One of the last things you want to experience as a cat parent is your feline friend being constipated. Not only can it be uncomfortable for your kitty, but chronic constipation can also be frustrating when trying to figure out how to relieve them from the symptoms.
There are a few things you can do to help ease your cat’s constipation and get them feeling better quickly! Read on for helpful information about cat constipation – from causes and symptoms through treatment options.
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Constipation in Cats: What Is It and What Are the Symptoms?
Before we get into how to help a constipated cat, let’s take a moment to define what we’re dealing with. After all, a problem is much easier to solve when you understand what it is!
Constipation in cats is when they have difficulty passing feces from their digestive tract due to excess dryness or hardening of the stool. In simple terms, this means that the cat cannot poop.
Sometimes, this requires medical treatment, whereas stool softeners can fix it in others.
As a general rule of thumb, cats should be pooping every 24-36 hours. If your kitty takes longer than that or has to strain while showing signs of pain, they may be constipated.
It’s essential to watch for signs of constipation in cats, as it can be a symptom of underlying health issues. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Dry and hard stools: A cat’s poop usually is rich brown, and soft. If you notice it is dry and hard, this could be a sign of constipation.
- Dry heaving is when your cat looks like they are trying to vomit, but no food comes out. If they do this after eating, then it could be a sign of constipation.
- Straining: If you notice that your cat is straining in the litter box, even if there is no poop present, then it could indicate constipation.
- Pain when touching the abdomen: If your cat appears in pain or cries out when you touch its stomach, it could be a sign of constipation.
- Loss of appetite: Sometimes cats lose their appetite when they are constipated.
Some other signs to look out for include lethargy, vomiting, and hiding. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your cat, it is essential to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
What Causes Constipation in Cats?
Now that we understand constipation let’s talk about its causes. These can vary from cat to cat, but some of the most common causes include:
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation in cats. Cats need to have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Cats need 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight daily to stay properly hydrated. Unfortunately, not all cats get the recommended amount of water they need.
The lack of adequate fluids can lead to dehydration and constipation in cats. This is because the foods cats eat are usually very dense and contain a lot of protein and fat but not a lot of moisture. When there isn’t enough water in the cat’s diet, this can cause the stools to become dry and harden, leading to constipation.
Lack of Fiber in the Diet
Lack of fiber in a cat’s diet can be another cause of constipation. Fiber helps to keep the intestines healthy and aids in the passage of stool through the digestive system.
Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring a high-protein diet low in carbohydrates and fiber. This can lead to problems with constipation since cats don’t typically consume enough dietary fiber naturally.
Fiber stimulates peristalsis, the wave-like motion that helps move food through the digestive tract. Without adequate fiber, stools can become hard and difficult to pass.
Stress or Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can also be a cause of constipation in cats. A cat’s body responds to stress by releasing hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine, which increases muscle tension and spasms in the gastrointestinal system. This tightens the digestive tract muscles, making it difficult for food and feces to move through.
Cats are highly sensitive creatures who can become easily stressed by environmental or routine changes. Even seemingly minor events like moving furniture, adding new pets to the home, or even changes in their diet can trigger stress in cats.
Additionally, cats can develop anxiety disorders that can further compound the problem of constipation. Anxiety-related issues will require medical intervention from your veterinarian, but some at-home solutions may help reduce your cat’s stress levels.
How To Help A Constipated Cat: Tips and Home Remedies
Now that you know what constipation is and what the signs and symptoms are, let’s look at how you can help a constipated cat. Depending on the cause of constipation, there are several things you can do to help:
Increase Your Cat’s Water Consumption
Increasing your cat’s water consumption is one of the best ways to help a constipated cat. Not only does it help keep them hydrated and prevent dehydration, but it also helps reduce their risk of constipation.
The first step towards helping your cat with constipation is to ensure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
As mentioned earlier, cats should have at least 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight daily to stay hydrated and reduce constipation risk. So an average 10-pound cat should have access to 8 ounces of water daily.
To encourage your cat to drink more, add a water fountain to their area or change the type of bowl they are drinking from. Some other tricks include:
- Setting up multiple water bowls around the house
- Flavoring their water with tuna juice or different flavors cats love
- Leaving your faucet running for a few seconds each day so that your cat can drink from the running water
Minimize Any Stress or Anxiety for Your Cat
To minimize stress or anxiety in a constipated cat, it is vital to identify and address any underlying causes. Cats are highly sensitive creatures who can become easily stressed by environmental or routine changes. Providing your cat with a safe and secure environment and a consistent diet and routine is crucial.
