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What To Do If Your Cat Is Constipated

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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

REVIEWED BYDr. Jacob Vencil, Veterinarian, Palencia Pet Clinic

Constipation in cats is a pretty common scenario, especially for obese, middle-aged, and senior cats.

Next Look For Signs Of Constipation

Now that you’ve ruled out a UTI, let’s address constipation. Be aware that some cats may be found straining in locations other than the litter box. The reason? Cat psychology. The cat goes to the litter box and strains to have a bowel movement. The straining causes pain and the pain is then associated with the litter box. Your poor cat may attempt to go to the bathroom in places such as the bathtub or on your favorite rug. Do not scold your cat for this as scolding will feed the negative association.

Constipation Treatments To Help Your Cat Pass Stool

While there are ways that you can treat your catâs constipation at home, the reality is that you should get a vet to take a look at your pet first. This will ensure that there is nothing more serious going on, and your home remedies for your catâs constipation will suffice.

âConstipation can be managed effectively at home, but the initial diagnosis should really be done by a trained professional,â says Dr. Garside. This is for a critical reason: Just because you donât see your cat defecating doesnât mean itâs not happening â especially in the case of outdoor cats.

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Available Treatments For Cat Constipation

Even though some constipation cases are mild and can be treated with lifestyle and diet changes, in addition to at-home remedies, some situations can be severe and require veterinary care. These serious issues can also become emergencies if they are not treated.

Constipation has to be treated as fast as possible to lower the risk of permanent damage as a result of prolonged distension of the colon.

The underlying problem has to be identified and fixed in order to treat your cat’s constipation. Impacted feces should be removed and recurrences prevented. The inability to pass urine or feces, or pain when passing urine or feces, is considered a veterinary emergency. Your veterinarian may first run any applicable diagnostic tests, then provide fluids or an enema for immediate relief, and prescribe medications or recommend over-the-counter meds.

We need to stress that veterinary expertise is mandatory in order to safely and effectively perform the enema – these should not be done at home as some types of enemas designed for humans are toxic to cats.

If your cats constipation is long-term or they are suffering from obstipation , they may have megacolon, an enlarged intestine due to a defect in the colons muscle strength.

Cats with chronic constipation or megacolon that doesn’t respond to medical treatment might need to have the infected section of their large intestine removed.

At-Home Remedies for Treating Your Constipated Cat

What Are The Signs Of Constipation In Cats

My Cat Keeps Trying To Poop But Nothing Comes Out

The primary symptom of constipation is that your cat will go several days without passing feces. However, as every cat does have slightly different bowel movements, it is good to know what other signs to look out for. These include the following:

  • Your cat poops outside the litter box or avoids it altogether
  • Your cat licking its genital area and tail more frequently
  • Your cats stools are overly hard and dry
  • You notice blood in your cats stools that it does pass

In many cases, your cat will not poop but act normal aside from the above symptoms. This is usually because they dont like their litter box or they are not getting intaking enough water, either through drinking or because they are on a predominantly dry cat food diet.

In other cases, symptoms of any underlying condition could also present. For example, you might notice changes in appetite, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, and behavioral changes.

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Health Benefits Of Pumpkin For Cats

Plain pumpkin is a good source of fiber for cats. In fact, many veterinarians turn to pumpkin as a remedy for constipation in feline patients.

Dr. Angelo Maggiolo, medical director of County Animal Clinic in Yonkers, New York, often recommends pumpkin as an easy fix for mild cases of constipation in cats. It will get the colon moving a little better in cats predisposed to constipation, he says.

And while pumpkin is a good source of vitamins A and C, which help support vision and immune system health, Meyers advises that its not necessary to use pumpkin as a vitamin supplement. Cats are generally not deficient in these vitamins if theyre on a well-balanced diet, she says.

Pumpkin also contains zinc, which can help improve a cats skin and coat, and cucurbitacin, a biochemical compound that is thought to have some activity against intestinal parasites. However, with a well-balanced diet and proper veterinary care, most of these concerns can be taken care of without the need for pumpkin.

What To Do If You See Your Cat Scooting

Your cat scooting action plan is pretty simple. Start by taking a close look underneath your cats tail.

Take your cat to your vet as soon as possible if you notice:

  • An open wound

If you dont see any of those, check for any other irritant that could be causing your cat to scoot. If possible, wash gently underneath your cats tail and monitor their behavior for continued scooting.

If theres no obvious culprit and your cat continues to scoot, contact your vet and get your pet checked out.

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Watching For Your Cat’s Constipation

Track the frequency of your cats litter box deposits and stool consistency initially for at least twice a week, then weekly or biweekly.

