What to do if your cat is constipated
Cat constipation is one of the most common health problems associated with a cat’s digestion. Acute, occasional constipation is fairly common in cats and is quite easily treated with a simple change of diet. Healthy cats normally defecate once a day, producing firm stools that keep their shape. If your cat has not had a bowel movement for 48 hours, or you are noticing dry, hard faeces, constipation may be to blame.
What is constipation?
Constipation is the failure to pass stools or a decrease in the frequency of bowel movements. If faeces remain in your cat’s colon for longer than normal, the water in the faecal material can be absorbed back into the body. This leads to hard, dry stools that can be very difficult for your cat to pass.
Causes of constipation in cats
There are many reasons your cat may be experiencing constipation, and most can be treated easily. Common causes such as low-fibre diets, dehydration, hairballs due to excessive grooming and sedentary lifestyle are easily preventable. At the more serious end of the scale, other factors that can lead to constipation include a narrowed pelvis due to previous fractures, arthritis in the hips or lower back and inflammation in the rectum or anal sacs.
It can be difficult to tell if your cat is constipated but keeping an eye on their toiletry habits can make diagnosis easier. Small, dry and hard stools are a classic sign of constipation, so is seeing your cat straining when trying to pass a stool. Other symptoms to watch out for include loss of appetite, weight loss, displays of abdominal discomfort and lack of grooming. Frequent, unproductive visits to the litter box are also a sign that your cat may be constipated. However, it’s important to note that a lot of these symptoms can be indicative of problems other than constipation.
Talk to your vet about treatment
If you are noticing some of the common symptoms of constipation in your cat, the best thing to do is take them to see your vet. That way you can be sure you’re getting the proper diagnosis and are treating the root cause of the problem.
One approach to managing your cat’s constipation is to use wet food or mixed dry and wet feeding. This gives your cat a considerable increase in their intake of water, which in turn helps combat your cat’s constipation by helping to lubricate the colon. For more serious instances and for treating chronic constipation, medication may be administered.
For cats suffering from acute constipation or generally having difficulty passing stools, improving the consistency of the stools and making bowel movements easier is key.
ROYAL CANIN®’s Gastro Intestinal range includes diets that are highly digestible, so only a small amount of remaining food needs to pass through the digestive tract. They also contain fibre that helps the passage of stools through the gut.