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Cat Constipation: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

5 min read

Although cat constipation is a fairly common problem, the causes and symptoms can be wildly different from one cat to the next. Here’s what you need to know to help treat it and prevent further constipation. 

If you suspect your cat is constipated, you’re probably thinking: “What medicine can I give to my ailing cat?” In this article, we examine some early symptoms of cat constipation and the veterinary treatment needed to nurse your cat back to their usual happy self. 


Cat constipation symptoms 

A cat who hasn’t produced stools for more than 24 hours is likely to be suffering from cat constipation. Sometimes, owners might find it difficult to keep track of their cat’s bathroom routine since some cats prefer to conduct their business outdoors. These are some of the other symptoms of cat constipation you may want to keep an eye on: 

  • Tense abdomen 
  • Hard, dry, small stools 
  • Straining which can be mistaken by owners as difficulty urinating sometimes 
  • Lack of appetite (occasionally) 
  • Hunched posture 
  • Causes of cat constipation 

Tracking down the cause of constipation is just as important as recognizing the symptoms. While dehydration is the most common cause for cat constipation, there are many other potential reasons for this condition: 

  • Dehydration, which may be as a result of kidney disease, especially in older cats 
  • Not enough or too much fiber in their diet 
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • Hair ingestion 
  • Litter tray avoidance (when the litter needs to be changed or cleaned) 
  • Hernia 
  • Tumors near the pelvic region 
  • Side effects of some medications 
  • Nerve disorder 
  • Eating a foreign body which causes an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract 
  • Cat and a litter tray 

If you’re not sure what has caused it or if your cat gets constipated regularly, speak to your vet to establish the underlying cause.  


Cat constipation remedies 

Mild cat constipation can be resolved at home, but don’t hesitate to contact the vet if you’re struggling to get your cat back to their normal toilet routine. These are some of the remedies you can try while waiting for your vet appointment:

Cat constipation symptoms can be alleviated if you make sure they’re keeping hydrated throughout the day. Have water bowls within reach in different areas of the house to remind your cat to drink more. It’s a good idea to choose in wide water bowls as cats usually prefer their whiskers not to touch the sides. They also tend to prefer ceramic or metal bowls. Make sure that the water bowls are separate from any food or litter tray areas. 

If your cats prefer to drink running water, leaving the tap dripping with the plug out. Some cats also like water fountains but these should be cleaned regularly to ensure your cat keeps using them. It can be difficult to get cats to drink more water. Feeding a wet diet is one of the easiest ways to increase your cat’s water intake. 

Introducing more activity to your cat’s daily routine will get their entire body moving, including their intestines. Try different games or find toys to keep them on their toes. Encourage your cat to express their playful side more often and they’ll be reaping plenty of health benefits.

Cat constipation can be managed by paying attention to the level of fiber in their food. If you’re not sure about the appropriate amount of fiber your cat needs in their diet, check with your vet as feeding too much or too little fiber can make your cat’s constipation worse. 

Veterinary treatment for cat constipation 

The vet will perform a physical examination to determine the severity of your cat’s constipation. The vet will then decide on the best course of action. For mild cases, a dietary adjustment might be all that is needed for the cat to get back to its regular toilet habits. In other cases, an enema can be recommended or medications such as laxatives, stool softeners or probiotics may be prescribed. 

It’s important to avoid administering any human medications or laxatives to your cat. Be mindful that the risk of injury and even toxicity is real and it can make a condition that’s easily treated into a much bigger problem. You should always talk to your vet before administering any remedy to your cat. 

Cat constipation can be managed by appropriate treatment in most cases. Keeping an eye on your cat’s daily water consumption, keeping bowls and litter trays clean, with fresh water given every day should form the basis of your care. Introducing more exercise and aiming for a balanced diet will also help encourage regular bowel movements. 

Explore special cat diets if your cat has different needs from the rest of the cat out there and discover how to feed your cat a balanced diet for a long, healthy, happy and active life.