Feline constipation is a condition in which the cat has a difficult time excreting feces because the ingested food moves through the digestive system too slowly allowing the colon to absorb too much water. This causes the feces to become dry, hard and sometimes very difficult to excrete. Constipation in cats can be noted by infrequent, incomplete, or difficult defecation.
Feline constipation can be extremely painful and can make your kitty feel pretty sick. If the constipation is prolonged or prevents the passage of stools it’s referred to as feline obstipation. Some cats with severe cat constipation can also develop feline megacolon.
Feline Constipation and Megacolon
Feline megacolon is when the cat’s large intestine becomes enlarged and is filled with hard fecal matter. Cats of any age, gender or breed can develop megacolon but it seems to be more common in males, middle-aged cats and domestic shorthairs. Some believe a sedentary lifestyle may be a contributing factor for developing feline constipation and eventually feline megacolon. Other things that can contribute to constipation in cats include diet, drugs/medications, neurological, metabolic or endocrine diseases.
If you notice your cat is straining but producing little or no feces, vomiting or not eating you should consult your veterinarian right away. The vet will need to do tests for an accurate diagnosis and to determine if the constipation may be a symptom of other possible cat health problems.
Signs of feline constipation or feline megacolon can include:
- Little or no defecation
- Dry, hard feces
- Painful defecation (cat meowing or howling while trying to defecate)
- Straining in the litter box, spending a lot of time in the litter box or multiple trips to the litter box
- Defecating outside the litter box
- Vomiting (may even happen while trying to defecate)
- As the condition becomes worse, decreased appetite, weight loss and lethargy
Treatment of Feline Constipation and Megacolon
The treatment of constipation in cats can vary depending on the severity of the condition. A mild bout of constipation can clear up on it’s own, but you need to watch your cat closely to make sure she is able to defecate and to make sure she isn’t in pain.
A constipation remedy for a cat with mild feline constipation might include adding fiber, like pumpkin or psyllium, to a high quality canned cat food along with more exercise and regular grooming. Also make sure she’s drinking enough water. You may want to put water in several rooms in the house to encourage drinking or invest in a drinking fountain. But be sure to consult your veterinarian for proper cat care before trying to self-diagnose or treat your cat.
If the feline constipation is persistent or severe your veterinarian may need to perform specific procedures to remove the feces from the colon. They may also prescribe some medications to help the condition. If there has been severe or prolonged constipation the vet may need to treat for dehydration as well.
Feline constipation can be a symptom of feline colitis — an inflammation of the colon. Because the colon is inflamed the cat may experience pain while trying to defecate so she may stop the process. This can cause constipation in cats. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose if this is the cause of your cat’s constipation.
As unpleasant as it sounds paying close attention to your cats bathroom habits is important as changes in these habits can be a signal that your kitty needs medical attention.