Home treatment for cat constipation

cat constipated - pictures of cats
photo by Tjflex2


A page about home treatment for cat constipation. I won’t describe the symptoms of constipation – we know them. Cats can suffer from the same problem. Some of the treatments are based on human treatments.

What happens

When feces are retained in the colon for two or three days they become hard and dry. This makes them painful and a struggle to eliminate (polite word). Normally a cat will poop once or twice a day and perhaps once every 2 days if on a low-residue diet. Most cats aren’t on this sort of diet so the standard once a day should be expected but less doesn’t mean constipation provided the stools are soft and normal.

{note: straining to go may be due to colitis or FUS – Feline Urologic Syndrome. These need to be ticked off in a diagnosis before treating for constipation – colitis is an inflammation of the colon or large intestine}

Home treatment for cat constipation – Some causes of constipation

a low fiber and high in concentrated meat protein diet can cause constipation. This cause lends itself to a home treatment for cat constipation (src: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Dr. Carlson and Dr. Giffin)

a high fiber diet can result in larger stools, which in turn can lead to constipation (src: Your Cat by Dr. Hodgkins). This would seem to clash with the above but may not as both can cause constipation under certain conditions.

hair balls are a common cause of hard stools.

eating products/foods that are impossible to digest such as grass, cellulose, cloth and paper for example can result in compacted feces and constipation.

the cat voluntarily overriding the urge to go to the toilet due to the presence of a number of factors and circumstances namely, strange surroundings (change in environment such as moving home), a refusal to use a dirty litter tray, going into a boarding cattery, a new cat in the house.

Older and less active cats can have reduced bowel movements and weaker abdominal wall muscles.

constipation is sometimes due to a condition called megacolon (this condition can also be caused by constipation). This is the permanent stretching of the colon and rectum. (see a veterinarian about this).

another possible cause is pain because of a fractured hip or pelvis (caused by a road traffic accident, for example). A narrowing of the pelvic canal due to the healing process after an accident can cause constipation.

a narrowing of the rectum due to polyps or small tumors can also produce constipation.

I’m going to add my little contribution and say that inactivity can promote the onset of constipation. In other words it may be a factor which exacerbates the situation.

cats on medication (antibiotics) could suffer from constipation as a side effect of the medication. A laxative (see below) may the answer.

parasite infestations.

not drinking enough water will compound problems.

dehydration that can happen in cats with renal disease can cause constipation.

Home treatment for cat constipation – Signs/Symptoms

If our cat uses a litter we’ll be familiar with our cat’s stools. As I have said previously you can tell quite a lot, as a layperson, about your cat’s health from his or her stools (yes I know it’s a bit gruesome but we have to monitor our cat’s health and this is one good way). If we are close to our cats (emotionally I mean) we can tell if something is wrong and indeed may notice her straining to go and not producing. Constipation is best dealt with early.

A cat with chronic constipation caused by fecal impaction often eliminate a watery almost liquid stool that could be mistaken for the opposite condition, diarrhea, when in fact it will be a liquid stool forced around the impacted stool in the colon.

Our cat won’t be going to the toilet as frequently or regularly. This should be readily apparent if like me you do the litter. She/he may also have a bloated and lethargic appearance and not eat as heartily as usual. She may look a little agitated around or in the litter and/or meow (in discomfort) when she goes.

Home treatment for cat constipation

Removing the conditions under which constipation occurs should ensure long term success. I’m going to initially refer to treating humans for constipation. The classic human treatment is to turn to a high fiber diet. In the UK that can be All Bran cereal and prunes – the classic old man’s breakfast! This and other high fiber foods will usually work, for humans, or at least help a lot and if not it’s down to laxatives, the milder the better initially.

Turning to cats. As a common cause of constipation is dietary (the first item in the list above) a change in diet would be called for as a good starting point for dealing with this condition.

The Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook has these recommendations:

1. There are commercial high fiber cat foods, which are formulated for senior cats (I guess the food will be labeled accordingly). These cat foods contain more fiber and less fat than average commercial cat foods. If these fail to assist try Hill’s Science Diet Feline Light (I think this called “l/d”), which is a dry food or Hill’s Feline “w/d” or “r/d” (this one is expensive as far as I remember and at one time could only be bought at veterinarian surgeries). w/d and r/d is available in wet and dry food. Personally I would prefer the wet food as does Dr. Hodgkins who is the author of Your Cat and a cat food specialist veterinarian.

Dry food places a requirement on the cat to drink more water, which may mean less water intake, which in turn can lead to urinary tract complications. This assessment is made through personal observation and experiences with my own cat companion. www.alternativepethealth.com recommend (more as a preventative measure when feeding dry food) to add a tablespoon of olive oil to the dry food. This may or may not be acceptable to our cat, however.

2. Another form of home treatment for cat constipation recommended by the authors of the above book is to add bulk-producing laxative and fiber supplement such as Metamucil. This product is for people, which shows how similar certain illnesses suffered by cats are to those suffered by people. This product can be effective for mild constipation. Dare I say it I use something similar myself as I take medication that causes constipation. I use Fibre Sure (must be a UK product because of the spelling of Fibre). These laxatives work by absorbing water in the colon and soften the feces and promote defecation. Metamucil is an American product (I think) but available in the UK.

Another product that would fall into the category of home treatment for cat constipation (and not mentioned in The Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook) is Nutrifyba 250g, which is a dietary supplement and which helps maintain normal bowel function.


3. Other forms of laxatives are “stimulant laxatives”. These may not be suitable for repeated, indefinite use. One such product is Katalax. This is designed to help remove hair balls and contains soft paraffin, cod live oil and malt extract. Another is Laxatone. This is bought in a tube and comes in Tuna flavor. This is an American product I believe and may not be available in the UK. Another is shown below:

Home treatment for cat constipation – Addressing the other causes above:

4. Removing “disruptions” in the life of a cat (cats like routines) is another useful form of home treatment for cat constipation. Although new events are sometimes unavoidable they will or should resolve over time whereupon the cat will settle. A mild laxative as referred to above may suffice.

5. Regular brushing/grooming by us, particularly for a long haired cat, is essential really and will help minimize hair balls one cause of constipation.

6. Clearly a well cared for litter tray is a prerequisite to remove any possibility that the cat is voluntarily not going due to inadequate toilet facilities. In addition, as much exercise as possible is always good for health and can aid the digestive tract and bowel movement. I can speak from personal experience……

7. Long term, if we are up to it, perhaps the perfect dietary remedy is to make our own cat food from raw products. Although this must be done to a good standard and with the proper supplements to replicate a wild cat’s prey. I made a post about this here and another here: raw food diet.

8. Plenty of play, human and/or other cat or pet interaction will help keep our cats exercised and important factor in preventing constipation.

9. Other products to consider (type these – one at a time – into Google search to find suppliers). These are herbal and natural remedies and supplements etc.:

–Purrfectly Natural Gourmet is recommended (USA only?)
–PetAlive Natural Moves(available in the UK and USA)–Pet Essences (UK available)
–King Bio Natural Medicine (USA) explore the website
–www.onlynaturalpet.com (USA) explore the website for remedies

Other causes can only be dealt with by a veterinarian, who should be consulted if in any doubt.

Update March 2011: A visitor shared her experience in using mineral oil mixed with we cat food.

From Home treatment for cat constipation to cat health problems


Home treatment for cat constipation – Other sources:

  • www.alternativepethealth.com

Home treatment for cat constipation – Photo: this cat is (or “was”, but I really hope that he is still alive – the photo taken 2 years ago) called Babado. He had a neurological disorder that caused symptoms including constipation. He is a survivor. He is photographed in a cat shelter. He is a character. I like this cat a lot. I want to give him a kiss.

