Cat Constipation

Constipation is the infrequent passage of feces. Cat constipation is usually characterized by small, hard, dry lumps of feces that look like pebbles and are often difficult and painful to pass (sorry, lovely subject!)

Signs, Causes, Treatment And Prevention

picture of lovely old cat sitting outside

1) Signs

  • Difficulty passing feces
  • Frequent attempts to pass feces - straining, squatting, digging
  • Dry, hard feces, may be a few flecks of blood present
  • Loss of appetite, lethargy
  • Cat vomiting

You may be able to feel the constipation in Kitty's tummy as a hard, sausage shaped mass in line with his backbone.

Important note:
If your cat is straining, squatting and digging, it could be because of cat constipation. However, it could also be due to cat urinary tract infection or cat bladder stones. If you're not sure what's causing your cat to strain, you should take him to the vet as soon as you can. A urine infection can be very painful, and bladder stones can be fatal if they prevent Kitty from peeing.

2) Causes

photo of big ginger cat outside eating

  • Diet. Foods that lack fiber can cause constipation. These include very "meaty" diets and poor quality dry food.
  • Age. As cats age, their bowel muscle weakens, and their reduced activity also slows the passage of feces. Click this link for more advice on elderly cat health problems.
  • Cat hairballs. If hair gets caught up in large amounts in the feces, this will slow its passage.
  • Lack of exercise. Overweight, inactive kitties are more at risk of constipation than healthy weight, active ones. Inactivity slows the bowel down.
  • Injury. Injuries to the pelvis, back, spine or tail may make the passage of feces more painful and / or more difficult.

3) Treatment

Successful treatment will soften the feces already there and lubricate its passage. There are home treatments you can try. However, as all cats are different, with different histories and needs, I'm not going to recommend any specific ones here. I would recommend calling your veterinary practice and seeking their advice.

4) Prevention

You can help prevent cat constipation by:

  • Ensuring Kitty is getting a well-balanced diet with enough fiber
  • Grooming Kitty regularly, and giving regular flea prevention treatment to prevent cat hairballs forming
  • Ensuring he has a constant supply of fresh water to drink
  • Encouraging him to exercise, and if necessary, putting him on a weight-reducing diet

For advice on health insurance for your cat, click here.

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