It’s always concerning when your pet suddenly becomes poorly, whether it’s coming home with a limp or a sudden onset of bowel problems- and cat constipation is up there as one of the most common problems. Indeed, constipation in cats is not only an illness in itself but a symptom of a myriad of issues, all of which we discuss in more detail in our buying guide.
Luckily, the majority of the time, the reasons for constipation in cats can be as simple as providing multiple access points for fresh water, or even changing to a specialist cat food for constipation. With this being such a huge problem for many owners, we’ve taken the time to find you the best options for handling cat constipation, when it comes to their diet and have answered some of your most common queries and concerns about cat bowel movements, below.
Best Cat Food for Constipation Buying Guide & FAQ
Is Your Cat Constipated?
Signs and symptoms of constipation in cats can vary considerably. When you consider that healthy cat poo is usually a dark brown color, while being firm but soft and having a slight smell- although nothing too pungent- it’s easy to see how any change from this can indicate issues. If you’re concerned about a constipated cat, check for the following signs:
- Infrequent or no defecation
- Hard, dry feces
- Defecating outside the litterbox
- Small quantities of feces
- Small amount of liquid stool with mucus or blood
- Lack of appetite
- Behavioral changes, such as depression or apathy
While constipation can generally be eased at home, if you notice considerable changes or notice changes for longer than a day or two, then try to get booked in with a vet, immediately.
Causes of Constipation in Cats
As with anything related to the digestive tract, there are numerous reasons as to why your cat may be constipated. However, some of the most common reasons are:
Usually from hairballs or other foreign materials. This is particularly likely if you’ve noticed your cat grooming more frequently then usual.
- Reluctance to use the litterbox
This usually happens because of stress but can also be linked to something as simple as a change in litter or a full/dirty box. They may also refuse to the use the litter tray if they are struggling with their joints, which discuss in more detail, below.
- Lack of exercise
In order to keep food flowing freely through your cat’s system, they need to exercise regularly. Regular exercise also, usually, increases the thirst reflex which will encourage your cat to drink more water, which also helps with constipation.
Speaking of getting enough water, the main cause of constipation links to dehydration. This can sometimes be due to kidney disease, as cats are normally able to easily filter water through their systems and hydrate themselves, easily. If you’ve noticed your cat drinking more frequently, or urinating more often but notice that they’re still constipated, ask your vet to check their kidneys.
- Nerve damage
If your cat has recently been in an accident or if they suffer from a long-term condition which can cause nerve damage, it could be that they are unable to poop. They could also be unsure of when they actually need to defecate and simply not know when to go, which is why it’s important that you also check where they’re defecating, as well as when they’re defecating.
Arthritis causes problems with joints, making it painful to squat. Therefore, it’s likely that an older cat may be trying to put off going to the toilet, in order to avoid this pain. Unfortunately, this causes the feces to dry and become more painful to move, which then creates more issues for your cat, as they will no longer want to use the litter tray or defecate at all.
Believed to be caused by issues with the contraction muscles along the colon, Megacolon can become worse over time as the inability to defecate causes the passage to widen and damage the muscles along the colon. Thus, it is important to see a vet as soon as possible, if you notice your cat’s constipation lasts for more than a few days.
In some cases, constipation is caused by a blockage or issue that stems from tumors in, or around, the digestive tract. These may or may not come with secondary signs and symptoms, so do tell your vet if you notice anything else alongside their constipation.
- Some drugs
Like our human treatments, many medications, including anesthetics, can cause your cat to become constipated or have other issues with their bowel movements. The good news is that this can be easily rectified by your vet, as they’ll prescribe a different medicine which is less likely to have this side effect.
It’s important to remember that constipation is not just an illness in itself but also qualifies as a symptom for much larger problems. So, if you’re concerned about your cat or they’re not improving with low residue cat food, regular exercise and plenty of water, you should definitely make an appointment with your local vet.
Dietary Requirements for Constipated Cats
The dietary requirements of each cat will inevitably be different, depending on the cause of the constipation. However, overall the best foods for constipation are low residue cat food that tends to be higher in protein, as well as high fiber cat food for constipation which has been created with the goal of treating your cat’s bowel problems.
You can also add cat supplements which help to ease constipation, such as pumpkin or multivitamins. They may also prescribe medications by their vet which can include laxatives or stool softeners. If the issue is caused by a particular illness, it’s likely that your cat may also need to take these tablets alongside other treatment.
The most important dietary factor for cats who suffer with constipation is to always ensure there is plenty of fresh water left out for your kitten. Dehydration is the main cause of constipation and so having plenty of water around can make a huge difference and avoid your cat becoming constipated, as well as being a huge help in flushing out harmful toxins.
Best Cat Food for Constipation FAQ:
Q: Does raw feeding cause constipation?
A: Raw feeding doesn’t necessarily cause constipation. In fact, because raw feeding is more likely to wholly fulfill all of your cat’s nutritional requirements, it’s more likely that your cat will simply need to defecate less often than those on kibble. This is simply due to the fact there is less waste required to dispose of by the body, when your cat’s nutritional needs are matched more closely.
They’re also more likely to have firmer stools and the smell of those stools will be much more muted than the stools of cats who are on a kibble or wet food diet. Unfortunately, having a distinct lack of digestible matter can, in fact, also lead to constipation. Yup, sometimes it feels like you can’t do right for doing wrong!
In order to avoid this, it might be worth your cat taking supplements to help ease the matter along the digestive tract. This can help fill in the blanks of your cat’s nutritional intake and essentially give your cat some extra substance, which will help things move along more smoothly.
Q: How many days can a cat go without pooping?
Really, this depends on what is normal for your cat, what food they’re on and how they’re feeling. However, the general rule of thumb is that, if your cat hasn’t defecated in over 48 hours, it’s likely that they’re constipated. This might be a little longer if they’re on a raw diet and less if they’re on kibble or wet food.
The main things to look out for, alongside constipation, is any signs that your cat is in distress. For example, if your cat is struggling with defecating but still seem to be trying and straining, then this rule of thumb can go out the window completely, as the evidence of their constipation is in front of you. You should also watch out for vomiting, lethargy or lack of appetite, all of which signify something is wrong with their digestive tract. If this is the case, then you should call your vet for an appointment as soon as possible.
Q: Can cats die from constipation?
If left untreated, constipation can eventually lead to Obstipation. This is where there is a complete blockage along the digestive tract, which causes a tremendous strain in the internal organs of your cat- especially if they are still eating as normal. If the blockage of feces is not manually removed at this point, you cat could, unfortunately and heart-breakingly, pass away.
This is why it is so important to see your vet as soon as you notice symptoms. The main three symptoms you need to watch for, as they can signify serious problems, is vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite.
Our Top Pick
Being a fantastic alternative to raw-fed diets, Blue Buffalo have created a great-tasting kibble for cats with their Wilderness range. Packed with everything your cat could possibly want, this is a great option for cats with sensitive stomachs as there are no added nasty bits.
Not only that, but this is a great option for cats of all ages, including elderly cats who are more likely to suffer with bowel problems. You can also mix this kibble with a little warm water, which can help with cats who aren’t too keen on drinking as they eat. Again, this will help hydrate your cat and help keep constipation and it’s nasty effects away from your cat!
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