 


Comments

Home treatment for cat constipation — 43 Comments

  1. For the last couple of days we have noticed our indoor cat acting odd, tonight though my husband went to feed her and her tummy is swollen, and she can hardly walk, but she seems fine , like her eyes don’t look hazey or anything, we can not take her in till the ,middle of next week, so we are trying the Laxatone, I am hoping and praying she will be alright. Our Hightops is approx 10 or 11 yrs old. We are both so worried. She is also spayed.

  2. I will presume that Hightops has shown signs of constipation (a) infrequent passage of small and hard stool and (b) straining to pass feces.

    However, straining can occur with colitis (inflammation of colon) and urinary tract disease FLUTD.

    It is wise to check that your cat is not suffering from these conditions before treating for constipation. UTIs are commonplace. UTIs can be serious. Is Hightops urinating OK? You should be able to tell quite easily for an indoor cat because the litter will clearly indicate this. I presume you have a handle on all this.

    Apparently Laxatone is particularly good for hairballs. However the books say that if there is an obstruction in the colon Laxatone should not be used. It might be wise to reconsider using it as the distended abdomen may indicate a blockage..

    “Bulk laxatives” are useful. I may have mentioned these in the article. They can be used indefinitely while Laxatone should not as it can reduce bowel action.

    Lactulose can be helpful. Also: Wheat bran, 1 tablespoon per day, or canned plain pumpkin, 1 teaspoon 2x per day are suggestions made by the authors of the book referred to in the article.

    Good luck with Hightops. There are several causes of a bloated abdomen one of which is a blockage as you imply. I’ll do a page on distended abdomens today.

  3. Try these if nothing else works. They fixed my kitty.. who was struggling with hard stools:

    1. Docusate sodium (STOOL SOFTENER CAPSULES): this is the active ingredient used in STOOL SOFTENER CAPSULES for humans, available at any grocery or drug store. This is the EXACT SAME ingredient used in stool softener capsules for cats! It’s safe to use and you DO NOT need a prescription from a vet to buy this! Dosage: 1 pill per day (100mg)(I gave my kitty 2 on the first day). You will need to learn how to get your cat to swallow a pill, if you’ve never done this before. Tip: sit down, put cat between your legs, fold your legs behind its butt so it can’t squirm away, gently pry open its mouth (they’ll never voluntarily swallow a pill), stick pill on tongue (slightly back in mouth), close up mouth and hold their head up until they swallow.

    2. Shaved turkey breast (deli style) and PUMPKIN: My cat refused to eat his canned food if there was even just a *hint* of pumpkin in there. The trick is to stick a blob of PUMPKIN on a small piece of deli-style shaved turkey breast. Fold the breast over and around the pumpkin on all sides, so the pumpkin is mostly contained inside. Wrap that into another small piece of turkey breast. If your cat is like mine, it won’t be able to resist the turkey meat. It will want to eat all of the turkey meat, and will not be able to figure out a way to get rid of the pesky pumpkin besides licking it off the turkey. Really, it won’t mind the pumpkin at all, as long as there is shaved turkey breast to be had. Mission accomplished!

    3. You should also ADD WATER to your cat’s canned food (mix it in) and do not give them any more dry food (especially if they are older). Dry food will only make the problem re-appear.

    Follow these tips and your kitty will thank you.. and everyone will be relieved (especially your kitty!)

  4. I stopped the dry food, Sheba is only five years old, and it was her fourth day. This am she went twice, and I’m so relieved. Thanks for the tip, will try the pill if there is a next time, but she is strong, and I never could get a pill into any of my kiddies mouth. Some people find it so easy to do. Amazing. Just stopping the dry food helped, and I did give her a bit of butter, she loves that. Don’t even know if that did help or not !

