It seems very strange that pumpkin, a fruit, can be feed to a cat as a cure for both constipation or diarrhea. Nothing makes sense in that sentence. A cat is a carnivore (they don’t eat fruit!) and constipation is the opposite to diarrhea. So what is happening? Well, it is high in fiber and it helps to regulate the bowels plus cats will eat it, or at least some will. An important initial point is that feeding pumpkin to cure these conditions does not address the causes. If the cause is dietary so much the better but if there is some underlying illness, feeding pumpkin is not the solution.
Jayme, a regular visitor to the site wrote a comment on the yogurt as a cure for diarrhea page:
Pumpkin works magic! I use it every time my boy has the slightest hint of loose bowels!! I always keep a small can on hand. He loves it as well so its easy to feed. Yipee…. =)
That is a strong recommendation. However, I can’t find the reason why pumpkin works for diarrhea other than it is a general way of stabilising the bowels and making them healthy. The PetMD website says:
Increased dietary fiber can also help pets suffering from diarrhea.
But it does not tell us how it works. I do know that excessive eating can cause diarrhea and as pumpkin is high in fiber it makes a cat feel full and so reduces the amount eaten which in turn prevents that cause of diarrhea occurring.
Pumpkin as a cure for constipation is more obvious. It can help for mild constipation. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook says:
For mild constipation adding bulk-forming laxatives is beneficial. These laxatives absorb water in the colon, soften feces and promote more frequent defecation…..canned plain pumpkin (1 teaspoon, 5g, twice a day)….
The high fiber content of pumpkin creates “stool bulk” which helps promote the contraction of the muscles of the colon which forces the feces out!
Do cats like to eat pumpkin? My reading about this is that many cats find pumpkin acceptable and occasionally they love it.
Cats with chronic constipation or who have recurring episodes of constipation might benefit from a high-fiber diet. Weight-loss cat foods are high in fiber. There are prescription, commercially available high fiber foods in the West such as Hills Diet w/d but it would seem that a good alternative might be adding pumpkin to a cat’s diet especially if the cat is on dry cat food only. Pumpkin is 90% water and dry cat food can dehydrate a cat (the cat is kept in a permanent mild state of dehydration) so introducing pumpkin rebalances the cat’s water intake as well as adding fiber.
On the catsite website a visitor (and a user of pumpkin in her cat’s diet) says:
for treating hairballs, diarrhea, or constipation, the dose is one tablespoon a day
The veterinarian in the video recommends a higher dosage: a quarter cup a day for an adult cat and a tablespoon for a small kitten.
What sort of pumpkin?
If you don’t want to make the effort or don’t have the time to carve, cook, and puree your raw pumpkin, then you can purchase a canned or glass bottled version. Avoid pumpkin pie filling because it contains unwanted ingredients: fat, sugar, spices, flavorings and preservatives which could cause digestive tract upset. In short it should be as natural as possible.
Pumpkin is worth trying certainly for mild constipation and perhaps as a general preventative to constipation. As for it being a cure for feline diarrhea, there is far less about this on the internet and nothing in the books I have but it works for Jayme which is good enough to at least give it a try and it does seem to be regulator of digestive tract health.
Pumpkin brings other potential health benefits e.g a source of water and cats often don’t drink enough water and as a source of carotenoids, Vitamin C and potassium. However, a standard good diet will contain these ingredients. Also a diet needs to be balanced. Care should be taken when introducing supplements.
The photo without words is by Samantha Chapnick (Flickr)