Monday, April 15, 2024

What To Do If My Cat Is Constipated

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Applying Eye Drops To Cats

The proper administration of eye medication is critical in helping your cat quickly recover from an eye injury or infection. Gently clean away any debris around your cat’s eyes with warm water and a washcloth. Hold the bottle using the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand with the tip pointed downwards. Use the last two fingers of the same hand to pull back the upper eyelid. Place your remaining fingers under the cat’s jaw to support the head. The lower eyelid will act as a pouch to receive the drops. DO NOT touch the eye’s surface with the applicator. Aiming for the center of the eye, squeeze the desired number of drops onto the eyeball.

Medical Treatments For Cat Constipation

If your cat has chronic or severe constipation, veterinary treatment is necessary. For chronic constipation, your veterinarian may prescribe a stool softener or laxative. For constipation caused by dehydration, they may administer intravenous fluids.

Or, in the case of a block-up that needs to be removed immediately, the vet may perform a warm water enema. You should never administer an enema at home unless specifically instructed and trained by your vet.

In very severe cases of constipation in cats, the vet may opt to perform surgery to remove a blockage or fix the colon. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the prognosis for these surgeries is generally good. And rest assured: occasional, minor constipation is far more common and easier to treat at home.

What Can The Vet Do For Cat Constipation

If home remedies arent quite cutting it, a visit to your veterinarian may be in order. In addition to providing an actual diagnosis, vets have additional methods for relieving cat constipation within the clinical setting.

One thing the vet is likely to do is to make sure that the diagnosis is correct.

Other underlying health concerns, like a urinary tract infection, may present with similar symptoms. Its important that the vet confirms that constipation is, in fact, the problem being faced.

There are a number of blood tests that the vet can perform to rule out other medical diseases.

Abdominal palpation exams can also help determine the extent of constipation. In addition, radiography and ultrasound exams may be performed to further assess the extent of the blockage in the colon.

Once constipation has been clearly identified as the problem, there are multiple options available to veterinarians. First, a vet is likely to introduce intravenous fluid therapy, which essentially provides additional hydration for the feline.

The vet may also recommend a dietary change for the cat. Depending on the cats medical history and other health risks, there may be a special formula of cat food that can help balance out specific digestion problems.

Another option that veterinarians have available to them is to perform a warm-water enema. The basic premise of this approach is to flush the colon manually, releasing stuck feces or any other items causing a blockage in the colon.

How To Encourage A Cat To Use The Bathroom Constipation


Use a soft tissue or a baby wipe to stimulate the kittens anus in a circular motion, continuing movement until and while the kitten is pooping. This will signal to the kittens body to push, and will encourage them to have a bowel movement.


Catconstipation symptoms can be alleviated if you make sure theyre keeping hydrated throughout the day. Have water bowls within reach in different places in the house to remind your cat to drink more. Its a good idea to choose in wide water bowls as cats usually prefer their whiskers not to touch the sides.

What Can I Give My Cat For Constipation

How to help a cat with constipation?

If youre wondering what you can give your cat to relieve constipation, this is a great source. Like many pet owners, I can sometimes be a bit of a hypochondriac over my cats. Even the smallest sign that there may be something wrong sends me into overdrive to find out all of the information available on the topic.

This recently happened when I noticed that the litter box seemed unusually empty for two days in a row. I immediately started researching feline constipation to see if there was anything I could do to help my furry friend out!

It turns out that Im not the only one who has been confronted with this somewhat embarrassing situation. Theres no need for you to feel embarrassed about the topic or start opening up incognito windows in your web browser because Ive got all the important information compiled here.

So here it is: What can I give my cat for constipation? In addition to promoting increased hydration, additional fiber intake, and regular exercise, pet owners can choose from a number of natural laxatives, such as pumpkin, and over-the-counter remedies for cat constipation. In severe cases, veterinarians may perform an enema or surgery if constipation poses an immediate threat to the cats health.

