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Why Cats Get Constipated

by Angela Tempest

posted in Pets

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Constipation in cats is one of the most common problems associated with their digestive system and can be either difficult or infrequent bowel movements. Normally cats have to have one bowel movement per day but problems can be passing, dry and hard stools, straining when trying or even not producing anything when going to the litter box. So what causes these problems and what needs to be done to avoid them?
Diagnosing constipation
There are several signs of constipation in cats and if you see any of them in your pet, you should get in touch with a vet immediately. They can then assess the problem and determine what treatment is needed. Symptoms include;
· Straining to go to the toilet
· Crying out in pain when trying
· Frequent trips without producing anything
· Loss of appetite and/or weight
· Lethargy
· Vomiting
· Abdominal discomfort
· Lack of grooming
Constipation can be brought on by a number of things. These range from a dietary issue where they aren't eating enough fibre or dehydration through not drinking enough to physical problems. These include hairballs from excessive grooming, a blockage or abscess in the anal sacs, enlargement of the prostate gland or the ingestion of a foreign object. It can also be a side effect of medication or as the result of a tumour or other intestinal obstruction. Finally, obesity, a neurological disorder or an abnormality in the shape or motility of the colon can also cause constipation.
The treatment of the constipation will depend on what is causing the problem. Your vet will diagnose the underlying issue and this will dictate what is done from there. This may be giving the cat a stool softener or a laxative, medication and even an enema or a manual evacuation of the bowels. A worst-case scenario is that surgery may be needed to remove an obstruction in the bowel or to remove a tumour or growth.
An adjustment in diet may also be a key part of treating constipation as well as preventing it from returning. Adding fibre to the cat's diet with foodstuff such as canned pumpkin, bran cereal or even specialist products may help them pass stools and increasing their water consumption is important in treating hard and dry stool conditions. Finally, an increase in exercise can also be beneficial.
Elderly cats are more prone to constipation as a normal run of the mill condition that younger cats. But any cat not getting enough fibre in their diet can suffer with the condition and also the same applied to a lack of water or exercise. Therefore, the best way to ensure your cat doesn't get constipation in the first place is to ensure they get a balanced diet with plenty of water intake and as much exercise as possible. But because constipation can also be a symptom of a larger heath problem, you should always get in touch with your vet at the earliest opportunity to get them checked out and ensure that the constipation isn't a sign of a much more serious problem.
About the Author: For more information on cat health and wellbeing issues, please see my articles at
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