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Cat Constipation

What is Cat Constipation?

Constipation is one of the most common health problems facing cats and routinely appears as a sign of other underlying medical conditions. Constipation is often prompted by problems in the animal’s intestinal tract. The bowels of healthy cats generally move once or twice a day. Signs of constipation include infrequent bowel movements, hard, small stools, and straining to evacuate the bowels. Middle-aged cats (above the age of eight) and overweight felines are at an increased risk of becoming constipated, but the condition can affect cats at any age.

cat constipation

Behavior of Constipated Cats

Constipated cats demonstrate their plight in a number of ways. Crying is a frequent indicator, as well as a barrage of noisy trips back and forth to the litter box without actually using the bathroom. Look out for runny, liquid stools as well. Cats experiencing constipation have been noted to lick the anal area excessively. They also lose their appetite, suffer from fatigue, and they may also vomit frequently from the severe digestive disturbance.

Causes of Constipation in Felines

The ingestion of hairballs, pelvic fractures and tumors, and neurological disorders are the leading causes of constipation in felines. These types of conditions affect the lining of the colon, and consequently impede stools from passing through the colon to exit the body. Protecting your cat from hairballs can be difficult. After all, cats spend more than one-third of their leisure time grooming. The tongue of a cat is marked by the presence of small barbs that gently pull loose hair from the coat, at which point they find their way down the throat. Hair is not digestible. Some signs of a hairball in your cat are a dry hack, meals followed by vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, eating lots of plants and grass, and hair-infused stools.

Several factors can contribute to this condition:

  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Painful stool passage
  • Pelvic Fractures
  • Tumors
  • Neurological Disorders (such as a spinal cord disease, paralysis, or Megacolon)
  • Low Potassium

Treating Your Pet for Constipation

Several options are available and each may have its pros and cons. Consult with a qualified veterinarian before implementing any of the following practices:

  • Increasing fluid intake
  • Treating the underlying medical condition
  • Laxatives
  • Administering enemas

Other Methods

Try supplementing your cat’s diet with a fiber supplement or bran. However, caution is advised as some cats experience more intense symptoms of irregularity following an increase in fiber. Consumption of liquids is essential to regularity. Provide an abundance of clean, fresh water for your feline friend every day. And if your cat likes milk or soup, try those as occasional treats, especially since milk helps some cats as a natural laxative.

Be sure to groom your cat routinely to decrease the chance of dead hair making its way into the digestive tract. Litter box lifestyle can also be instrumental in keeping a feline regular. Be sure to keep the litter box clean to ensure a cat will actually use it, and remove covers to cut down on trapped odors. And don’t change the actual litter box unless the old one has become broken or unsafe. Cats can become very attached to their personal space and disruption can cause apprehension towards the new, unfamiliar object.

Types of Constipation

Untreated cat constipation can become a serious medical condition; therefore, consult a veterinarian if your cat has not had a bowel movement in more than a week. With that in mind, constipation is not a disease, and there are a few kitty health emergencies this condition should not be confused. For example, constipation is not the same thing as obstipation. Unlike constipation, in which producing a stool remains a struggle, obstipation locks the bowels because the colon is filled with hard and immobile feces, making movements utterly impossible. Obstipation can leave a cat with irreversible changes in the lining of the colon and should be treated as a separate issue from the usual form of constipation.

Cat constipation also differs from Megacolon, otherwise known as extreme chronic dilation. This is a condition characterized by a disruption in the colon’s structure. Over time, the muscles responsible for moving waste through the colon lose their ability to maneuver fecal matter. The result of Megacolon is a colon filled with feces appearing like small bricks in composition. The complex relationship between the two conditions often misleads cat owners into thinking they are interchangeable. While all cats with Megacolon are constipated, every instance of constipation does not stem from this specific condition.

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