How to Treat Cats With Constipation

By Jodi Thornton O'Connell

If you find hard stool with flecks of blood when you're cleaning out the litter box, your cat may have constipation. Some cats whine when straining to pass stool or have stool dangling under their tails as they emerge from the litter box. Chronic constipation can signify a more serious underlying health problem and should be brought to your veterinarian's attention.

Keep Him Hydrated

Your vet may recommend something as simple as increasing your pet's hydration by setting out more water or giving veterinary electrolyte formula. If your cat eats dry food, he's more prone to constipation than a cat who eats wet food due to the decreased moisture content. Your vet will do a simple test to determine your cat's hydration level by pinching a fold of skin on his shoulders and pulling up. If it snaps back into place when released, he's well hydrated. The slower it returns to place, the more dehydrated he is.

Food for Thought

Your vet will ask you if your cat's diet consists solely of cat food or if he eats animals he hunts. Cats who catch birds, lizards or other wild creatures around the yard sometimes get constipated from digesting feathers, scales, bones and other items unusual to their diet. In addition, hairballs swallowed when your cat grooms himself with his tongue cause similar problems. Your vet may recommend adding olive oil to your cat's food to move things along gently, or he may prescribe a strong stool softener or laxative to stimulate the process.

Bulking Up

Should your veterinarian feel your cat's constipation is due to a diet lacking in fiber, he'll recommend adding it to your cat's diet to bulk up his stool and make it easier to pass. He may recommend adding a dietary fiber supplement into wet cat food each day to increase fiber intake, or introducing foods with high fiber content such as canned pumpkin or bran cereal. If your cat enjoys variety in his diet, ask your vet about adding additional fiber with shredded carrots or apples.

More Than Plugged Up

Sometimes constipation is the result of underlying health conditions such as an enlarged prostate gland, an intestinal obstruction or a cancerous growth. If your cat hasn't passed excrement in four days, your vet will take more drastic measures such as giving him a feline enema or a manual bowel evacuation. X-rays, ultrasounds and an internal examination with an endoscope help your vet diagnose the cause of the problem. In some situations, surgery is the only remedy to remove foreign objects or other obstructions preventing your cat from passing his feces.