Pet Wellness Guides > What to Give a Constipated Cat

What to Give a Constipated Cat

Posted: 05/19/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Cat , Health problems , Pet care

What to give a constipated cat? It’s a question many cat parents find themselves asking. And that’s because constipation is quite common in cats. Usually it’s pretty mild and can be alleviated with some simple home treatments. Sometimes, however, constipation can be severe and a possible indication that a more serious health issue is present. 

So how do cat parents know when constipation is severe and needs medical attention and when it is fine to treat themselves at home?

Be sure to read this entire article to learn about the causes and symptoms of cat constipation, what you can do to help your fur baby, and when to be concerned and seek medical attention.

what to give a constipated cat

Symptoms of Constipation in Cats

Constipation refers to infrequent stools and/or stools that are difficult for your cat to pass. In general, cats poop every 24-36 hours. If your fur baby is pooping less often and if she strains to go, it could be that she’s constipated. If it has been more than 48-72 hours since your cat has had a bowel movement, it’s important to contact your vet.

Here are some other signs to look for that may indicate cat constipation:

  • Dry, hard stools
  • Stools outside of the litter box
  • Being vocal (crying) when straining
  • Going into and out of the litter box multiple times in a row

If you have a male cat, it’s very important to understand that signs of constipation can mimic signs of a urinary blockage. Male cats can often become blocked with urinary crystals that get lodged in their narrow urethra. Pay close attention and make certain your male cat (that you think is constipated) is actually passing urine. If not, get him to the vet immediately as a urinary blockage is a very serious health issue that can lead to death if not treated in time.

Constipation may also be a symptom of a larger, more serious issue. If your cat is showing any of the following signs along with constipation, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet:

  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Drinking more or less water
  • Peeing more
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Difficulty jumping up
  • Walking stiffly
  • Hiding

what to give a constipated cat

What Causes Constipation in Cats?

Mild constipation can be caused by a lack of moisture in the stool. So anything that may cause dehydration in your cat may result in constipation. One of the biggest, most obvious culprits is feeding your cat a dry food diet.  

Constipation can also be caused by stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can negatively impact the motility of the intestines. That is to say that stress slows down the movement of stool through the intestines. Have you recently moved? Have you adopted another cat or a dog? Anything that can stress your cat can cause constipation. 

Constipation can be the result of a bowel disease such as IBD or nerve problems, allergies, chronic diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and even some types of cancer.

Immediate Relief of Cat Constipation

If your cat is constipated, you will need to get her to the vet and get her some relief as soon as possible. Stool that sits in the colon for any length of time can actually damage and distend the colon, so it’s important to get that stool out.

Your vet may decide to give your cat an enema to remoisten the stool to help it pass quickly and naturally. In addition, your vet may give your cat subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids to help. 

IMPORTANT: You should never try to give an enema to your cat or dog yourself as you can easily rupture your pet’s colon and intestines. Enemas should only be given by licensed veterinarians. 

Your vet may also prescribe medication or recommend over-the-counter solutions to help your cat pass her stool. Do NOT buy and/or give your cat any constipation medicine that has not been recommended by your vet. Many medicines that are safe for people are actually toxic to cats.

Home Remedies for Constipation in Cats

Once the stool is out and your cat is feeling relief, you can try one or more of the following tips to help reduce the chance of constipation in your cat in the future:

Increase Her Water Intake

Simply drinking more water is one of the best ways to stop constipation from coming back. If you have one of those cats that just doesn’t drink much, there are things you can do to try and entice her.

First, you can get more water into her diet by switching to a wet food. Making this one change alone can significantly increase her water intake and lower the chance of constipation.

You can try adding more water bowls to your home. Or better yet, have some bowls and a fountain. Many cats prefer running water to still water. 

Give Novel Proteins a Try

Food allergies can cause inflammation in your cat’s intestines that can lead to constipation. It may be that your cat is allergic to chicken or beef, two of the most common food allergens to cats. Your vet can do a blood test to see what your cat is allergic to. Those can be pricey so you can also try an elimination diet. Opt for foods that use novel proteins like rabbit, quail and venison instead of chicken and beef. 

And, since cats can be allergic to many different ingredients, you can try a limited ingredient food that uses a novelty protein for the highest chance at success.

Minimize Stress and Anxiety

Cats like routines! They become easily stressed when their routine has been compromised. Something big such as a move might have disrupted her routine as can something small like construction noise down the street from you. Think about using natural solutions to help reduce stress. Feliway is a calming synthetic pheromone, and some supplements like Solliquin can also be used. Speak with your vet for guidance.

Increase Exercise

Exercise is necessary to promote normal movement of the intestinal wall. If you have an older cat or one that sleeps most of the day, make time to engage with her and get her to be more active. 

Add Fiber or Probiotics

Fiber can help to move things along in your cat’s GI tract and also help to hold more water as well. You can try a wet food that has pumpkin included, or try to mix a little plain canned pumpkin into her wet food. Many cats do not like the taste of pumpkin, however, so experiment.

You may also want to try adding probiotics or “good bacteria” to help support a healthy GI tract. Your vet can recommend a good product to use.

Final Thoughts

Cats are very prone to becoming constipated. For some, it may be fairly mild and you can help by using some of the tips we’ve provided. For other cats, the constipation may be severe and a sign of a more serious underlying health condition. If your cat has been suffering with constipation, it’s important to bring her to the vet for a checkup and seek your vet’s guidance on how to treat and manage.

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References:

  1. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/constipation-in-cats “Constipation in Cats”
  2. https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_constipation_obstipation “Cat Constipation: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.”

 

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