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One of the most common problems with a cat’s digestive tract is constipation. Most cats have a bowel movement at least every 1-2 days but this may vary between cats depending on how much and what kind of food they eat. Here’s a rundown of the most probable causes for cat constipation, what preventative measures pet parents can take to reduce constipation, and when to see a veterinarian.
There could be many reasons as to why a cat is showing signs of constipation. They can range from not getting enough water to more serious, underlying medical conditions. The most common causes of cat constipation include:
Abnormal colon shape
Inflammation of the colon
Neurological disorders (yes, neurological disorders can impact a cat's digestive health)
Litter box avoidance (behavioral or environmental issues related to the litter box that reduce their willingness to use it)
Cat constipation is usually associated with one or a few of the following symptoms:
Loss of appetite
Dry, hard stool
Lack of grooming
Frequent trips to the litter box without defecating
Lethargy (which may look like they're not responding to their pet parents as they normally would)
If pet parents notice that their cat is still producing some feces daily, and if it is not a normal cat poop consistency, there may be preventive measures they can take to avoid more serious constipation. Here are a few things to try:
Keep clean and fresh water out to ensure that the cat is drinking enough.
Brush regularly. For long-haired breeds or cats prone to hair balls, brushing regularly can help keep excess hair from the digestive tract.
Change the cat’s diet. Try feeding a canned diet and/or adding fiber to the diet. Fiber can help waste move through the digestive system easily and quickly.
Try adding pumpkin or natural bran cereal to the cats food. Fiber supplements or probiotics can aid digestive health and regularity in the cat's bowel movements as well.
Some cats may need to try a laxative such as Miralax or Lactulose, to stay “regular.” Pet parents should chat with a veterinarian prior to starting a cat laxative.
Use a vet-recommended cat probiotics for digestive health
Pet parents should definitely take their cat to a full-service veterinarian or urgent care if they notice any of the following:
It has been more than 48 hours since the cat has defecated
The cat has not eaten or had water for more than 48 hours
They see blood in the cat’s stool
The cat stops grooming
Any signs of abdominal discomfort
Cat constipation can also be an indication of a different, potentially serious, underlying problem. Pet parents may need to have their cat examined by an online veterinarian or in-person in case the kitty needs more intensive care such as enemas, surgery, or IV fluids.
Fuzzy members can chat with online veterinary support 24/7 or have an immediate video consult if they have concerns about their cats bowel movements or cat constipation. Because cat health issues may escalate very quickly, reach out at the first sign or inkling of an issue. Fuzzy vets can assist pet parents in conducting a thorough physical examination and discussing the cat’s symptoms. If needed, they can recommend home care options or in-person veterinary evaluation to decide tests, prescription medications, or if surgery may be needed.