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How To Help A Cat With Constipation

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Constipation in cats is the abnormal accumulation of fecal matter in their colon, leading to difficult bowel movements.
  • Older and overweight cats with chronic kidney disease or a history of constipation are at increased risk.
  • Common causes of constipation in cats include ingesting large amounts of fur, dehydration, stress or anxiety, lack of fiber in the diet, kidney issues, a sedentary lifestyle, and diseases such as feline megacolon and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Symptoms of constipation in cats include infrequent, dry, and hard stools, straining in the litter box, avoiding the litter box, and not being able to poop at all.
  • Home remedies for cat constipation include gradually changing to a high-fiber diet, keeping the cat hydrated, increasing activity and exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, adding litter boxes, minimizing stress and anxiety, and using probiotics and fiber.
  • Natural laxatives for cats include pumpkin, fiber-rich food, ginger, aloe vera juice, licorice, and canned food.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Licensed veterinarian and animal behaviorist with over three years of experience and a Ph.D. in Poultry Science.
Published on
Tuesday 21 November 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
How To Help A Cat With Constipation
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Being able to relate to how uncomfortable constipation can be, it’s not hard to imagine what your cat would feel like if they had the same issue. Like humans, cat constipation can also be an occasional annoyance for your feline, but above all, it can also indicate a greater health issue.

Now, as a cat owner, you are probably wondering about the best way how to help a constipated cat deal with discomfort and restlessness. To help, continue reading below to learn the recommended methods to help cats with constipation!

What To Do When a Cat Is Constipated

While a relatively common medical term, you might still need clarification about what constipation means. For starters, constipation is the abnormal accumulation of fecal matter in a cat’s colon. The result is typically a tricky bowel movement.

According to a study about the risk factors and the treatment result predictors in felines that presents to ER for constipation, researchers found that older and overweight cats with chronic kidney disease or a history of constipation are at increased risk of the condition. Though that is the case, most cats can still develop it. 

If your cat suffers from constipation, your best action is to take them to the vet. That way, your cat can undergo the necessary tests and determine the cause of the off-balance bowel movements (or lack thereof). Though a vet visit is the best option, only some can afford it or have the time to do it.

Now, what to do when a cat is constipated if that were the case? Fortunately, there are now several home remedies that work wonders on cat constipation! However, if you’re set on offering assistance instead of rushing the cat to the vet, ensure that you keep a detailed overview of the treatment plan to keep track of the progress.

For now, what home remedies can help your cat recover from constipation? It mainly depends on the issue, but here are a few suggestions:

Slowly Change the Diet

Changing your cat’s eating routine to a high-fiber diet is a necessary long-term management of constipation in cats. Ideally, it is highly recommended to include more food high in soluble fiber, which can help increase water in their stool.

Make sure that you rely on something other than commercial cat food. Fiber is an essential nutrient for cats that is uncommon in cat foods. You should not give your feline certain vegetables like chives, garlic, and onion. Also, ensure that they stay away from raisins and grapes.

Transitioning to a new diet is a slow process, so ensure you have the patience to go through it. Typically, the change takes about 8-12 weeks to set.

Keep Your Cat Hydrated

Dehydration is currently one of the leading causes of cat constipation. Ensure that they consume more water so they remain adequately hydrated.

As you have probably seen in a lot of media, cats are not fond of water, which typically affects their daily water consumption. As cat owners, you must think creatively to keep them hydrated.

If you have the budget, you may invest in a water fountain for your feline. The sound and smell of the water should be enough to entice the cat to drink. Another effective way to boost their water intake is by feeding them wet cat food.  

Increase Activity and Exercises

You must know that physically active cats are less likely to develop constipation as the extra activity helps their intestines move normally. Taking your cat for a walk is out of the question, so you will need other methods to stimulate them physically and mentally.

Do your best to encourage your pet to be more active. Boost the cat’s daily activity and tempt it to play and pounce by getting it interactive toys, window seats, and catnips.

