Constipation in Cats: Symptoms and Treatment
or infrequent bowel movements-is one of the most common health problems
associated with a pet’s digestive system. Cats usually have at least one
healthy bowel movement every day. But if your cat is passing dry, hard stools,
straining when trying to defecate or making unsuccessful trips to the litter
box, please see your veterinarian. These symptoms may indicate an underlying
How Can I Tell if My Cat Is Constipated
If your cat suffers from any of the following symptoms, please
consult your veterinarian. These signs may also be symptoms of urinary
disorders, so it’s important that your vet helps you to determine the cause
- Straining or crying out in pain when trying to eliminate
- Small, dry, hard stools, possibly covered in mucous or blood
- Frequent, unproductive trips to the litter box
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Displays of abdominal discomfort
- Lack of grooming
What Causes Cats to Become Constipated
There are many reasons why your cat may have trouble
- Low-fiber diet
- Hairballs/excessive grooming
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Tangled hair on the buttocks
- Ingestion of foreign objects such as string, cloth, bones, etc.
- Side effect of medication
- Tumor or other intestinal obstruction
- Neurologic disorder
- Abnormal colon shape or motility
How Can I Treat My Cat's Constipation?
Depending on what’s causing your cat’s constipation, your vet
may recommend one or several of the following treatments:
- Stool softener
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, please). It is
important to note that cats do not take kindly to these procedures, and some
over-the-counter enemas contain substances that can be toxic to cats. This is a
procedure best left to your veterinarian.
- Medication to increase the contractile strength of the large intestine
- Manual evacuation of the bowels
- Surgery to remove obstruction in the bowels
- Veterinarian-prescribed, high-fiber diet
- Adding fiber to your cat’s diet with canned pumpkin, bran cereal or a
product such as Metamucil
- Increase in water consumption
- Increase in exercise
Which Cats Are Susceptible to Constipation?
Elderly pets often suffer from infrequent or difficult bowel
movements. However, the condition can occur in any cat who doesn’t eat adequate
fiber, get enough water or exercise, or suffers from one or more of the causes
Can Constipation Hint at Larger Health Problems?
Yes. Constipation should always be investigated, as it can be a
symptom of diabetes, hyperthyroidism, an obstruction of the rectum or a
How Can I Prevent My Cat from Becoming Constipated?
Feed your cat a healthy high-fiber diet with minimal treats,
provide access all day to clean, fresh water and make sure she gets exercise.
Brushing your cat regularly will minimize chances of hairballs, which can lead
What Can Happen if Constipation Goes Untreated?
If your cat’s constipation is not alleviated, obstipation-the
inability to empty her colon on her own-can occur. In this state, the colon is
packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing unproductive
straining, lethargy, appetite loss and possibly even vomiting. This can result
in the swelling of your cat’s colon and loss of the colon’s motility.
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