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Cat Constipation - What Your Cat's Bowel Movements Are Telling You

How to Keep Your Cat "Regular"

By Madeleine Burry. July 17, 2013 | See Comments

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Cat Constipation - What Your Cat's Bowel Movements Are Telling You

Constipation can be a painful and very unsettling feeling, even for cats. You might be surprised how easy it is to prevent, and even treat, your cat's constipation. Find out what the tell tale signs are, and how to keep your cat "regular."

Constipation makes it challenging for your cat to form and pass bowel movements. Normally, cats will use the litter box to defecate a couple of times a day.  If your cat’s bowel movements occur less than daily, this is an indication that your cat is constipated. This can occur for a few different commonplace reasons, and is a fairly typical occurrence, especially for older cats. Find out more about the causes and treatments of cat constipation, as well as some signs that will help you identify when your cat has this problem.

Causes of Constipation in Cats

Dehydration is one prime cause of constipation. Hairballs also make it challenging for your cat to defecate, as well as any other internal blockage. It’s possible that your cat will experience constipation either as the result of a disease, such as hyperthyroidism, tumors, or kidney disease, or in reaction to medications, like antihistamines. Constipation can also occur because of something your cat has ingested aside from hair -- this could be string, bones, or anything else small enough for your cat to ingest that shouldn’t be part of their diet.

Another common reason for constipation is litter box issues. Cats are finicky about the litter box, so if it is stinky and unclean, it’s possible that your cat will be reluctant to use it. Cats can also become reluctant to use the litter box if there is a new cat in the household, and the cats are having trouble sharing, or if you get a new litter box or use a new kind of litter. Be cautious about making changes in the bathroom receptacle, and make an effort to keep it clean and stink-free.

Symptoms

If you are diligently cleaning your cat’s litter box daily, it will likely be fairly noticeable if your cat is constipated -- there will be less to scoop. You may also notice that when feces does appear, it’s dry and hard. Your cat may strain to defecate, and you could possibly hear them meowing from the litter box as they attempt to have a bowel movement. You may potentially notice them making frequent visits to the litter box, without any results. Some other symptoms are a bloated appearance, vomiting, or a lack of interest in eating.

Treating Your Cat’s Constipation at Home

If the litter box is a contributing factor for your cat’s constipation, be certain to devote time to keeping the litter box clean, being consistent with your choice of cat litter, and providing separate litter boxes for multiple cats.

Always provide ample water, changing it daily to guarantee that it’s appealing for your cat, and that they drink as frequently as possible. You may consider switching to wet food, which provides more fluids to your cat. A high fiber diet is also generally considered to be quite helpful.

Exercise can also help your cat with their constipation. Be sure to schedule play sessions to ensure your cat is staying active.

Treating Your Cat’s Constipation with Your Vet

Your vet may want to run your cat's bloodwork to check for any kidney issues that may be causing the constipation. Once more serious issues are ruled out, your vet may recommend that you provide a laxative to your cat to help soften their stools and make passing them easier. Enemas can also be recommended to ease constipation but be warned that cats do not enjoy them, so having a professional administer the enema is recommended. In addition, some vets will administer subcutaneous fluids during the enema, so it's best to let your vet handle the whole procedure.

More on Cat Health

How to Prevent Dental Health Problems in Cats
Treating and Preventing Hairballs
The Best Senior Cat Health Supplies

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Cat Constipation at a glance

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  • 1Typically cats defecate once a day or more often.
  • 2If your cat doesn’t have a bowel movement for more than a day, they are likely experiencing constipation.
  • 3Constipation can occur for many different reasons, ranging from insufficient hydration to medical issues.
  • 4Make sure litter boxes are clean and provide clean water. Other fixes may require your vet’s input and help.