One of the most frequently occurring digestive disorders of cats is constipation. Constipation is most common in middle-aged and older cats.
There are many home remedies including natural laxative remedies to relieve constipation.
There are many reasons that a cat can’t, or won’t defecate. Cats can be reluctant or unable to defecate because of behavioral or medical reasons such as pain. Cats may be reluctant to use a dirty litter box, or not like having to compete for the litter tray. Foreign bodies such as sticks in the colon or anal area can cause pain when passing stool. Anal sac infections or cat bites around the anus can result in pain when defecating. Pain in the lower back, tail, hips or knees may cause squatting and straining to be uncomfortable. Constipation can also result from hair balls, especially in long haired-cats. Undigested fur can cause constipation. Illness such as inflammatory conditions of the bladder, or colon cancer can also be the culprit.
The colon works to maintain the body’s fluid balance. The colon reabsorbs water from fecal material as it passes through the digestive tract. If fecal material remains in the colon too long, too much water is removed. This makes the stool hard and difficult to pass out of the body. If your cat experiences chronic constipation, the colon can become weakened and distended, causing a serious condition called megacolon. In megacolon, the chronically distended bowel loses its ability to contract properly, leading to extremely severe and painful constipation. In cases of megacolon, a cat should be immediately evaluated by a veterinarian.
Symptoms of Cat Constipation
- Lack of eating meals. Also, the abdomen may be distended or tender.
- Cats with constipation have fewer bowel movements than normal. The may even stop having them altogether.
- The passing of small, hard, and dry stools
- Increased trips to the litter box, typically with non-productive straining.
- In the case of a bowel obstruction, a cat may pass fecal fluid, or blood-tinged feces rather than formed feces. This happens because the retained feces irritate the lining of the large intestine and stimulates fluid secretion. This can be mistaken for diarrhea. Cats may lose their appetite and start to vomit as the condition progresses. In severe cases cats may collapse and appear very cold. An emergency trip to the veterinarian is suggested.
- Constipated cats usually strain while squatting in the litter box and may howl from abdominal pain. Be sure not to rely on straining as the only symptom of constipation. A cat will also strain if she has a disease such as colitis or urinary tract blockage or infection, a very serious condition seen especially in male cats. Both conditions require immediate veterinary care.
Before you change your cat’s diet or give medicine of any kind, get specific instructions from your veterinarian.
Never use laxatives for cats that may have a bowel obstruction. If your cat is unable to defecate at all, she may have a complete obstruction. This requires immediate veterinary care
- Keep your cat regularly groomed. Regularly brushing your cat reduces the ingestion of hair into the digestive system. Often, hairballs can cause or increase the severity of a cat’s constipation.
- Clean the litter box frequently. Remove the cover to reduce smells within the litter box. Cats are very clean in nature and often won’t use the bathroom if the litter box is not clean.
- Give you cat a stimulant laxative. The dosage can depends on the size of the cat. Consult a veterinarian for the recommended dosage.
- Mix some canned pumpkin in with your cat’s regular food. You may need to shoot it into his mouth with a syringe. Approx. 1 tablespoon per day. Constipation relief usually occurs in as little as 24 hours.
- Add fiber in your cat’s diet. Mix bran or Metamucil or similar product with the cat food. Approx. 1 teaspoon.
- Use a natural herbal remedy such as Natural Moves for Pets. These pills not only relieve constipation but also promote digestive health.
- Give your cat 1/4 to 1 tsp of magnesium citrate powder dissolved in very hot water. Once the powder is dissolved add a little cooler water to make it easier to drink. You can also syringe feed the magnesium citrate to your cat. The magnesium can be given 2 or 3 times the first day.
- Give you cat a stool softener such as DSS (docusate sodium). You doctor can recommend or prescribe one.
- Give your cat pediatric glycerin suppositories. They may not like have a suppository in their rectum, but it does work.
- Giver your cat slippery elm bark. It relieves constipation and coats the stomach lining and reduces irritation.
- Keep your cat well hydrated. Dehydration is a leading cause of feline constipation. Cats require a lot of water.
- Switch to wet cat food if you are offering only dry food. Wet food contains a sufficient amount of water which can help the cat overcome constipation.
- For severe constipation give your cat a saline enema (introduction of fluid into the rectum), with manual evacuation. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before administering.