Constipation In The Cat
17th August 2018
Constipation is a term used to describe absent, infrequent or difficult passage of faeces .
When constipation occurs, faeces are retained longer than normal in the colon or rectum , and as a result the faeces tends to become dryer and harder , which may make the problem worse.
Animals with constipation may exhibit signs of pain when trying to pass faeces , and this may be accompanied by excessive straining to pass faeces. If there is prolonged constipation, the faeces may become severely impacted in the colon and rectum, and this is known as obstipation. With repeated bouts of constipation or obstipation the colon can become distended and lose its ability to contract and push faeces towards the rectum, a condition called megacolon .
What Can Happen If Constipation Goes Untreated
If your cat’s constipation is not alleviated, obstipation-the inability to empty her colon on her own-can occur. In this state, the colon is packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing unproductive straining, lethargy, appetite loss and possibly even vomiting. This can result in the swelling of your cat’s colon and loss of the colon’s motility.
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When Might Surgery Be Necessary
If megacolon develops or if the constipation is severe and medical treatment is unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended. Surgical treatment involves removal of the affected portion of the colon, in a procedure called a partial or sub-total colectomy. Most cats do very well with few side effects following this surgery.
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Physical And Mental Development
At birth, your kitten weighs only a few ounces. But shell grow fast, doubling her birth weight in her first week of life. If your bitty kitty is an orphan, you have a busy few weeks ahead of you. If her mother is still around, leave the heavy lifting to her. She will need her mother for warmth, stimulation of intestinal function, bowels and bladder and, of course, as a source of the ideal nutrition. Your kitten will be ready to socialize with you around 6 to 8 weeks, and adoptable between 8 to 12 weeks.
Here are some of the milestones you can expect. The small remnant of your infants umbilical cord will drop off during her second or third day of life. She is born both blind and deaf with her eyes sealed shut and her ears folded. Her ears will unfold somewhere between 6 and 14 days, and she will be able to stand and crawl at the end of her second week.
Your little one will take her first blurry glimpse of the world somewhere between 5 to 14 days after birth. Her eyes will be blue at least until shes a month old, when they may begin to change colors.
Between her third and fourth week, your fuzzy bundles teeth will begin to erupt. Like people, kittens start with baby teeth, called deciduous teeth. These will fall out to make room for adult teeth between her third and ninth month.
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Treatment For Constipation In Cats
After the cause of the constipation is found, a treatment plan will be formulated with your veterinarian. Typically, constipated cats will require enemas and intravenous fluids. Miralax or another laxative may be added to help soften the feces enough to allow the cat to pass them.
If laxatives, enemas, and rehydration with fluid therapy do not enable the cat to defecate, manual extraction of the hardened feces by a veterinarian may be required. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
If a cats constipation recurs or becomes a long-term problem, dietary management or medications may be needed to prevent a recurrence. There are prescription diets, both in kibble and canned form, that may aid the cat in passing softer stool. Oral laxatives may also be administered at home and may work to soften the stool and encourage the cat to defecate.
In cats with severe cases of megacolon, your veterinarian may prescribe pro-motility agents to aid the cats colon in contracting and propelling feces out of the rectum. It is essential to keep up with your cats bowel movements to avoid more serious complications. Encouraging the cat to drink as much as possible or adding water to its food may also help ease its constipation issues.
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When To See A Veterinarian
Mild constipation lasting up to 36 hours can often be resolved at home. However, if its been two or three days since your kitten last had a bowel movement, its probably time for a visit to the clinic or animal hospital.
Finally, remember that newborn kittens need stimulation to excrete feces. In the first few weeks of a kittens life, the mama cat encourages urination and defecation herself. A visit to the vet is only necessary if you cant make your newborn kitten poop after stimulation.
Your Cat Needs Wet Food
Wet food is probably the best cat food option for your cat, especially if shes suffering from constipation, also the best solution for your cats tummy problem, is how to make constipated cat poop.
Wet food, increase the water intake in your cat, as some cats are not that much into drinking water, well thats not their fault. But by switching to wet cat food, youre probably making the healthiest decision for your cat.
And the best part is, most of the cats will act as good kids when they are made to eat wet food.
Do you know why? Wet cat food smells too good and tastes even ten times better than dry cat food. However, you should wait until your cat fully accepts this new diet to avoid underlying health problems, some cats can be super picky.
For cats who are already on a wet food diet, all you can do is increase their water intake in other ways or choose a wet food containing more moisture.