Constipation In Cats: Its Never Normal

Nikki Schneck, a veterinary technician near Pottsville, PA, contributed to this article.Many cats are notorious for not drinking much water. This makes them prone to constipation. It would be a major error to take this condition lightly. Constipation is never normal. It can lead to a lot of suffering and a poor quality of life, so it should be taken seriously.Why is constipation in cats a big deal?First, constipation is not a pleasant experience for any cat. Second, repeated episodes of constipation can cause irreversible enlargement of the colon. Serious constipation can lead to a condition where the cat cannot expel stools at all, and needs an enema. At worst, a cat can be so blocked up or impacted, and the colon so enlarged, that surgery is the only option.What causes constipation in cats?The most common causes of feline constipation are:

How can you prevent constipation in cats?Here are several ways to decrease the risk of constipation in cats:

How To Remedy The Situation

The treatment for your kitty will depend on the severity and the cause of the constipation. Obviously, if theres an underlying health condition, such a gastrointestinal obstruction or fractures, those need to be addressed.

With mild cases of constipation, your veterinarian may recommend adding a small amount of plain canned pumpkin to your kittys food every day for additional fiber and moisture. He or she may also recommend switching to a diet with more fiber.

Despite what you might hear online, do not give your cat mineral oil because it can cause vomiting and your cat may subsequently aspirate the oil.

For cats that are dehydrated, providing subcutaneous fluids, encouraging drinking and/or switching to a canned diet that contains more water can help reduce the occurrence of hard, dry stools. Still other kitties may need laxatives, stool softeners or medications to improve intestinal motility. In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend an enema to loosen up and remove the logjam.

What If There Is Blood In Cat Poop

Dont panic if you notice blood in your cats stool. It might just be that your cat had a bit of constipation and strained too hard while trying to go. If the problem continues and theres a lot of blood, the blood is bright red, or other concerning symptoms come up, take your cat to the veterinarian. Your cat may have an issue that requires medical treatment, like infection, parasites, food allergy, polyps, cancer, or bowel obstruction.

What Can You Do In Home To Help With My Cats Constipation

If you notice that your cat is still producing some feces daily, there may be some preventive measures you can take to avoid serious constipation. Here are a few things to try:

  • Keep clean and fresh water out to ensure that your cat is drinking enough.
  • Brush regularly. For long-haired breeds or cats prone to hair balls, brushing regularly can help keep excess hair from the digestive tract.
  • Change your cats diet. Try feeding a canned diet and/or adding fiber to the diet. Fiber can help waste move through the digestive system easily and quickly.
  • Try adding pumpkin or natural bran cereal to our cats food. Fiber supplements increase fiber in the diet as well.
  • Some cats will need to try a laxative such as Miralax or Lactulose, to stay regular. You may need to consult with your veterinarian prior to starting a laxative.
  • Use a vet-recommended cat probiotic for digestive health

Baby Kittens Cant Poop On Their Own

Its also important to understand that neonatal kittensthose under a month of agemay not be physically able to poop without assistance. Young kittens requirestimulation from their mothers tongue in order to defecate. If orphaned, they need to be gently stimulated by a caregiver before every meal. Use a soft tissue or a baby wipe to stimulate the kittens anus in a circular motion, continuing movement until and while the kitten is pooping. This will signal to the kittens body to push, and will encourage them to have a bowel movement.

Treatment Of Constipation In Cats

Once your veterinarian has determined the underlying cause of your cat’s constipation, he or she can determine the best course of treatment. For minor or acute cases of feline constipation, your vet may recommend treatments like:

  • Increased hydration:

    You may increase your cat’s hydration by providing more water at home. Your vet may also use intravenous hydration to treat your cat’s constipation.

  • Stool softeners:

    Stool softeners may be given orally to help your cat defecate normally.

  • Laxatives:

Home Remedies For Cat Constipation

The most common cause of constipation in cats and kittens is inadequate hydration. Cats are natural predators, and their daily food intake of meat should provide them with about 75% of their hydration needs. Most of their water will come from their food source, unless youre feeding them dry food exclusively; in this case, they will only be getting 10 12% of their hydration from food, and wont be able to make up the difference in their water bowl so make use of an automatic cat feeder to help them out.

