We all know that cats are the masters of grace and poise, but even the most regal felines can encounter an uncomfortable predicament – constipation. Watching your feline friend struggle with constipation can be distressing, but the good news is that there are home remedies that can help your whiskered friend find relief and get back to their playful and purring self!
Cat constipation can be a real "uh-oh," creating a worrisome situation for pet owners and their feline friends. But before you hit the panic button, remember that there's a treasure trove of natural, fuss-free, and budget-friendly remedies to help get those kitty bowels moving smoothly again. If you are wondering, is my cat constipated? How can I help my constipated cat? You are in the right place. Below, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know.
What Is Cat Constipation
Cat constipation is a common gastrointestinal issue with infrequent and difficult bowel movements. It occurs when dry feces accumulate in the colon and rectum, making them hard and challenging to pass. Cats with constipation often strain in the litter box and may produce small, dry stools or none at all. Several factors contribute to this condition, including dehydration, dietary issues, lack of exercise, or underlying medical problems like megacolon or pelvic injuries. Recognizing the signs of cat constipation, such as discomfort and decreased appetite, is crucial, as prompt intervention with proper hydration, dietary adjustments, and, in severe cases, veterinary care can provide relief.
What Are Signs of Cat Constipation
When cats experience constipation, it can lead to discomfort and potentially escalate into a serious issue if not addressed promptly. Cat owners must recognize the symptoms of constipation and be prepared to seek veterinary assistance when necessary. Several common indicators of constipation in felines encompass:
Infrequent or Strained Bowel Movements: If your cat is experiencing infrequent or strained bowel movements, such as struggling to defecate or not having a bowel movement for more than 48 hours, this could indicate constipation.
Dry, Hard Stools: Healthy cat poop should be dark brown and well-formed
Vocalization and Discomfort
Lethargic and less active than usual
If you suspect that your cat is constipated, it's essential to contact your veterinarian promptly. Prolonged constipation can progress to more severe conditions, such as megacolon, in which the colon undergoes stretching and loses its capacity to function effectively.
Ways to Help Your Constipated Cat
Home remedies for cat constipation can be helpful in mild cases, but it's essential to consult your veterinarian before trying any home treatments, especially if your cat's constipation is severe or chronic. Here are some home remedies that may provide relief for constipated cats:
Pumpkin is often recommended as a safe and effective dietary remedy for constipated cats. This substance is abundant in soluble fiber, which can increase stool volume and encourage regular bowel movements. The fiber in pumpkin can help soften hard feces and ease their passage through the digestive tract.
To incorporate pumpkin into your cat's diet, provide a small quantity of plain, canned pumpkin (avoid pumpkin pie filling) as a supplement alongside your cat's regular food. Typically, a teaspoon to a tablespoon is sufficient. However, always consult your veterinarian first to ensure that the pumpkin is an appropriate solution for your cat's constipation and to determine the correct dosage for your specific situation.
Oatmeal can be used cautiously to help alleviate mild constipation in cats. It's a good source of soluble fiber, which can add bulk to the stool and potentially soften it, making it easier for cats to pass. Nevertheless, consulting with a veterinarian before adding oatmeal to your cat's diet is crucial.
Ensure the oatmeal is plain and cooked without added sugars, spices, or dairy. Furthermore, provide only a small quantity as an occasional treat and closely watch your cat for any adverse reactions. Individual cat tolerances to dietary changes can vary, so professional guidance is vital to ensure your cat's well-being.
Olive oil can be a natural and gentle remedy to alleviate constipation in cats. Rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil can lubricate the digestive tract, making it easier for hardened stool to pass.
A recommended dosage typically ranges from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, mixed with the cat's food daily. Nonetheless, it is vital to seek advice from a veterinarian, especially in severe or chronic constipation cases. Although olive oil is generally safe, individual cat sensitivities may differ.
Fiber Rich Foods
Fiber-rich foods like sweet potato, carrots, apple, and pumpkin can be beneficial for constipated cats when they are in moderation. These foods provide soluble fiber, which adds bulk to the stool and can help soften it, making it easier for cats to pass.
Moreover, they can help in promoting and sustaining regular bowel movements. When offering these foods, preparing them without added sugars, spices, or seasonings is essential. Cats should only ingest them in limited quantities, as an excessive intake of fiber can potentially result in gastrointestinal discomfort.