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Cat Constipation: Signs Causes & Treatment
Visit your veterinarian. Easy as pie, right? According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, a veterinarian will examine your cats hydration levels, analyze his overall health, and rule out any other probable clinical causes of his illness. Another reason why a professional exam is the best treatment for feline constipation is that if the situation is more serious, the vet team will take quick action. In order to assist them defecate, constipated cats may require an enema at the veterinarians office.
Adding fiber, such as pumpkin or psyllium, and/or stool softeners may frequently be beneficial, as can boosting dietary moisture through canned foods or low-sodium broths, Anthony explains.
Consult your veterinarian for assistance in creating a more balanced and um, tolerable meal for yourself.
Signs That Medical Intervention Is Needed
Contact your vet in these situations:
- A pink tinge, bits of blood or a foul, sometimes fishy smell to the urine can indicate a urinary tract infection . Leakage of urine from a cat who doesnt usually leak might also indicate a UTI. Promptly call your vet.
- A blockage may be present in the urinary tract if a cat who usually leaks urine has not been urinating, or if the bladder is full or tense and youre not able to express it. Since this could be a medical emergency, immediately call your vet.
- Very watery or mucous-laden stools or very large, hard stools may indicate the need for a supplement or medicine to help add form to and soften the stool and help prevent further complications. Youll need to determine what is normal stool consistency for your particular cat. Consult your vet if you have any concerns about stool consistency or the evacuation process.
- An impacted colon can be a medical emergency. Cats prone to constipation, especially those requiring daily evacuation because they cannot physiologically defecate, are particularly at risk. If you find that you cannot express the stool and the colon is large and full, contact your vet.
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Help Going To The Bathroom
Usually a paralyzed animal will have no control over urination or defecation. Defecation will occur shortly after eating. However, an animal may need help with urination. You might have to learn how to express his bladder. Sometimes, a paralyzed animal may need his bladder catheterized. Your veterinary team will show you how to do both expression and catheterization .
Add More Fiber To The Diet
You need to find a way of increasing the size and weight of a cat’s stool and fiber does both of these things. It also softens feces making it easier to pass aim for insoluble fiber and the stool will become bulkier thanks to the addition of moisture. Be wary of adding more fiber if your cat is already getting a lot, though. In this case, it could make the problem worse and you need your cat to digest nutrients.
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Consistency Of Your Cats Poop
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.
How To Prevent Constipation In Cats
While nothing is 100 percent preventableespecially when it comes to the notoriously unpredictable creatures that are catsthere are steps that pet parents can take to minimize the chance of their cat becoming constipated. Preventing obesity and feeding a high quality commercial diet are most important, Erk says.
Wallace concurs, adding that exercise is key to helping a cat maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent constipation.
Increasing the amount of fiber in your cats diet can also boost the production of short-chain fatty acids, which stimulate colonic smooth muscle contraction, noted Dr. Susan Little while speaking at the World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings in 2011 . That being said, diets high in fiber can increase the amount of feces a cat produces, which can be counterproductive to decreasing constipation. She recommends a canned food diet, to ensure the cat is getting enough hydration.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, though. Your veterinarian can help determine the best diet for your cat.
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Change The Litter Box
It’s always a good idea to keep a litter box clean, more so if you’re worried that it could be causing cats to hold their poop. A quick fix here is to ensure your cat’s litter box is placed in a pleasant place. That way you can be sure that your cat at least feels comfortable trying to poop but if a feline already has constipation then this remedy is unlikely to resolve the issue in and of itself.
Reduce Anxiety And Stress
There could be an underlying environmental cause for constipation. Is your cat going outside and getting bullied by other cats, for instance? Or is your family life too hectic for your kitty at the moment? Maybe a dog has moved into the neighborhood or someone is having an extension built. Giving supplements such as Zylkene and Solliquin or a calming pheromone such as Feliway can work wonders.
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Diagnosis Of Constipation In Cats
The first step is to bring your pet to the vet if you notice any signs of constipation.
Sometimes problems with defecating can be confused with issues in the urinary tract. Remember to answer accurately to every question that your veterinarian may have and check the litter box before going to the vet. The medical history is crucial to diagnose constipation and the underlying cause.
Your vet will perform a medical examination. Your veterinarian may also conduct:
- Pelvic and abdominal X-rays: to diagnose Megacolon and look for traumas caused by injuries.
- Further tests: urine and blood analysis to rule out underlying conditions like renal failure.