In any case, here are some home remedies for cats with constipation.

Pureed Pumpkin

There are many different sources of pureed pumpkin. You can get packages from your local pet store, or you can buy the canned versions from your local grocery store. If in season, your local grocery store or farm may have small pumpkins for sale, that you can bake and puree. This may seem like a lot of work, but natural is always best!

Dont give kitty straight pumpkin puree, although they may like it on its own. Its best to mix it in with a bit of dry food, or canned food. One teaspoon with some kibble should be plenty.


Water is always the best and most natural treatment for constipation in cats. Have a ready supply of water beside your cats food dish, and add wet food to his diet for added hydration.

Canned Food

Olive Oil

How Is Constipation Treated

My cat is constipated, what can I do to help it?  ViralBezz

The treatment prescribed depends on the stage of constipation as well as the cause. For severe cases, the cat may be given a fluid therapy. The fluid helps correct the electrolyte imbalances resulting from dehydration.

In some cases, the veterinarian may inject water-soluble jelly or warm water enemas before gently evacuating the colon.

Sponged forceps are commonly used in this case. If the constipation is recurrent or the cat suffers from irreversible colonic inertia, surgery may be necessary to repair the colon.

What To Do If My Cat Is Constipated

Your vet will diagnose your cat with constipation based on physical exam findings and asking you about their medical history, as well as their feeding habits. Because there are so many possible causes of constipation in cats, the vet might need to run multiple diagnostics tests, such as:

  • Blood work to check blood sugar, protein level, liver and kidney function, and salt balance, as well as a complete blood count to check the red and white blood cell count.
  • Urine test to see how well the kidneys are working.
  • Abdominal ultrasound or x-rays to rule out cancer.
  • A thyroid value for constipation in older cats over 8 years old.
  • Endoscopy to look at the inside of the cats colon and/or colonoscopy to retrieve biopsies.

Try A Stool Softening Product

In some chronic cases where hydration alone just doesn’t cut it, you might need to keep a stoll softening product or a laxative on hand. These usually come in the form of a tasty paste which can be fed directly or added straight onto the food. These are not suitable for kittens; only adult cats.

What are the best laxatives for cats? If your cat’s constipation is sudden, your vet may recommend lactulose, which works by osmotically increasing fluid production in the lumen of the intestine.

However, for ongoing management most veterinarias recommend a paraffin-based product. Paraffin is an oil which coats the faeces and helps provide lubrication to prevent hard, dry faeces from ‘getting stuck’. Unlike lactulose, paraffin doesn’t draw fluid from the body into in the intestines, so it won’t depelete your cat of water and electrolytes. However, prolonged use of paraffin can prevent the nutrients in your cat’s food from being absorbed, so we only recommend using occasionally.

Products that contain paraffin as the active ingredient include Aristopet Paste, Hartz Hairball Remedy, and Troy Laxapet Gel.

Our top laxatives for cats include:

Laxapet Gel is suitable for use in constipation or hairballs. With paraffin as the active ingredient, this product is safe and a great option to keep things moving.

Next Look For Signs Of Constipation

Now that you’ve ruled out a UTI, let’s address constipation. Be aware that some cats may be found straining in locations other than the litter box. The reason? Cat psychology. The cat goes to the litter box and strains to have a bowel movement. The straining causes pain and the pain is then associated with the litter box. Your poor cat may attempt to go to the bathroom in places such as the bathtub or on your favorite rug. Do not scold your cat for this as scolding will feed the negative association.

So What Are Clinical Signs That My Cat Is Constipated

  • Straining to urinate or defecate in the litter box
  • Having bowl movement accidents outside of the litter box
  • Having firm, dry, small fecal balls in or around the litter box
  • Taking longer to defecate in the litter box or making multiple trips to the litter box
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration

Now, keep in mind that normal healthy cats dont typically become constipated. As a veterinarian, I see feline constipation more in the following:

  • Middle-aged to older cats 
  • Obese cats
  • Cats with osteoarthritis that may have pain jumping into the litter box 
  • Cats with underlying medical problems

Should I Watch My Cat For Constipation

Track the frequency of your cats litter box deposits and stool consistency initially for at least twice a week, then weekly or biweekly.

