usage by making additional water sources offered far from your feline’s food, changing to a canned diet, or perhaps mixing a little additional water in with the food.
  • Maintain healthy weight by changing your cat’s diet in assessment with a veterinarian.
  • Increase exercise with cat toys and more play time.

The gastrointestinal tract of cats is a bit different from individuals, so high fiber diet plans do not constantly help constipation.

In reality, sometimes a low fiber diet works better. A lot of it depends upon the cause of the problem. The important thing to comprehend exists is typically an underlying cause of constipation and the cat need to be given a veterinarian to help figure it out.

When Constipation in Cats Requires Surgery?

Extreme or terminal constipation is called obstipation. A feline with obstipation is suffering and has an unpleasant quality of life. The colon is so stretched by large, rock-hard stools, that it is incapable of expelling them. The muscles of the colon become unable to do their task. In those cases, medications, diet changes and enemas spoil. The objective of surgery (called a colectomy) is to eliminate the unhealthy, giant colon. Generally carried out by a board-certified surgeon, this fragile surgery can be a life-saving treatment. Lifestyle is typically outstanding after surgery.


Due to the fact that dehydration is often involved in constipation, making certain cats have adequate access to clean water is essential. Similarly, if a feline has kidney disease or another illness that inclines to dehydration, extra fluid therapy might be recommended. Cats with arthritis may gain from joint supplements or pain medication, and cats with a history of constipation may benefit long term from a special diet or supplement that provides additional fiber.

Constipation Preventing Tips

  • Feeding your feline canned food is an easy way to increase water intake. Dry food may include about 10-20% water, whereas canned food might have 80%.
  • Make certain there are multiple litter boxes if you have a number of cats.
  • Tidy each litter box at least daily.
  • Different felines prefer different types of litter. Ensure your cat appears pleased with the litter you choose.
  • Talk about a daily laxative with your veterinarian.
  • Increase workout and lively activities.

Obstipation and megacolon might be prevented in many cases by extremely assiduous observation of the cat’s elimination habits and medical management of the disease process throughout.

Reyus Mammadli/ author of the article

I have had pets since childhood: cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, geese, chickens, ducks, parrots, aquarium fish and dogs (in the yard). Of course, I constantly encountered diseases of pets and treated them. Glad to be able to share my skills and experience, as well as advice on caring for and adapting these critters and birds.

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