Cat constipation might be a health problem that’s not talked about enough, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. The process of how a cat becomes constipated is complicated, so it’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause of the issue. Some signs might indicate a cat is constipated, including increased frequency of bowel movements, straining with defecation, and decreased appetite and weight loss.
Cat owners should keep an eye out for these signs and take their kitty to the vet if they suspect something is wrong. Sometimes there are underlying health issues that need to be addressed before their kitty can start having regular bowel movements.
This article discusses cat constipation, cat health in the context of the digestive system, the things to do to take care of your constipated cat, and the best-wet food you can give your pet!
Let’s get started!
What is Constipation?
In general, constipation refers to the abnormal accumulation of faeces in the colon. There may be less defecation or no excretion as a result of this. There is a retention of faeces in the colon (large intestine). Colon tissue is primarily responsible for absorbing water, so retained faeces become hard and dry, making passage more difficult. Abdominal pain occurs as a result of constipated cats straining to defecate. The excessive straining of some constipated cats may result in them passing liquid faeces or blood. A small number of liquid faeces can squeeze around the hard faecal mass when the cat strains, which is sometimes mistaken for diarrhoea.
Causes of Constipation
Many things can cause cats to become constipated. Identifying the reason for your pet’s inability to go to the bathroom is a good idea once you’ve noticed this problem.
It’s important to note that dehydration is not the only cause of constipation. An adult cat’s digestive tract could be blocked by hair, kidney problems, feline megacolon, an imbalance of fibre in the diet, or over-grooming. Moreover, they might be avoiding cat litter trays, experiencing side effects from some medications, or not getting enough exercise.
In cats, constipation can also be caused by hernia, tumours, or nerve problems. In addition, they could be ingesting something that doesn’t agree with them, causing their colon to become obstructed.
What is Megacolon?
Most cats suffer from constipation because of megacolon, or in simpler words, a dilated and weak colon. Weakened colon muscles are incapable of pushing faecal matter out. This may be caused by neurological impairment, colonic muscle problems, or both.
Depending on the length of time someone has been constipated, megacolon can be a primary or secondary condition. In the event of chronic distention of the colon from faeces, its ability to contract may be reduced or lost, which results in megacolon. As a result, faeces are accumulated in this abnormally distended and enlarged colon.
Is My Cat Constipated?
It can be challenging to detect constipation in cats depending on where they go to the bathroom. It is usual for cats to poop every 24 to 36 hours, but if your cat does not poop often, has to strain to poop, or has no poop at all, they are likely constipated. Unless your feline friend does it frequently, there is probably nothing to worry about. You should see your veterinarian if they don’t have a bowel movement in 48 – 72 hours or if it happens frequently. Your cat may be very uncomfortable (and possibly in great pain) if they are constipated.
In addition to these symptoms, you should be aware of a few others. A tense abdomen, hunched posture, and lack of appetite can be signs of cat constipation. Furthermore, you should keep an eye out for small, hard, dry stools, as well as straining when scooping your cat’s litter box.
At-home remedies are usually effective for treating cats who suffer from constipation.
Treatment (Veterinary Medicine & Home Remedy)
As a cat owner, identifying and correcting the underlying problem can help a cat with constipation. To prevent recurrences, it is recommended to remove impacted faeces. Veterinarians consider urinary blockage and faeces pain to be veterinary emergencies. In the first instance, your veterinarian may perform diagnostic tests, prescribe medications or prescribe over-the-counter medications, and offer fluids or an enema for immediate relief.
Your cat may benefit from these at-home remedies if he is constipated:
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Lose weight, reduce anxiety, and promote normal intestine movement through exercise
- Get a new diet (lamb, chicken, limited ingredients or hypoallergenic diets)
- Fibre-rich foods, canned, pureed pumpkin once or twice a day, or ginger to alleviate constipation
- Give probiotics
- Keep your cat’s weight in check
- Laxatives are over the counter, but check with your vet first, as these may worsen symptoms.
Although some constipation problems can be treated with lifestyle and dietary changes, as well as at-home remedies, others may require the attention of your veterinarian. There may be an emergency when severe constipation arises. To reduce the risk of permanent damage caused by prolonged dilation of the colon, you and your veterinarian must treat constipation as soon as possible.
Suppose your cat has been constipated for long periods or has obstipation (inability to empty her colon on her own). In that case, she may have megacolon, an enlarged intestine caused by weak colon muscles. A section of the large intestine that is affected by chronic constipation or megacolon may have to be removed through surgery when medical treatment doesn’t work.
Cat Constipation Diet-Can It Help?