  5. My cat has both constipation, bloated stomach and UTI which was treated with long acting antibiotics the vet is not helpful they just want to run up the bill and promise nothing so I am taking charge if I go back 2 the same Vet I will end up socking him the face 4 baldfaced lying profiteering ok off subject I started giving Distilled Water by mouth feeder W mild results I have used THC wich is controversial however the cat immediately went to the bathroom but nothing just a strain he did get his appetite back and is now eating and drinking on his own as a result THC and I gave an enema which he then started to pass hard ball stools however he is stil wobly and needs ATTN. so I will repeat what is working I am concerned how he walks but but is could b he is walking funny because he still constipated and n need of some Laxatives people r trying to tell me to let him go unexceptionable I know my cat and as long as I am am seeing progress which there is Marked progress clearly I am determined to keep him out of pain and whatever I can do again its up to me and him at this point he will most any likely need a long term fiber diet and or Laxatives and lots of ATTN.Any other helpful suggestion I am open and if u say run 2 the vet F off its done thank u and if u want to can correct my spelling to GOOD site

    • Hi Matt. Well done in your attempts to help your cat. I can’t really add to what I have already written. I feel you are very concerned and doing your best. I love to see that.

  6. Thank you, It all makes perfect sense now Lulu got 2 painful teeth out a few weeks ago, and she was on antibiotics the ones that last a long time, so now her teeth are better she’s been guzzling down the dry food as she has no pain…She lives with 8 other cats in their own area. And I thought it was because it was cold, that the food was going quicker, (they get wet food too once a day.) Silly me.
    So tomorrow I think a good walk will do her good, I also gave her some parafin oil. So she will get better soon. Naughty Lulu!!!

  7. Hello,every one…i,justed fosterd a young male cat with a spinal cord injury…Yeah i know….at first i couldnt get him to stop pooping and now i cant get him to go?!!!!!! So im going to try the docusate,and see how it works…
    thanks to all for the hints
    maria

    • Please tell how irregular her pooping is? How constipated is she and have your tried the remedies on the page? There are laxatives for cats listed on this page but check with your vet for an underlying reason. There is not much point is trying to cure the symptom (constipation) if the cause of it is not treated because the problem will come back.

  8. Pingback: cats constipation | Health Wealth Builder

  9. I have a 5 year old female cat and noticed she wasn’t having a bowel movement as often as before. What she was having were small hardened balls. Took her to the vet, who of course ran all the blood work(all normal), and an xray which revealed what I already knew. She had a bad case of constipation. They gave her Subcutaneous fluid(100 ml) and an enema. This produced great results. She has been given lactulose 1.5 mls twice a day and I noticed that she is again not producing enough stool and is bloated again. I gave her some vegetabel oil today and if I don’t get results, I am goint to try an enema again and back to the vet.

    • Judy, thank you very much for sharing your experiences. It is very important to visitors because it is live, first hand information. If you can find the time please update us and tell us how things progress and good luck to you both. Happy Christmas.

  10. My cat is 10 and just within the last few days started pooping in a few places outside the litter box. It is only a small stool, and it is hard. She has been picking at her food (vet has had her on a wet food diet for past year or so, monitoring kidneys function, which are normal–still)… Been meowing a lot and just not really herself.. Has peed on a bathroom rug and now on her bed, which is on my bed….. UTI and constipation? What are your thoughts?

    • Miranda. You know I have a feeling that the constipation and UTI are linked by one thing: the age of your cat but not by a common disease.

      Personally, I’d treat them separately. Get something for the constipation and the usual cure for a UTI is an antibiotic and cat food with plenty of water (I used microwaved fish with added water) plus low stress as stress exacerbates urinary tract infections such as cystitis.

      I know I am being rather vague but both conditions are treatable and there are lots of treatments.

      Is there anything happening in your world that might cause your cat to become stressed? If so, I’d remove the cause.

  11. i have an older male cat who has had constipation issues lately, to the extent of not being able to fully evacuate for days, only small bits. this condition has existed for months now, and i make daily notes on my calendar regarding his bowel movements.
    i have successfully used suppository numerous times when i know it is required, these are liquid glycerin adult suppositories, brand name ‘fleet’. this takes 10-20 minutes, and in that time the cat will fully evacuate all accumulation, usually squatting twice to finish completely.
    the cat will squirm for insertion of course, i think my cat is accustomed and does not tighten as the first few times. when cat tightens, be gentle.
    i have also used homeopath for nasal drip, works great. i purchased cat homeopath on internet, read the ingredients then buy ingredients local retail health food store.

