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Constipation In Cats

Cats are fiercely independent creatures and can easily adapt to living in many different environments; but they’re not invulnerable to disease or poor digestive health symptoms like constipation.

Cats are proud animals and unbelievably, they can be a little spiteful now and then. If you haven’t been keeping up on your part of the partnership, such as keeping the litter box clean, your cat may begin to revolt. You may find cat droppings on the floor next to the box or they may decide not to go at all, and the latter behavior can lead to a bout with constipation in cats.

But don’t be fooled. Your cat’s constipation could be a sign of something more worrisome than mere stubbornness. Several medical conditions may cause intestinal trouble in your beloved feline.

What are Common Causes of Constipation in Cats?


One of the most common reasons for constipation in cats is hair ingestion. Your pet may have swallowed a large amount of fur while cleaning themselves and the fur can accumulate in its bowels until it blocks bowel movements. Sometimes, a hairball can become so impacted surgery is required to remove it. A good way to prevent hair ingestion is to brush your cat daily or as often as possible. Keeping your cat’s fur free of tangles and debris will help prevent constipation and besides, they will love it!


Another common cause of constipation in cats is an obstruction in the colon. Obstructions can be physiological, such as a tumor, or physical, such as an old pelvic fracture prohibiting waste from moving through the colon. Cats can sometimes pass liquid stool around the obstruction but it may have blood or mucous within it. This unformed bowel movement is not the same as diarrhea, however, which is caused by viral infection.


Cats can also develop obstipation—a severe blockage of the colon by the presence of hardened feces. Obstipation makes defecating nearly impossible and generally requires surgery to correct the issue if oral laxatives or enemas don’t help.

Neurological Disorder

Neurological damage, from spinal cord diseases or complete paralysis, can very well cause constipation in cats. Basically, if the brain cannot communicate with the body, the bowels may not “know” to get rid of waste.

Other Reasons

If you have been giving your cat medication for any reason, constipation will probably present itself as one of the side effects. Nearly all drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies list constipation as one of the side effects. Also, just as in humans, lack of water can lead to constipation in cats. If your cat is dehydrated, its body will draw vital fluids from its stool, leaving it rock-hard and bone dry.

If the constipation is accompanied by vomiting, internal bleeding, lethargy, or loss of appetite, you should take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible in case a severe health problem is at work. Always consult with your cat’s vet before considering giving any medications or treatments to your cat at home. For example, laxatives can lead to diarrhea, so you need to be very careful.

What Could Happen from Untreated Constipation?

If the feline constipation if left untreated, a condition known as Megacolon can develop. Megacolon occurs when part of the colon becomes dilated and inactive so literally nothing will pass through. In the event your cat develops Megacolon, don’t fret because it can be treated. Various medications and laxatives have been proven to “reactivate” the affected section of the colon. If the usual methods don’t fix the Megacolon, then it may be necessary for the veterinarian to surgically remove the section of colon, but that should be considered a drastic, last resort.

How Can I Prevent Constipation in My Cat?

Besides combing your cat daily, here are a few tips to help prevent constipation in cats:

  • Make sure their litter box and the surrounding area is clean and there is no build-up of feces or urine in the “sand”.
  • Provide plenty of fresh purified water. For some reason, cats love to drink moving water (perhaps it reminds them of an animal to chase). Buy a fountain-style watering dish and they’ll drink more water every day.
  • Add natural fiber to their cat food if you suspect they are having a problem defecating. Good sources of fiber include whole wheat bread moistened a bit or small amounts of finely chopped nuts mixed in with tuna fish for an occasional treat.

Besides feeding your pet high quality foods and providing them with plenty of fresh water, keeping their litter box clean is critical. When the box is full, it can really stink up the place, and just imagine how your cat feels with a sense of smell hundreds of times keener than yours. You would not want to be in the same room with a dirty litter box and neither does your pet. The underlying reasons for constipation in cats bear a remarkable likeness to those of humans. Your cat will not want to go in a box that’s already full of you know what and they may hold it in just as you do when a public restroom is filthy.

Constipation in cats can be prevented with the above common sense methods. Take good care of your pet and you can help prevent them from experiencing constipation. If you start to notice the symptoms developing, try switching your cat’s food to a different brand, or check their water dish, litter box, etc. for signs of inattention. Overall, just stay calm. Usually, animals work out their digestive issues just fine without intervention of any kind.

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