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What Is Constipation In Cats
Most cats will poop approximately every 24 to 36 hours. If your cat is pooping less frequently, strains when she attempts to poop or doesnt leave any deposits in the litter box, constipation is likely the issue. Its a common problem in cats thats usually mild enough to be remedied with at-home treatments.
If it happens infrequently, theres no need to worry, but you should contact your vet if it becomes a common problem or if its been more than 48 to 72 hours since shes had a bowel movement. Constipation can sometimes be a sign of serious health issues, not to mention be uncomfortable .
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Symptoms Of Constipation In Cats
Constipation is characterized by infrequent stools or stools that are difficult to pass. Most cats will poop about every 24-36 hours. If your cat is pooping less frequently and having some difficulty, she may be constipated.
While there is some normal variation, if its been more than 48-72 hours without a bowel movement, you should contact your vet.
The main signs of constipation in cats are:
- Dry, hard stools
Normally, the poop is a rich brown color and should look well-formed. A healthy stool has enough moisture that litter will stick to it, says Dr. Liz Bales, VMD. Cats with constipation may have very dry, hard stools. You may find these stools outside the litter box, because the discomfort of trying to pass stool can cause cats to leave the litter box before theyre actually finished.
- Crying or straining in the litter box, or avoiding it altogether
Other signs of discomfort can be vocalizing or straining when using the litter box or going in and out multiple times before using it. Your cat may strain but not be able to poop at all. Showing discomfort in the litter box can also be a sign of serious urinary tract issues, so you should contact a vet if you see these signs.
Constipation is really a symptom of other issues, so you may also see signs of the underlying cause. These may include:
- Walking stiffly
If youre seeing any of these symptoms, with or without constipation, you should discuss them with your cats vet.
Cat Not Pooping Causes And Treatments To Help A Constipated Cat
Whether you have a cuddly indoor cat or an adventurous outdoor cat, you might be aware of your cats pooping routine. If your cat uses a litter box, you probably know how often you should expect presents, and if your cat has a favorite flowerbed in the garden, you might spot them doing their business regularly. But what happens if your cat is not pooping? How do you spot the signs of constipation, and when should you take your bunged up kitty to see a veterinarian?
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Constipation In Cats: Its Never Normal
Nikki Schneck, a veterinary technician near Pottsville, PA, contributed to this article.Many are notorious for not drinking much water. This makes them prone to constipation. It would be a major error to take this condition lightly. Constipation is never normal. It can lead to a lot of suffering and a poor quality of life, so it should be taken seriously.Why is constipation in cats a big deal?First, constipation is not a pleasant experience for any cat. Second, repeated episodes of constipation can cause irreversible enlargement of the colon. Serious constipation can lead to a condition where the cat cannot expel stools at all, and needs an enema. At worst, a cat can be so blocked up or impacted, and the colon so enlarged, that surgery is the only option.What causes constipation in cats?The most common causes of feline constipation are:
- Is the litter box cleaned often enough?
- Are there multiple cats and not enough litter boxes?
- Is there a source of stress in the household, such as a new cat or a new dog?
How can you prevent constipation in cats?Here are several ways to decrease the risk of constipation in cats:
Preventing Constipation Is Key
Once the constipation episode resolves, it is important to prevent future episodes from happening. Over time, the colon may lose muscular motility and cause a condition called megacolon . In such a case where medications are tried with no results, the cat may need external help to evacuate the bowels. Techniques may include enemas and the manual extraction of impacted feces this is a permanent condition requiring repeated medications, trips to the veterinarians office, or surgery.
Do not use human enemas on cats! Fleet enemas and those containing phosphate, sodium phosphate, or saline, can be fatal.
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All About Cat Constipation
- Constipation in cats is rarely serious, but some cases require veterinary attention.
- Kidney disease, obesity, or poor nutrition could play a role in constipation.
- Most cases of cat constipation are mild and can be managed with outpatient care.
- In more severe cases, surgery or hospitalization may be required.
- Plenty of water, a healthy weight, and a high-quality diet can help prevent cat constipation.
Scooping poop is by no means a pleasant task, but the state of your cats litter box can provide insight into his health. For example, you might notice that there isnt anything to scoop for several days, which could mean that your cat is constipated.
Yes, like people, cats can get constipated. While most cases of cat constipation arent particularly serious, there are times where the condition requires veterinary attention.
Heres everything you need to know at cat constipation, including causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
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