    • Great comments Steve, thanks a lot for taking the time. Do you think that if you have to force evacuation so frequently that it will lessen the cat’s ability to create his own bowel movements? Have you figured out what is causing the constipation?

      • hello Michael, my cat is older, and more sedentary than his younger days, and this is probably why his stools become hard and dry internally, thus difficult to pass. he does have bowel movement on his own, sometimes nearly normal, he drinks lots of water, and i am making food adjustment, there are many great ideas on websites. today i will purchase ‘vegetable glycerin’ to create a treat, or laxative mixed with slippery elm bark, i will try different things to adjust his internal so he can have normal bowel movement. i did take my cat to the vet on 10/01/13, his systems all fine, just require food adjust for constipation issue. i would like this information to spread far and wide so that all cats having similar issues stand a chance…

  12. hello Michael, i have discovered that lactulose, available by prescription only from vet, is likely merely ‘vegetable glycerin’ with added water, and with that said, i decline to talk further about vet service…
    for anyone whose cat is experiencing constipation, suppository simply works, not necessarily as a cure, but immediate relief from discomfort.

  13. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.

    After all I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write once more soon!

  14. Great article. I’ve recently become interested in alternative medicine/home treatments soon after getting misdiagnosed by my GP for a potentially life-threatening condition. I feel more and mor people are starting to wake up and recognize that the healthcare establishment does not have our best interests at heart, and they must take responsibility for their own health, simply because no one else is going to. Sadly, mainstream media continues to label anyone who talks about natural therapy/alternative medicine as a “quack” or even a “charlatan” like this article from NBC news: http://www.nbcnews.club/cancer-patients-turning-alternative-remedies/311 . It really is nothing more than a hit-piece. We need some sincere reporting concerning the success rate of alternative medicine, it’s about time.

  15. I have a new kitten I was told 8 weeks and litter trained and eating when I collected her, she didn’t eat for first two days then kitten milk and a little tuna did the trick, now she is happily eating wet food, she will not drink water on its own, I mix the milk up with it and she is repeatedly ignoring the litter tray in favour of my bed even thou she is moved there over and over again when in the motions of starting, now I’ve had her 9 days and the last two her stomach is swollen and she seems to not goto toilet all day and I’m encoraging her at night, she is happily eating in fact scoffs it down and plays and runs about like normal, her poo was hard when she arrived but last night it had a lil bit of mucus but seemed fairly normal. I’m worried about the swelling as she is so young, Is this a transitional change that’s affecting her toilet habits, she will let you stroke her tummy and seems fine. What would be your advise. I’ve never owed a cat before. Thanks

    • Hi Faydie, thanks for visiting and asking.

      the last two her stomach is swollen and she seems to not go to toilet all day and I’m encouraging her at night

      It does seem like straight constipation. It can cause a bloated stomach. Cats can behave normally with that condition. The page this is on deals with that. I’d recommend seeing a veterinarian.

      Please don’t feed her cow’s milk. Cats are lactose intolerant. Use special milk (buy it in the shops) or if you want her to drink more add water to boiled/microwaved fish or something like that.

      Other causes of abdominal distension (bloated stomach) are:

      • overeating
      • eating fermented foods
      • worm infestation *** this one rings a bell. A worm infestation in kittens causes a bloated belly. I’d see your vet about this. It is easy to treat (pills).

      Other causes that are less likely are:

      • Cushing’s disease
      • heart failure (v.unlikely)
      • feline infectious peritonitis

      All these conditions are on this website. You can find them by using the search box in the right hand column of the site.

      Of all these constipation and worms are the most likely I’d suggest.

      Good luck to you both.