Maintain Healthy Weight

The enormous benefit of making them exercise is that it keeps them from becoming obese. Keeping your cat at average weight can help provide enrichment and reduce their stress and anxiety. Obesity can lead to inflammation, which can further slow down the intestines.

In severe and graver cases, too much fat in the cat’s belly hugely affects the movement of their stools. If you deem that your cat’s weight is causing them any medical issues, double your efforts in making them lose weight.

Add Litter Boxes

Felines are known to be fickle creatures that would turn up their noses at the thought of using a not-pristine litter box. It would always be a good idea to keep the litter box clean as much as possible. If you don’t have time for that, add more litter boxes to your home.

If you do purchase more litter boxes, ensure that you strategically plan where you’ll put them. Please place them in an area they are familiar with.

Minimize Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety and stress are also leading causes of constipation in cats. Note that cats are creatures of routine and habit. Once something disrupts or changes their daily routine, the cat will quickly become stressed.

That change can be something like moving to a new place and family. It could also be more subtle, like a new dog barking down the street or nearby construction noises.

Try Probiotics and Fiber

Another way to help cat constipation is by giving your feline probiotics and fiber.

Probiotics are known as the ‘good bacteria’ that aids in supporting healthy intestines. Healthy intestines are essential to move the stool along and keep it soft. On the other hand, fiber feeds good bacteria and aids in promoting normal intestine movement.

Consult With Your Vet

Now, the best way to help your cat with constipation is to talk and reach out to your vet. You may ask them to prescribe you appropriate over-the-counter laxatives that can help treat the symptoms of constipation. Also, you may ask them about the proper treatments and remedies you can safely perform at home.

Symptoms of Constipation in Cats 

For a cat owner, it is necessary to learn how to tell if a cat is constipated. Knowing the symptoms can help you spot the issue immediately so you can do something about it early on.

Unfortunately, people tend to assume that the signs and symptoms of cat constipation are apparent — that is not always the case. Of course, not finding anything to scoop or clean on their litter box is a huge telltale sign that something is wrong with your cat, but there are more signs associated with constipation that can clue you in.

Constipation is defined or characterized primarily by infrequent stools that are hard to pass. Note that most cats will poop every 24-36 hours.

If you find that your feline is pooping less frequently than it should and are having some difficulty, it could mean they are constipated. You must contact the vet immediately if it has been around 48-72 hours of no bowel movement.

Other than infrequent stools, the main constipated cat symptoms are:

  • Dry and hard stools
  • Crying or straining in the litter box
  • Entering and exiting their litter box several times when needing to go
  • Avoiding the litter box
  • Not being able to poop at all

You should contact the vet if you notice any clear signs of discomfort as your cat uses their litter box since this indicates urinary tract issues.

Also, note that constipation in cats can be a symptom of other medical issues, so you may also notice the signs of an underlying cause. These are:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight Loss
  • Muscle Loss
  • Drinking less or more water
  • Peeing more
  • Walking stiffly
  • Hiding
  • Experiencing difficulty in jumping

What Causes Constipation in Cats?

Constipation is a medical condition commonly found in mature and middle-aged cats — although it may also occur at any age. This health issue can happen if the cat’s intestines are not moving normally, keeping its stool soft and moist.

Tracking down the leading cause of the medical problem can help you figure out what to do for cat constipation. Knowing the direct cause can help you prevent it from happening again.

If you have an indoor cat, they could develop constipation by ingesting large amounts of their fur and hair, as seen with hairballs. It is more likely to occur for specific cat breeds than others. Aside from hair ingestion, dehydration is another leading cause of constipation for cat constipation.

Other potential reasons for developing this condition include:

  • Stress or Anxiety
  • Not enough fiber in their diet
  • Kidney issues
  • Pain or other issues related to the spine
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Hernia
  • Nerve disorder
  • A tumor near the pelvic region
  • Side effects from some medication
  • Feline Megacolon (colon enlarges enough that the cat’s muscles no longer squeeze and the hard, dry stool builds up inside)
  • Cancer
  • Perianal Disease
  • Allergies
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Impacted or Ruptured Anal Sacs
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism

Cats accustomed to eating dry food are also predisposed to dehydration and constipation. It is best to change their diet to avoid them getting constipation.