The digestive tract is a common problem with indoor cats. Blockages in the digestive tract can sometimes indicate severe conditions but are usually not alarming. Some breeds of cats are indeed more prone to stomach problems than others. Still, overall, most felines will suffer from digestive problems, such as diarrhoea, constipation, and vomiting throughout their lives.
Despite genetics and undiagnosed illnesses causing stomach problems, your indoor cat’s diet and daily activities are influential factors. It is essential to make sure your pet eats appropriately and in the right amounts during the day. This will affect almost every aspect of their life, including how they poo.
A well-balanced diet rich in animal proteins and fibres is the best way to treat feline constipation. Milk and cheese are hard-to-digest food items and ingredients. Your veterinarian may recommend over-the-counter stool softeners and dietary supplements if your elderly cat has problems stooling. Cats of all ages can suffer from constipation, even kittens.
What the Best Diet Is for Constipated Cats
Most likely, your feline companion is lacking the following nutrients in their diet if they are having difficulty pooping or not pooping at all:
- Animal protein
Since cats prefer fresh, running water over stale water from a bowl, they don’t drink much. Constipation is caused by inadequate hydration of the digestive tract. The moisture content of high-quality wet and semi-moist cat food supports regular bowel movements. Prepare homemade meals like soups and broths to increase their water intake.
Canning food usually contains the following ingredients, in addition to water:
- Animal protein – In canned goods, your cat receives vital micronutrients, including taurine, that are necessary to support his digestive health, eye function, heart and liver function, reproductive health, and metabolism.
- Good fats – Your feline companion can stay active with only a tiny amount of fat as an energy source. However, be careful with letting your cat ingest too many fats because an overweight cat might contract serious health issues!
- Vitamins and minerals that are essential – Besides being rich in natural vitamins and minerals (i.e., potassium, vitamin B complex, zinc, etc.), high-quality wet cat food contributes to the wellness of your feline.
Best Wet Food for Cats with Constipation
Hills Prescription Diet Digestive Care
Your cat’s digestive system will benefit from this specially formulated food. Aside from improving digestion and stool quality, it is also an antioxidant, providing your cat with the tools they need to do their business successfully.
This food contains highly digestible proteins and fats as well as fibres that are beneficial for maintaining gastrointestinal health. In no time, it will get your cat’s bathroom habits back to normal with this wet or dry food made with easy-to-digest ingredients. However, note that buying this food requires a vet’s approval.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Grain-Free Wet Cat Food
A grain-free, high-fibre, moisture-rich recipe, Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Grain-Free Wet Cat Food has an easy-to-digest texture. Besides being grain-free, these wet food trays also contain no artificial ingredients or meat by-products, and all recipes are made with meat protein. Allergy-prone and sensitive cats are better off eating this food. It also promotes your cat’s health by adding vitamins and minerals, such as taurine, which is often lacking in cat foods.
There is a reasonable amount of protein and fibre in this food, considering that it is wet food. You should introduce rich food gradually, so you do not go from one extreme to the other since some cats struggle with it, causing diarrhoea. Some cats don’t like this food, so if your cat is particularly picky, you may need to look for other options.
Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food
Added probiotics aren’t clear if they assist with constipation, but this food contains the patented BC30 probiotic, which supports the body’s natural bacteria population.
Guar gum and agar-agar binding agent are included in the food, which is meat-based and contains multiple sources of animal protein, including turkey and tuna. Constipation can be relieved with these fibrous binders.
Besides pumpkin, the food contains several other trace amounts of fruits and vegetables, which can help cats with constipation.
Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Food
Several gastrointestinal foods are available from Royal Canin. Choosing a recipe for your cat will depend on its needs and the benefits each recipe offers. It is necessary to obtain a prescription from a veterinarian to purchase any of these foods.
Royal Canin Standard Gastrointestinal Food
In addition to helping your cat sort out any digestive problems, their traditional gastrointestinal food keeps their tummies happy. You can feed it to your cat, and it will provide all the nutrients it needs.
In addition to prebiotics, Royal Canin Standard Gastrointestinal Foods bears probiotics, which support the balance of good gut bacteria in the body. Digestive health is supported by the blend of fibre and digestible proteins in this product.
Royal Canin Moderate Calorie Gastrointestinal Food
For cats prone to weight gain, the moderate calorie food gives them all the benefits of their traditional food plus a little extra. Your cat will remain healthy and slim with this low-calorie food.
Royal Canina Fiber Response
For cats suffering from constipation, this food is high in psyllium to help maintain a healthy transit. This food is moderately energy-rich and low in calories, so it keeps your cat active for more extended periods.
Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Funk In The Trunk Chicken in Pumpkin Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Almost universally recommended for cats suffering from constipation, this chicken-based canned food features a pumpkin. A binder is available in the form of locust bean gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum. The benefits and drawbacks of including gums in your cat’s diet are controversial, so let’s explore each.