Provide plenty of places for your cat to hide away, such as perches, boxes, or ramps they can climb up on. This will allow them to retreat when they feel overwhelmed or anxious. If you have multiple cats, make sure there are enough spots so each cat has their own space.
In addition to providing them with a secure environment, engaging your cat mentally and physically with toys and activities like fetching, chasing strings, etc., is essential. This will help keep their mind stimulated, which can reduce stress levels.
You should also try to create a relaxed atmosphere in your home by playing calming music (especially if you have multiple cats) and using diffusers, which can have a calming effect on cats.
Change Your Cat’s Diet
Your cat’s diet could be a key factor in alleviating constipation. If your cat is constipated, it may have a food allergy or sensitivity, causing intestinal inflammation and leading to the condition. Changing the protein source of your cat’s diet can help reduce the chances of your pet developing an allergic reaction and becoming constipated.
When selecting a new protein for your cat, choosing one with minimal ingredients likely to cause allergies is essential. This means selecting proteins not commonly associated with allergies, such as fish, lamb, or duck.
It is also vital to ensure that the food does not contain added additives or preservatives, which can increase the risk of an allergic reaction. Your vet may also recommend adding probiotics and prebiotics, which can help improve digestion and reduce inflammation in your cat’s system.
Add Another Litter Box for Your Cat
Adding another litter box in a different location can help a constipated cat by providing them with more options for elimination. Cats are picky creatures, and sometimes they don’t like the look, feel, or smell of their current litter box, so they’ll avoid using it.
Giving your cat an additional option in a different spot might make them feel more comfortable when they need to go.
It is also important to note that cats are territorial animals and prefer to use a litter box in a place where they feel safe and secure. So if your cat’s current litter box is close to eating or sleeping areas or too close to loud noises, such as the washing machine or vacuum cleaner, it could cause them stress, leading to constipation.
When choosing another litter box for your cat, select one with low sides to make it easier for your pet to get in and out of. It should also be spacious enough for them to turn around easily when inside. The size of the new litter box should accommodate the size of your cat.
Help Your Cat Lose Weight
Obesity is one of the leading causes of constipation in cats, and it can be challenging to tackle. When cats have extra fat around their abdomens, it places pressure on their intestines, making it difficult for them to pass stools. Obesity also causes intestinal inflammation, which can decrease motility, making it almost impossible for them to eliminate.
If your cat is overweight, we recommend you talk to your vet about a diet and exercise plan. Start by reducing the number of treats you give your cat and the food you provide. Instead, feed your cat a balanced diet with enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Giving them plenty of exercise is also essential to help them lose weight.
Exercise is integral to helping cats lose weight as it helps burn off excess fat and allows them to use up more energy that they would otherwise store as fat. Ensure you provide plenty of opportunities for your cat to move indoors and outdoors, if possible. Regular play sessions with interactive toys also offer great options for physical activity.
Try Probiotics for Your Cat
Probiotics are a great way to help relieve your cat’s constipation. They work by introducing beneficial bacteria into the digestive system, restoring gut balance and improving digestion. The good bacteria also help to break down food more effectively and reduce inflammation in the intestinal lining, which can lead to constipation if left unchecked.
When it comes to choosing a probiotic for your cat, there are several things that you should consider. Mainly, the probiotic should contain several different strains of bacteria, and you can check this on the label. Additionally, it should be free from artificial preservatives, fillers, and sugar.
Once you have found a suitable probiotic for your cat, introduce a small amount (1/8th teaspoon) into each meal. As with any new food or supplement, it is important to gradually introduce changes so your cat’s digestive system can adjust without upsetting its tummy.
Final Word on Helping Alleviate Your Cats Constipation
Helping a constipated cat can be a tricky process, but there are several steps that you can take to ensure that your furry friend is feeling better as soon as possible.
Now that you know what causes constipation in cats and the different ways to help them relieve it, you can rest assured that your pet will soon be feeling better and back to its usual happy self. Make sure to take preventative measures, too, so that your cat doesn’t suffer from constipation in the future.
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