Your cats must visit the vet if they’re experiencing constipation. Getting a vet’s opinion about what’s going on sooner than later is always better, so you can help prevent it from worsening.

How Do Vets Treat Constipation

Knowing the symptoms and causes, it’s also necessary to understand how to treat cat constipation. While there are several effective ways to treat cat constipation at home, bringing them to the vet will remain the best treatment option for your feline friend.

Vet treatment for constipated cats mainly depends on the severity and cause of the condition. Remember, left untreated, constipation can lead to Megacolon, a form of constipation that is not entirely responsive to most medical treatments and can be fatal.

As to what to do for a constipated cat, the first step is to bring them to the vet to know the treatment options available for your feline. It would be best to address their constipation immediately to reduce the risk of your cat gaining permanent damage due to prolonged distension of its colon.

Effective treatment for constipation involves:

  • Determining and correcting the underlying disorder (if possible)
  • Removing the impacted feces from the cat
  • Preventing recurrences

The inability to pass feces and urine, or experiencing pain when passing them, is considered a severe veterinary emergency. The vet will likely run the applicable diagnostic tests, provide fluids or enemas for relief, and prescribe medications.

It can’t be stressed enough how dangerous attempting to administer an enema at home is. It requires veterinary expertise for the cat’s safety. Know that some types of enemas designed for humans are toxic for cats.

Also, you may be tempted to intervene and offer some relief to your cat before taking them to the vet. You must avoid giving your cat any human medication or laxatives. Be mindful that the toxicity risk is real and can make their condition much worse.

How To Help A Cat With Constipation: FAQs 

Questions like how to help a kitten poop or what can you give a cat for constipation are just the standard inquiries that cat owners have about the condition. Here are a few more frequently asked questions about cat constipation that might help you!  

What is the fastest way to relieve constipation in a cat?

One of the fastest ways to relieve and treat constipation is by following some effective home remedies for your cat. Change their diet to fiber-rich foods, provide them with probiotics, and minimize their stress and anxiety. Also, consult your vet for some over-the-counter laxatives.

How do you stimulate a cat to poop?

If you’re wondering about more ways how to make a constipated kitten poop, stimulating them using a massage might be one of your best options. Waste material must be soft for it to pass through the colon, and stimulation through abdominal massage might help with that. However, note that this can irritate your cat and even cause further discomfort.

As for kittens, you stimulate them by using a warm, wet towel. Gently rub it around the kitty’s anal region to help stimulate its bowels.

How long can cats go without pooping?

An ordinarily healthy cat should at least poop once a day. Unless they underwent surgery or are still recovering from diarrhea, your cat should go more than 48 hours without pooping.

What is the best natural laxative for cats?

Several home remedies can serve as natural laxatives for your cat experiencing constipation. To help your feline ease the elimination woes, you may introduce these foods into their diet — pumpkin, fiber-rich food, ginger, aloe vera juice, licorice, and canned food.

Can I give my cat olive oil for constipation?

If you’re wondering what you can give a cat for constipation, olive oil is a safe option! Olive oil contains some laxative properties, which makes it suitable for felines suffering from mild to moderate constipation or irate bowel syndrome. Since constipated cats typically have a dry and hard stool, the olive oil can soften it and help the waste pass through.

If your cat is not pooping as frequently and normally as it should, that’s a substantial glaring sign that it may have constipation. As a cat owner, it helps to know what to do when the cat is constipated. Fortunately, you can try a few home remedies to help alleviate their symptoms — such as keeping an eye on their water consumption, introducing more exercise, and changing their diet.

If the remedies are not working or you do not see any improvement, bring them to the vet for further examination and professional treatment.

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