By Dr. Michelle Rose
One of the most common problems with a cat’s digestive tract is constipation. Most cats have a bowel movement at least every 1-2 days but this may vary between cats depending on how much and what kind of food they eat. Here’s a rundown of the most probable causes for cat constipation, what preventative measures you can take, and when to see a veterinarian.
CAUSES OF CAT CONSTIPATION
There could be many reasons as to why your cat is showing signs of constipation. They can range from not getting enough water to a serious, underlying medical condition. The most common causes of cat constipation include:
Abnormal colon shape or inflammation of the colon
Litterbox avoidance (doesn’t like the litterbox and therefore does not use it)
Cat constipation is usually associated with one or a few of the following symptoms:
Loss of appetite
Dry, hard stools
Lack of grooming
Frequent trips to the litter box without defecating
Lethargy, not responding to you as usual
WHAT CAN YOU DO IN-HOME TO HELP WITH MY CAT’S 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 cat’s 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.
WHEN SHOULD I SEE A FULL SERVICE VETERINARIAN?
You should definitely take your cat to a full-service veterinarian or urgent care if you notice any of the following:
It has been more than 48 hours since your cat has defecated
Your cat has not eaten or had water for more than 48 hours
You see blood in your cat’s stool
Your cat stops grooming
Any signs of abdominal discomfort
Cat constipation can also be an indication of a different, potentially serious, underlying problem. You may need to have your cat examined by a veterinarian in the case your kitty needs more intensive care such as enemas, surgery or receiving fluids. By conducting a thorough physical examination and discussing your cat’s symptoms, your veterinarian will be able to decide what additional tests may be needed.