If you see hard, dry feces, or if you notice that your cat is straining while defecating or exhibiting other symptoms of constipation, contact your veterinarian – especially if diarrhea is a factor as dehydration may quickly become a problem.

Is your cat showing symptoms of constipation? Visit our Somerset County veterinary emergency hospital to receive urgent care for your cat. Any time of the day or night, our emergency vets are here whenever your pet needs us.


Other Causes Of Constipation In Cats

  • An underlying symptom of diabetes
  • Megacolon

Despite all the many possible causes constipation, dehydration and an inadequate intake of fluids are typically culprit number one, so its important to pay attention to how much your cat is getting to drink on a daily basis.

While dehydration is a common cause of constipation, it is second only to a cat suffering from megacolon. This is a condition where your cats colon experiences a gradual loss of muscle tone, which makes it harder and harder for your cat to poop.

Megacolon can lead to a serious and painful case of impaction. It can even result in your cat eventually needing to be euthanized, simply to put an end to their suffering.

Causes Of Constipation In Cats

The most common cause of constipation in cats, though, is a condition called megacolon. Megacolon is exactly what it sounds likethe colon becomes overly dilated and the muscles become weaker. It can be a primary condition, meaning it is what is causing your cat’s constipation, but it can also be secondary to your cat’s constipation. If your cat struggles with constipation because of another cause, such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, spinal problems, etc. repeated episodes of constipation can cause megacolon in your cat.

Diagnosing A Cat With Constipation

How do I combat my cats constipation?

Unfortunately, if you suspect that your cat is constipated, you may need to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Especially if the situation is getting bad, and diet changes and water monitoring doesnt seem to be improving the situation.

Your veterinarian will want a very thorough background history, and they may request blood chemistry profiles, blood counts, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel, just to make sure everything is looking as it should.

They may also require an x-ray, especially if they believe your cat is impacted.

How Are Constipation And Megacolon Diagnosed

In most cases, a diagnosis of constipation can be made on the basis of the cat’s clinical signs and medical history. Affected cats usually strain unsuccessfully to defecate, and may cry in pain. Any feces passed are hard and dry. The cat may also show signs of lethargy, reluctance to eat, abdominal pain and distension, and vomiting.

Unless your cat is obese or tense, your veterinarian can often palpate or feel the accumulated fecal material in the colon. Further tests may be needed in order to diagnose the cause of the constipation. These may include abdominal and pelvic radiographs to look for pelvic injuries, colonic strictures , or tumors, as well as bloodwork and urine testing to look for underlying disease conditions that can contribute to constipation. Radiographs are also the primary test for the diagnosis of this condition.

How Do You Treat My Cats Constipation

1. Changing your cats food

Changing to a high fiber diet in the form of canned food  is important for the long-term management of constipation in cats. Ideally, this new food should be high in soluble fiber, which is important for increasing water into the stool, and is highly digestible/fermentable. With cat constipation, I prefer canned food; however, not all cats will eat that! If your cat only eats dry food, please know that there are high fiber, prescription dry cat foods too. Remember, when it comes to cats, diet changes should occur very slowly to allow them plenty of time to acclimate. Psyllium products can also be sprinkled onto food, but keep in mind that some cats wont eat readily.

2. Fluid therapy

Whether given under the skin or in the vein directly , this is an important way of helping hydrate your cat and restore some moisture into the feces. This is also why its so important that your cats water intake is enhanced by providing clean, fresh water at all times!

3. Stool softeners

There are several types of stool softeners used in cats. These can be over-the-counter or prescription . When in doubt, always check with a veterinarian first prior to using these as they can cause secondary side effects .