If you see hard, dry feces, or if you notice that your cat is straining while defecating or exhibiting other symptoms of constipation, contact your veterinarian – especially if diarrhea is a factor as dehydration may quickly become a problem.

Do you think your cat is constipated? Contact our Stockton vets immediately to schedule an appointment. We will be able to diagnose the cause of your kitty’s constipation and provide them with the best possible treatment plan.


How Do You Treat My Cats Constipation

My cat poops funny

1. Changing your cats food

Changing to a high fiber diet in the form of canned food is important for the long-term management of constipation in cats. Ideally, this new food should be high in soluble fiber, which is important for increasing water into the stool, and is highly digestible/fermentable. With cat constipation, I prefer canned food however, not all cats will eat that! If your cat only eats dry food, please know that there are high fiber, prescription dry cat foods too. Remember, when it comes to cats, diet changes should occur very slowly to allow them plenty of time to acclimate. Psyllium products can also be sprinkled onto food, but keep in mind that some cats wont eat readily.

2. Fluid therapy

Whether given under the skin or in the vein directly , this is an important way of helping hydrate your cat and restore some moisture into the feces. This is also why its so important that your cats water intake is enhanced by providing clean, fresh water at all times!

3. Stool softeners

There are several types of stool softeners used in cats. These can be over-the-counter or prescription . When in doubt, always check with a veterinarian first prior to using these as they can cause secondary side effects .

4. Enemas

5. Prokinetics

These are drugs that help the gastrointestinal tract contract more. These are prescription medications from your veterinarian such as cisapride , metoclopramide, and ranitidine. Cisapride is thought to be the most effective.

7. Surgery

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Why Is My Cat Not Pooping But Acting Normal

To understand why your cat isnt pooping, we first need to understand the normal physiological processes for the formation of healthy stools.

This process is as follows:

  • Your cat chews and swallows the food. It passes down the esophagus and into the stomach.
  • In the stomach, enzymes start to break down and digest the food into smaller pieces that the body can later absorb.
  • This broken-down food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine where more enzymes continue to break down the food. Simultaneously, the nutrients are taken up by the small intestine and enter the bloodstream.
  • The remaining indigestible food then passes to the large intestine, at which point water is absorbed from the mixture to form stools.
  • This dried waste collects at the rectum, at which point your cat poops it out.
  • If your cat hasnt pooped for several days, it is because too much water is removed from step four of this process. This causes any stools that do form to be much drier and harder than usual. As a result, it is much more painful for your cat to pass these stools out of the body. This leads to a reluctance in pooping and constipation.

    Pawp Vets Can Advise You On Your Cats Constipation Anytime

    If your cat is constipated, the best thing that you can do is have a vet take a look at them. Of course, sometimes itâs not possible to see your local vet â and thatâs why Pawp is available to help.

    Pawpâs trained, experienced vets are available to see your cat anytimeâno appointment needed, and no waiting necessary. Sign up for to ensure that no matter when your cat needs to see a vet, there is a vet available for your pet to see â without astronomical prices or wait times.


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    What To Do About Cat Poop Issues

    As a rule of thumb, never try a home remedy for your cats poop issuesor for any maladywithout first checking in with your veterinarian, Schwartz says. Cats are very particular with their sensitivity and tolerance to over-the-counter medicines, he says.

    In addition, its always important to make sure your cat has access to fresh water and is drinking enough of it, he says. Elderly cats are commonly dehydrated because they tend to drink less, and are prone to diseases that increase their water intake needs.

    Jones reminds pet parents to relate their cats stools with how the cat is acting. If your cat is lethargic and the stools change, that is cause for concern, he says. If the cat is normal and the stools change, normally I will give them a little time and look for other clinical signs of disease.

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    Peeing Or Pooping Outside Of Their Litter Boxes

    My Cat Is Trying To Poop But Can T

    Not only is this inconvenient and upsetting for you, but these signs can also indicate a range of problems for your cat. It could be that something in their environment is stressing them out or it could indicate a medical problem that warrants investigation. Its important to note that cats dont do this out of revenge cats with osteoarthritis, for example, may not be able to climb over the sides of the litterbox. Either way, bring them to your veterinarian sooner rather than later so you can quickly get to the bottom of it, for everyones benefit.

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    Monitor Your Cat For Constipation

    Monitor the frequency of your cats defecation and stool consistency at least twice a week initially, and then weekly or biweekly.

    Contact your veterinarian if you notice very hard, dry feces, or if you notice that your cat is straining while defecating. Watch for any of the other signs of constipation, and contact your veterinarian if you notice diarrhea, especially, since this can quickly lead to dehydration.

