8 Ways to Help Your Constipated Cat at Home


Like humans, cats can experience constipation. If the condition is mild, you can help your cat with simple home remedies. However, if the problem becomes severe, it may require medical intervention.

1. Signs of Constipation in Cats

Constipated cats have infrequent bowel movements or have difficulty defecating. Most cats defecate about once every 24-36 hours, depending on their diet. If your cat has infrequent bowel movements and struggles to eliminate, it may be a sign of constipation. If it has been more than 48-72 hours without a bowel movement, contact a veterinarian.

2. Causes of Cat Constipation

  • Inadequate water intake: Cats that eat dry food are more prone to constipation as dry food contains only about 10% moisture, and cats are not fond of drinking water.
  • Impaired bowel movement: If the bowel does not move contents normally, it can result in dry and hard stools. This can be caused by underlying issues such as stress and anxiety, gastrointestinal inflammation, allergies, neurological problems, or even certain types of cancer.
  • Metabolic disorders: Metabolic conditions like low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism) or low levels of potassium or calcium in the blood can affect the ability of the colon to contract, leading to constipation.
  • Chronic diseases: Chronic conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can lead to constipation in cats. An anal fissure or trauma can also cause pain during defecation and result in constipation.
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3. Diagnosing Cat Constipation

Since constipation can have various causes, your veterinarian will ask about your cat’s lifestyle. They may also perform tests, especially if constipation is persistent or severe.

  • Blood and urine tests to rule out urinary tract infections.
  • Abdominal palpation to check for distension of the colon.
  • X-rays to determine the extent of colon dilation and identify any blockages.
  • Ultrasound imaging to exclude the presence of obstructive masses.
  • Endoscopy to visualize the interior of the colon and obtain biopsies if necessary.

4. Treating Cat Constipation at Home

If your cat is constipated, there are several things you can do at home to help alleviate the condition.

a. Increase Water Consumption

Since dehydration contributes to constipation, make sure your cat drinks an adequate amount of water. The best way to increase water intake is by feeding wet food as it provides more moisture. This significantly increases water intake and reduces the risk of constipation. Alternatively, you can try the following tips to encourage water consumption.

b. Try a New Diet

Consider feeding your cat a diet with a high moisture content to alleviate constipation. For mild cases, a high-fiber diet or adding fiber supplements to their meals can soften the stools and make defecation easier.

For severe constipation, a bland diet consisting of boiled chicken and plain rice, along with a stool softener, can be more effective than a high-fiber diet. This restricted diet reduces the intake of fiber-rich foods like bread, fruits, and grains.

c. Maintain Ideal Weight

Obesity can lead to inflammation in the intestines, slowing down bowel movements. Excess water can be absorbed from the stools, resulting in constipation. If your cat is overweight, consider implementing a weight loss plan. You can find tips on how to help your cat lose weight through diet and exercise.

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d. Increase Exercise

Regular exercise can promote normal bowel movement, aiding in the treatment and prevention of constipation. Encourage your cat to be more active by providing toys, window perches, and spending quality playtime with them. Exercise also improves overall health and reduces anxiety in cats.

e. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Cats can easily become stressed when their routines are disrupted. Obvious causes may include introducing a new pet or moving to a new home. Less apparent causes may include changes in your schedule, construction noise nearby, or a new dog barking in the neighborhood. Sometimes, cats simply need time to adjust to changes. However, you can help reduce stress and anxiety by using calming pheromones that soothe your cat.

f. Provide Additional Litter Boxes

Your cat may have specific preferences when it comes to its litter box. If it dislikes the location or type of litter or litter box, it may avoid using it, leading to withholding of stools and potential constipation. To prevent this, have at least one litter box per floor in your home. Experiment with different litter boxes and types of litter to find the ones your cat prefers.

g. Add Fiber or Probiotics

  • Fiber supplements provide beneficial bacteria and promote normal bowel movement. They can also help retain more water in the intestines, aiding in the treatment and prevention of constipation. Since different cats respond differently to fiber supplements, consult your veterinarian to determine the most effective type for your cat.
  • If your cat cannot eat pumpkin, you can try using other fiber sources or probiotics. Probiotics are “good bacteria” that support a healthy gut. A healthy gut ensures normal bowel movement, soft stools, and prevents constipation.
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h. Use Medications Sparingly

There are over-the-counter medications that can alleviate the symptoms of constipation in cats, but always consult a veterinarian before giving your cat any supplements or laxatives. Some laxatives for humans are highly toxic to cats.

5. When to Seek Veterinary Treatment

If your cat’s constipation persists and does not improve with home remedies, it’s time to seek veterinary treatment. Chronic constipation can indicate underlying health issues and should be addressed promptly to prevent long-term damage to the colon.

  • Immediate relief measures, such as water intake and/or constipation medications, can be administered by a veterinarian. It is not recommended to attempt these at home, as some laxatives intended for humans can be highly toxic to cats.
  • Veterinarians can also prescribe medications or suggest non-prescription solutions to help manage your cat’s constipation symptoms. Importantly, they can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment rather than solely focusing on symptom relief.
  • In severe cases, your veterinarian may need to manually remove impacted feces from your cat’s colon under anesthesia.

In conclusion, constipation in cats is a common issue, especially in overweight and sedentary cats. While mild cases can often be successfully treated with medical interventions and dietary changes, some cats, especially those with severe cases, may require surgery. If your cat is constipated, promptly consult your veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment options.

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