In addition to being a laxative, guar gum contains fibre. Constipated cats can be given it directly by some people. Even though it is a plant component and has little nutritional value for cats, it appears to be completely safe.
There is, however, a need to proceed with caution when dealing with xanthan gum. The fermentation medium in xanthan gum may carry traces of the simple sugar fermentation process. Xanthan gum can be harmful to cats with allergies to corn, soy, wheat, or dairy. Fortunately, however, feline pets rarely have allergies to corn, soy, wheat, and dairy.
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Duck Pate Canned Cat Food
The goal of this food is to provide your cat with a good meal. To promote healthy bowel function, it’s meat-based and moisture-rich. There are several additions to this food that can benefit constipated cats, even though it contains more plant matter than some other canned foods.
Flaxseed, another fibre-rich ingredient that can increase gut motility, is another ingredient in the formula. Chicory root extract is also included, which stimulates the growth of probiotics.
Lotus Duck Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
There are no grains in Lotus Duck Pate, which is grain-free canned cat food. The top ingredients are meat-based proteins, taurine, vitamins, and chelated minerals, among others. It has good quality ingredients. A diet containing 4% fibre should help shift gut blockages after introducing the food gradually and allowing it to take effect for a few days.
Cats may experience constipation due to taurine’s benefits for their vision and digestion. Taurine can also help prevent constipation in cats by maintaining their vision as well as omega fatty acids, flaxseed, fish oils, and blueberries offer powerful antioxidant properties.
Despite its grain-free texture and pungent smell, this grain-free recipe includes a broth mix meant for cats. However, some cats may be put off by its pate texture. While it is expensive food, it is free of grains and GMOs and includes only limited ingredients.
Should I Watch my Cat for Constipation?
Maintain a record of your cat’s litter box deposits and stool consistency at least twice a week for the first week and then weekly or bi-weekly after that.
Consult your veterinarian if your cat has hard, dry faeces. Consider this as well if your pet is straining during defecation or exhibits other signs.
When is Might Surgery Necessary?
A surgeon may recommend surgery if megacolon occurs or if medical treatment fails to cure constipation. An operation called a partial or subtotal colectomy involves removing the affected portion of the colon. In most cases, these surgeries are very successful, and there are few side effects.
Long-term Outlook for a Cat with Constipation
Depending on the cause of constipation, the long-term outlook varies, but most cats can remain healthy without surgery. It is generally good news for cats who require surgery to correct megacolon.
That’s all! Cats are known to have a sensitive stomach and a complex digestive system, so they may suffer from constipation. One way to avoid this is by feeding them the best wet or raw food. A high-quality wet food for cats can relieve their symptoms of constipation and provide other benefits, including improved digestion, weight loss & more. Just note that for prescriptive food, you must seek a veterinarian’s advice!
We hope your cat gets well soon! Healthy cats are happy cats!
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a cat act when constipated?
Minor, complex, dry stools may occur, so ensure to check cat poop. Also, owners sometimes mistake straining as difficulty urinating by mistakenly believing they’re having trouble urinating. Hunched posture and a lack of appetite (occasionally) are also constipation-related behaviours.
Is a constipated cat an emergency?
Stool passability problems are uncomfortable and can become very serious over time. In case your cat is suffering from strain and discomfort, you should seek immediate veterinary assistance.
How do you feed a cat that is constipated?
It is recommended to feed it with canned wet food. Faeces will be softer and more hydrated when they contain more water. You can flavour dry food with water if your cat refuses canned food. Fountains and running water are good sources of water.
How do you stimulate a cat to poop?
You can alleviate constipation in cats sooner if a cat drinks fibre supplements like Metamucil and eats foods high in fibre, such as pumpkin puree and canned wet food.
How many days can a cat go without pooping?
You should be concerned if your cat does not poop within 48 hours, especially if they strain to defecate, but nothing comes out. Pets should ideally have bowel movements every single day, but depending on GI transit time and diet, there can be some slight variations.
Can anaesthesia cause constipation in cats?
Infections, anaesthesia, and surgery can make bowel movements difficult. In some cases, the body may take several days to recover the normal function of the gastrointestinal system. Your pet is not required to pass a stool every day.
Does cat constipation pose a threat to life?
While constipation may seem like an innocuous problem, it can lead to life-threatening diseases for many cats.
What do vets do for constipated cats?
Your cat may need surgery if a colonic tumour is present. Veterinarians can treat constipation in cats initially by administering enemas and manually extracting faeces. Anaesthetics or sedatives are often used to remove faeces from the colon.