How to Help a Constipated Cat

constipated petIt can be a pain to see your feline friend struggling to pass stool. It is even more heartbreaking when there is blood in your cat’s rock-hard stool. The real cause for alarm is when your cat is not defecating for two days straight. If cat constipation is not solved right away, it can lead to a build-up of hard stools in the colon.

What causes cat constipation?

Dehydration is the most common cause of difficulty in elimination. Other problems include a mainly dry food diet, lack of fiber intake, joint problems, pain in the pelvis, a lack of exercise, senior cat problems, and weight issues. Ingestion of copious amounts of cat fur and hazardous material like rubber band, string, and bones can also block the intestine and colon.

My Feline Buddy believes that cat constipation can also be behavioral in nature. Your cat may refuse to excrete when it is stressed, nervous or anxious. Introducing a new pet or moving to a new home can also cause your cat stress. Providing comfort to your cat can help it get back to its regular routine and frequency of eliminating.

At-home remedies for cat constipation

If your cat is eating and having difficulty passing stool, take note of its food consumption. A low-fiber, moisture-dense diet can lead to constipation. Dry food contains as little as 10% moisture whereas wet canned food has 70% moisture content. Replacing one meal a day with wet cat food and fiber-rich food like pumpkin or wheat bran may help prevent constipation.

Also, encourage your cats to get more physical activity. Exercise can stimulate muscle contractions in the colon and lead to a healthier digestive tract. 

Consider the cleanliness of the litter box as well as the water bowl too. Cats don’t like to drink from dirty water bowls and will hold their poop until you clean the litter box. It is wise to place the food bowl, water bowl, and the litter box in separate places. Give each cat its own water bowl too. Ice, cat fountains, and light broth can also encourage water intake.

Over-the-counter medication

In some cases, constipation is causing so much difficulty in your cat that you may want to give it instant relief. Stool softeners like Laxatone and Miralax can help lubricate the cat’s digestive tract and soften the stool. Your cat can lick flavored Laxatone from your fingers or you can mix ¼ tsp of Miralax in wet cat food. You may also opt to use natural aloe vera as a laxative.

Medical Treatment

At times, cat constipation manifests as a symptom of kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or certain cancer like a colon tumor. In the case of blockage from foreign objects, your vet may have to extract the fecal matter manually.

In case of a tumor, surgery may be necessary. Your cat may be given anesthesia. However, if constipation is a side effect of anesthesia or you have a senior cat, anesthesia is best avoided.

In severely dehydrated cats, electrolyte imbalance can also be a problem. As such, intravenous fluid therapy is the optimal way to stop constipation. Once the problem is resolved, steps should be taken to prevent constipation in the future. Recurring constipation can become a long-term problem leading to megacolon. If so, your vet can recommend colectomy to correct the problem.

A Few Reminders 

Adequate water, exercise, and a balanced diet is key to preventing episodes of cat constipation. If your cat underwent surgery or manual extraction of feces, it is crucial to cat-proof your home. In the case of an underlying illness, separate treatment and medication are called for to ensure your cat is also relieved of constipation. 

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