    Is Cat Constipation An Emergency

    For the most part, you dont have to worry if your cat is constipated. While cats who eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise shouldnt get constipated, cat constipation is a fairly common issue. You can usually treat constipation by adjusting your cats diet and making sure theyre getting enough water for a few days. However, more extreme cases of constipation may require laxatives and other treatment.

    Its important to note that cat constipation can become an emergency if left untreated. Constipation tends to get worse if you don’t do anything about it, and your cat needs to defecate. If your cat hasnt defecated in more than two or three days, you need to visit a veterinarian to for evaluation

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    Why Is Your Cat Constipated

    It is vital at this point to find out the root cause of the constipation. Some common causes include age, obesity, and lack of exercise, but some triggers are harder to pinpoint. You can follow these steps to reduce the likelihood of an episode:

  • Always allow access to clean, fresh water.
  • Choose an appropriate diet. Strictly dry cat food does not provide sufficient water intake. Many cats have fewer episodes when on food containing good fiber content.
  • Reduce environmental stress. Being in a new environment may cause a cat to hold a bowel movement.
  • Cats that are post-surgery may not go potty for two reasons: the pain and stress of surgery, and an empty stomach .
  • What If There Is Blood In Cat Poop

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    Dont panic if you notice blood in your cats stool. It might just be that your cat had a bit of constipation and strained too hard while trying to go. If the problem continues and theres a lot of blood, the blood is bright red, or other concerning symptoms come up, take your cat to the veterinarian. Your cat may have an issue that requires medical treatment, like infection, parasites, food allergy, polyps, cancer, or bowel obstruction.

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    How Often Should A Cat Poop

    A normal cat bowel movement should happen about every 12 to 36 hours. How long can a cat go without pooping? If you notice your cat pooping less frequently or having difficulty, it may be a sign of constipation. There is always some normal variation in the time frame for bowel movements. But if you know your cat hasnt pooped in over 72 hours, you should contact your vet.

    Frequency Of Your Cats Bowel Movements

    Cats are all different as far as regularity, but most will have once daily bowel movements, Schwartz says.

    As cats age, however, they may have less frequent bowel movements, Waldrop says. You may even see times when they skip a day.

    But if your cat goes more than two days without stool production, its best to call your vet. When cats are constipated, they will strain or take an inordinately long time in the box, or frequent the box with no stool produced, Schwartz says.

    On the other hand, too much stool can also indicate something is wrong. If your cat consistently has more than two bowel movements a day, you should consult with your vet, Waldrop says.

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    Determine If You Need To Change Your Cats Diet

    Feeding your cat the right diet can play a crucial role in keeping your cat healthy. Consult with a vet to determine the best food option for your feline. Cats can suffer from digestive issues, diabetes, cancer, or other medical conditions that require a special diet to help address the issue.

    Additionally, add a WiFi-enabled Feeder-Robot to help automate your cats feeding schedule and monitor their eating habits.

    Consistency Of Your Cats Poop

    Canât even poop by myself

    To know what loose or hard stool looks like, youll first need to know what regular, healthy stool looks like. The ideal stool should be firm and shaped like a log, a nugget, or a combination of the two, Waldrop says.

    Keep in mind that the ancestors of domestic cats were desert dwelling creatures. As such, their colons are very effective at removing moisture from the stool, which means its normal for their stool to be firm, Waldrop says. I have a lot of clients bring in normal stool for analysis thinking their cat is constipated, he says.

    Anything that is not formed is considered diarrhea, Waldrop says. Whether its liquid or pasty, its abnormal and should be evaluated.

    Schwartz notes that its important to keep an eye on the consistency of your cats stools, especially since cats are prone to inflammatory bowel disease, which is a relatively common cause of diarrhea.

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    What Cat Poop Reveals About Overall Health

    Just like for humans, your cats feces can be a predictor of important things going on inside his body. For example, a cat with abnormal feces may be suffering from a digestive disorder or liver or kidney disease, says Dr. Alan Schwartz of Compassion Veterinary Health Center in Poughkeepsie, New York. In a relatively normal cat, can also be a sign of a sensitivity to the diet offered, as well as parasites, he adds.

    Diarrhea can also indicate intestinal upset and inflammation, Jones adds, so its important to get it checked out. It can be caused by anything from worms to things stuck in the intestines, and many other potential problems, he says.

    An abrupt change in your cats diet will almost always cause a change in stool, Schwartz says. Diet changes can temporarily affect the smell, color, and quality of your cats poop, notes Dr. Mark Waldrop of the Nashville Cat Clinic. If your cat is otherwise healthy, however, these symptoms should resolve within three to five days. While your cats feces will never smell like roses, a notable worsening in smell should be evaluated, as it can be a symptom of intestinal disease, Waldrop stresses.


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