Constipated Cat

6 Ways to Help Your Constipated Cat

Medical Contributor:

Dr. Fernando Betancourt

Mar 29, 2023

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Is your cat constipated? Do you want to help relieve this problem so he or she can get back to functioning normally again soon? Constipation in cats can be due to a variety of underlying causes, including conformational abnormalities (pelvic fractures leading to narrowing of the pelvic canal), idiopathic megacolon (dilation of the colon with unknown cause), nerve dysfunction, chronic kidney disease, hypercalcemia (high blood calcium level) and hypothyroidism (low thyroid level seen only in kittens or after radioactive iodine therapy for hyperthyroidism). The underlying cause for constipation is often not found because many affected cats have an underlying neurologic problem (idiopathic megacolon).

In the article below, we’ll explore some of the best ways you can help your constipated cat feel better fast. With the help of this guide, you can find some solutions that are sure to work for your feline friend.

Best Ways to Help Your Cat With This Condition

Listed below are the 6 ways you can help your cat:

1. Hydration

Hydration is the most important step in helping your cat deal with constipation. When your cat is constipated, it may be due to dehydration. This problem, in turn, will make them even more constipated, so the cycle will continue without some intervention.

You can help your cat stay hydrated by providing him or her with plenty of fresh, clean water every day. If your cat doesn’t drink much water—as most cats don’t—try offering some plain, chicken/tuna broth to drink as well. You may also find cat “broth” meals for purchase in pet food stores, and these can be given every now and then.

2. Diet

Wet food helps relieve constipation because it is hydrating, and it also helps because it is softer and easier for most cats to digest than dry food. High-quality wet foods are just as healthy for most cats as dry, but be sure to talk to your vet before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet.

Ideally, you should alternate wet and dry food. However, if your cat is very constipated, it is usually okay to  exclusively feed wet food for a couple of days to help take care of the problem. In some cases, high-fiber prescription diets are recommended for long-term management. Fiber diets can help feed the “good bacteria” and help promote a normal environment in the intestine, while also keeping the gastrointestinal tract hydrated.

3. Exercise

Exercise can help your cat stay regular and reduce the risk of constipation. If you have a very lazy cat or an older cat who isn’t quite as active as she once was, you may be able to help her with her constipation issues by encouraging her to play actively a little bit every day.

Active play can typically be encouraged when you engage your cat by throwing a toy or dangling a wand for her to chase. However, your cat may prefer to play on her own with kick toys, or she might want to chase a treat ball around the room instead.

4. Stress- Adding Litter Boxes

Cats with constipation problems can be sensitive to their surroundings and any changes to their routine. Obvious causes, such as adding a new pet to the household, hosting large gatherings, and moving apartments. Less obvious causes can include loud noises near your household (construction, nearby pets making noise, etc), and changes in schedule.

Reducing environmental stress may decrease episode severity and lengthen interepisode interval. Strategies to consider include enrichment activities to the environment (climbing structures, viewing resting perches, scratching posts). Many cats often respond to pheromones (Feliway), natural herbs (catnip), and medications.

In addition, cats tend to benefit from having more than one litter box in the household. Many tend to be particular about environmental stimuli such as, location, type of box, and litter that may cause episodes of constipation. Usual recommendation is to have two litter boxes per cat in the household. Follow-up with your family veterinarian for additional stress reducing options inducing possible medications.

5. Over-the-Counter Laxatives (MiraLax and Lactulose)

Some constipation patients benefit from regular usage of laxative medications to help pass stool. These medications work by encouraging retained water into the intestine, and helping with stool-softening and passage of fecal material.

Some cats may need to be given these medications daily to help cut back on constipation issues. However, due to pulling of water into the intestine, regular follow-ups should be scheduled with your family veterinarian to prevent any worsening of other underlying diseases (chronic kidney disease, etc).

Contact VEG if Your Cat is Constipated 

Based on this information, you should be able to find some solutions for your cat’s constipation issue. However, if none of these methods seem to work, or if your cat is showing any other concerning symptoms, it is time for a trip to the vet instead.

If your cat remains constipated for longer than a couple of days or if it is no longer interested in food along with their constipation symptoms, they need to be seen right away by your family veterinarian or an emergency hospital. They could have an intestinal blockage contributing to the problem, and this condition can be fatal if left untreated.

Contact VEG if your cat is constipated. We have locations all over the country with emergency vets who are available 24/7 to help you and your pet. When you come to VEG, our team will get to the cause of your cat’s condition and you can be rest assured that your pet will get the proper care they need.