Monday, April 15, 2013

Constipation in Cats

Today's question is a commonly asked topic.

"I have a 5-year old neutered male indoor cat who recently got constipated and had to have several enemas at the vets office. He eats crunchy grain free food, and since his episode I have started giving him canned food. What can I feed him that will help with the constipation?"
Here is my answer;
Thanks for your question.
There are many things that can contribute to constipation in cats.
Rather than just prescribe or recommend supplements I try to find the reason for the problem and then start treating that.
Certainly there are many things that you can "try" to help move the feces along. There are laxatives like "cat-lax" some old fashioned home remedies (which I do not recommend), the addition of fiber, the addition of water, switching diets, and adding motility agents.
But I have to confess that there is not one remedy that works for everyone. This is because there is not the same root cause for every pet.
Based on what you have told me I think I would start my conversation with you discussing what you have been doing, i.e. what have you been feeding? And ask about your cat's lifestyle and over all health. All of this information is imperative to identifying possible contributing factors to his constipation.
Also, any pet that has an episode of constipation is at an increased risk of it recurring. So, I ask my clients to pay super close attention to the litter box to make sure that the feces are a normal size, shape, and consistency.
I also instruct my clients on how to palpate their cat so they can identify constipation and help monitor at home.
If you didn't have these discussions with your vet ask them to go over them with you, OR, you can come visit me at the clinic and we can go over them.
I have written a few blog articles on constipation and megacolon. Please visit my blog at and search the labels on the right hand side for constipation and megacolon, or use the links below.
In general I like wet food for indoor cats versus dry. I also am not a big fan of the "grain free" diets. I also pay very close attention my pets body condition score and any other health issues. For indoor cats my usual recommendation is 1/2 can (5.5 oz) high quality canned food, sometimes I have my clients add water as a filler, or a stool softener, twice a day, and a minimum amount of a high quality dry food.
Certainly diet management is a part of constipation treatment but please don't forget to treat the whole cat and not just the cat's colon.
If you would like to discuss any of this I can be found at the clinic.
Best of Luck with your cat,

A cat with a lot of feces.
The cat's head is to the left and the feces takes up almost all of the abdomen.

The white tubular structure on the right of the body is all packed hard, dry feces.
This is a terribly severe case.

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