Constipation in cats is fairly common. They scratch in the litter box and then strain. Disappointed, they scratch the still empty litter box and their eyes narrow in effort as they try again. Where we have certain measures to make sure everything is moving in the right direction, a cat’s diet is general more limited. The answer to constipation is simple: laxatives.
However, many of the items that we use as laxatives might not be suitable for cats. In addition, our feline friends tend to be finicky eaters, so good luck convincing them to drink some prune juice.
Constipation occurs when there are infrequent or difficult bowel movements. It is most common in elderly cats, but can occur in any cat. In some cases constipation can be a symptom of a more severe condition, which is why it is always important to consult with a veterinarian.
What can I give my cat for constipation? Answer: Fiber and Fluids
The main culprits that cause constipation are a diet that does not contain enough water and/or fiber and a lack of sufficient exercise. Particularly in long haired cats the hair in the stool is the source of constipation. This will be evident when there is a large amount of hair in the stools.
Other causes can be neurological, the ingestion of foreign objects, or an obstruction in the intestines or colon. Although some cases of constipation are simple to treat with home remedies, the last few causes mentioned should be treated by a veterinarian.
Increase Fiber in Their Diet
The easiest way to ensure proper stool movement is by increasing the fiber in your cat’s diet. Canned pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and felines seem to enjoy eating it, making it an ideal snack to aid the constipated cat. There are also high fiber commercial cat foods available which you could try feeding your cat. The foods that are designed for senior cats generally contain more fiber. If you like you can add a tablespoon of olive or flaxseed oil to make the food less dry. Remember to change diets smoothly as you do not want to upset your pets stomach any more than needed.
Increase Fluids in Their Diet
Dehydration is one of the primary causes of constipation among cats. Naturally, there should always be enough fresh and clean water available for your cat to drink at any time. Unfortunately, some cats just are not big drinkers. In any case, switching from dry food to wet food will immediately increase your cat’s fluid intake which could help to relieve its condition.
In cases where there is clearly severe blockage due to constipation it might be necessary for professional procedures to relieve your constipated cat. In some cases an enema may be used to treat constipation, but make sure the procedure is done by a professional because some over the counter enemas contain ingredients that are toxic to cats. In addition, cats will never forgive you if you perform an enema on them. Actually, they may forgive you, but it’s best not to risk it. Your veterinarian can indicate a laxative and an appropriate dose should it be necessary. Finally, surgery might be needed to remove any obstructions from the bowels of your feline friend.
Prevention is the Best Prescription
Prevention is always the best medication. A high-moisture diet is key to preventing constipation, so avoid dry food whenever possible. In the same vein, cats prefer to drink running water to water from a bowl so it might be a good idea to invest in a cat fountain. These are basically little waterfalls for cats, but they are made of healthier materials than your average plastic ‘rock’ fountain. If a cat suffers from constipation due to hairballs, about 1/3 teaspoon of Vaseline may help to eliminate the hair. However, Vaseline interferes with the absorption of nutrients so should be used sparingly.
Regular brushing can also help to prevent hairball-related constipation. Regular exercise helps bowel movement, so play with your cat, chase it around the house. Don’t overdo it, though. It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Keep the kitty litter clean to prevent your cat from holding it in out of sheer disgust. Holding it in can eventually cause constipation-related problems.
Constipation is a common ailment, but it is also treatable with home remedies, usually involving a slight change in diet. Remember that constipation can be a symptom of a larger illness, so it is always wise to contact your veterinarian for advice on dealing with the condition.