  16. Thank you Michael
    This article is very useful for a person like me.

    Please I want to humbly request you to make downloadable PDF link for every article so that we can read it on the tablet in beds, too.

    Sometimes it is hard to read articles in a position in front of desktop/ laptop.

    Thanks :)

    • I’d be happy to do that over time for some articles but as there are over 7,000 pages on PoC I can’t do them all ;) If you have a wireless connection in your home or a cabled Ethernet connection from the router you can go online from your tablet computer and read the article online in bed. I do quite a lot of work in bed ;) Love it!

  17. If it is hard for you to make PDFs, I can help and mail you the small size PDFs with watermarks of PoC and it will make an addition to the site. <3

  18. I found a kitten that apparently crawled away from the nest, around 3 weeks old, eyes just barely open, and Ive been feeding him on the bottle with kitten replacement milk. He has had 2 bowel movements but today he seems more bloated than usual and I havent seen any “poop” in his box. What is the recipe for a natural enema for this tiny baby and what would be small enough to administer it without hurting him.

    • Have you tried wiping his bottom with a damp cloth or something like that to stimulate bowl movements. “Hand-fed kittens must have their anal and genital areas massaged with a wad of cotton soaked in warm water after each feeding to stimulate the elimination reflex”.

      If kitten is constipated a warm water enema can be given by eyedropper to an older kitten (2-3 full droppers after each feeding) or give up to 1-3 cc of mineral oil by enema. Milk of Magnesia (3 drops per ounce of body weight) can be given by mouth.

      Best of luck and thanks for visiting. The info is from an excellent source.

  19. “The old grey (mare) cat just ain’t what (s)he used to be, ain’t what (s)he used to be, ain’t what (s)he used to be…
    “The old grey (mare) cat just ain’t what (s)he used to be, many long year ago…”

    (Sorry, but that old nursery rhyme just got stuck in my head as I started to write this)

    My wonderful old (81 cat-years or so) feline friend Dr. Itchy Brother has been exhibiting the classic signs of being plugged to the gills for a few months now.

    Only now and then will he complain – an occasional yelp as he poops – and he seems to eat and drink enough to keep him in apparent fair health and spirits otherwise, but I would be ever so remiss not to attend to this condition.

    Dietary changes and considerations (including dropper after dropper-full of olive oil) don’t seem to produce the needed results. I have read that relieving the impaction (yes, his stools are quite dry and hard, like broken pieces of a Presto-log) is vital, before any other type of treatments.

    Apparently, a lot of loose stool back behind a “plug” can be a dangerous situation for him, from what I have read elsewhere. Tonight, I am going to attempt his very first enema, and just keep repeating the process until some “normal” poop is evacuated.

    I have read that glycerin suppositories are highly recommended, but alas: I have none. However, I do have some liquid Vegetable Glycerin.

    Just to “get things going”, I am going to use that as the first solution I administer him, maybe mix it 50/50 with warm water.

    The only thing I have with a small enough tip to administer the enema is a syringe for refilling printer-ink cartridges. I have a standard enema bag, but the tip is far too large for Itchy’s wee widdle bung.

    THERE IS A REASON I AM WRITING ABOUT THIS BEFORE I ATTEMPT IT: if I hit “Post Comment”, I will have committed to doing the deed. I said “tonight”, and this will steel my resolve and I will not put it off, as I have been want to do so many times before.

    I will write a follow-up, and let all know how the syringe/glycerin/water “solution” to the problem works out. I am going to be “winging it” all the way: I have limited supplies to work with, no money to purchase any additional online or at the store, and the nearest Vet is a $40 for gas round-trip.

    “HERE GOES!”

    (at least “there HE goes!”, I hope!)

    • Hi Bruce. Loved your comment. Very instructional and I really like first hand experiences. Please come back and tell us how you got on. There is a disconnect between what the books say for home treatment and actually delivering the treatment I feel!

      All future comments of yours will be published immediately without moderation. Thanks for visiting and sharing.

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