4. Enemas

5. Prokinetics

These are drugs that help the gastrointestinal tract contract more. These are prescription medications from your veterinarian such as cisapride , metoclopramide, and ranitidine. Cisapride is thought to be the most effective.

7. Surgery

Preventing Constipation Is Key

Once the constipation episode resolves, it is important to prevent future episodes from happening. Over time, the colon may lose muscular motility and cause a condition called megacolon . In such a case where medications are tried with no results, the cat may need external help to evacuate the bowels. Techniques may include enemas and the manual extraction of impacted feces; this is a permanent condition requiring repeated medications, trips to the veterinarian’s office, or surgery.

Do not use human enemas on cats! Fleet enemas and those containing phosphate, sodium phosphate, or saline, can be fatal.

Why Is My Older Cat Not Using Its Litter Box Anymore

A cat can develop a fear of its litter box that is medical or psychological in nature. The most common explanations for this include:

  • It hurts to defecate
  • The litter box hasnt been cleaned
  • The litter within has changed scent or texture
  • There is too much litter in the box
  • The litter box is in a noisy area
  • The litter box has been moved
  • The cat has outgrown its litter box
  • Another cat is using the litter box

Cats are fussy about their litter box, so it must meet these criteria:

  • Cleaned no less than once a day
  • Located in a quiet area, away from noise or footfall
  • Unique to the cat. Multiple cats require multiple litter boxes
  • No more than two inches of a familiar, unscented litter
  • Large enough for the cat to fit into comfortably

If you are confident that your litter box is not the problem, the issue could be a urinary tract infection. UTIs make elimination painful. Your cat may think that its the litter tray thats hurting it and avoid it. Consequently, it will hold in its waste and become constipated.

As the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery explains, feline UTIs frequently reoccur. This means that antibiotics may only provide temporary relief from the problem.

A cat without a UTI may still avoid its litter box due to discomfort. Constipation is painful as the stool is so hard and difficult to pass.

How To Make An Elderly Cat Poop When Constipated

A senior cat should empty its bowels no less than once a day. Any less than that regularity suggests that your elderly cat is constipated.

Keep your cat regular with an age-specific diet and exercise. Provide stool softeners or mild laxatives to relieve constipation. You can also encourage cats to eliminate manually. Rubbing a damp washcloth on a cats anus mimics the sensation of a mother cat licking a kitten.

You can usually treat feline constipation at home, but dont allow the problem to go unresolved for longer than 24 hours. With dietary and lifestyle changes, your older cat should start to go to the toilet regularly.

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Monitor Your Cat For Constipation

Monitor the frequency of your cats defecation and stool consistency at least twice a week initially, and then weekly or biweekly.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice very hard, dry feces, or if you notice that your cat is straining while defecating. Watch for any of the other signs of constipation, and contact your veterinarian if you notice diarrhea, especially, since this can quickly lead to dehydration.

Signs Your Cat Is Constipated

Cats are often quite private about taking care of business But in order to spot cat constipation signs, you have to familiarize yourself with his poo.

“There is a misconception that if a cat is constipated, the stool inside is a larger diameter than a normal stool. While this can be the case, sometimes stool from constipated cats is very small,” Anthony says. “This is because a small, hard stool is difficult for the colon to move outward. The longer stool sits in the colon, the more water is pulled out.” This creates an uncomfortable cycle: the colon removes water , the poo gets harder and drier, and kitty can’t pass it.

Litter doesn’t stick to dry poo, so that’s one sign. Another is that it’s often very dark brown, but diet might alter color. Here’s a twist: Anthony says some pitiful kitties strain so hard that they push liquid feces around the harder stools and appear to have diarrhea.

If your cat seems sluggish or meows in discomfort when you pick him up or try to pet him, it’s time to spy on his bathroom habits Anthony says you might notice: 

  • Strain while he uses the litter box.
  • Hes not passing a good amount of stool .
  • Defecation outside the box.
  • He vomits after trying to go.

Any of these symptoms are reasons to visit your veterinarian right away. 

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