One of the common reasons why cats suffer from constipation is dehydration. Cats often have a low thirst drive, which can lead to dehydration and exacerbate constipation. Ensure that your cat has easy access to clean water at all times. Some cats prefer running water from a cat water fountain to encourage drinking. Monitoring their water intake is crucial to maintaining proper hydration.
If you cannot get your cat to drink more water, consider giving your cat fluids through chicken broth. Feeding a constipated cat chicken broth can offer temporary relief but should not be considered a standalone solution. The warm, liquid broth can help soften the stool and potentially ease the passage of feces, making it less uncomfortable for the cat.
Canned food is an excellent choice for constipated cats because of its high moisture content. The additional hydration from wet food can soften the stool and make it easier to pass. Gradually transition your cat to a balanced wet diet if they are on dry kibble.
Laxatives or Stool Softeners
Over-the-counter laxatives should be administered under veterinary guidance to prevent adverse effects. Lactulose, a prescription medication, is a common choice for cats with chronic constipation. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate dosage based on your cat's condition without worsening any underlying diseases (chronic kidney disease, etc).
Probiotics can play a beneficial role in managing constipation in cats. These supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can help regulate the gut flora, improve digestion, and maintain a healthy balance in the intestinal tract. Probiotics may indirectly alleviate constipation by enhancing the cat's overall digestive function.
Probiotics are generally considered safe, but individual cat responses can vary, so professional guidance ensures the best approach to addressing constipation while maintaining your cat's overall well-being.
Cat Grass/ Wheat Grass
Cat grass or wheatgrass is a popular natural remedy for constipated cats. These grasses are rich in dietary fiber, aiding digestion and promoting regular bowel movements. When cats ingest these grasses, the fiber adds bulk to the stool, potentially softening it and easing its passage.
Cat grass can also serve as an excellent source of enrichment and entertainment for indoor cats, encouraging physical activity and mental stimulation. However, offering cat grass in moderation is important, as excessive consumption can lead to vomiting.
Regular physical activity can help stimulate your cat's digestive system. Participate in interactive play with toys that promote physical activity. Even simple activities like chasing a feather on a string or playing with a laser pointer can help keep your cat active and promote bowel regularity.
Frequent grooming and brushing can minimize hair ingestion, reducing the likelihood of hairballs that can lead to constipation. Additionally, it helps maintain your cat's coat health and can be a bonding experience for both of you. While most cats groom themselves well, lending a helping hand can help curb hairballs and lessen the chance of a constipated cat. Elderly cats and long-haired cat breeds especially can use the additional grooming help.
If your cat tolerates it, gentle abdominal massage can be beneficial. Use a circular motion and apply light pressure to stimulate the digestive tract. Pay attention to your cat's response, and stop if they seem uncomfortable. Here's a brief guide on how to do it:
Find a Quiet Area: Choose a quiet, calm space where your cat feels safe and relaxed.
Get Your Cat's Consent: Approach your cat gently and let them sniff your hand to ensure they're comfortable.
Begin with Circular Motions: Using your fingertips, start massaging your cat's abdomen in gentle, circular motions. Always follow the direction of the colon, moving from the rib cage towards the hind legs.
Gradual Pressure: Increase light pressure slowly if your cat seems comfortable. Be attentive to your cat's responses; stop immediately if they resist or become agitated.
Clean Litter Box
Cats, especially those with constipation, can be quite finicky about their litter boxes. Ensure the litter box is kept clean and positioned in a quiet, private spot. A stressful or dirty litter box can discourage your cat from using it, leading to constipation. If you have multiple cats in your home, make sure to provide extra litter boxes. Cats who are constipated can be sensitive to sharing their litter box with others.
Reducing stress is crucial in managing constipation in cats, as stress can exacerbate the condition. Stress can lead to changes in a cat's behavior, including irregular eating and drinking habits, contributing to constipation.
To reduce stress, establish a tranquil and consistent environment for your cat, provide a quiet, safe space, maintain a consistent routine, and offer plenty of mental and physical stimulation through play and affection.
Additionally, consider using feline pheromone diffusers or supplements recommended by your veterinarian to promote relaxation. Reducing stress and a proper diet and hydration can significantly prevent and manage constipation in cats.