Do cats get constipated?

Have you ever noticed your cat straining and crouching on the litter box? Does the pet look antsy? Or is the pet crying whenever it tries to defecate? Not many cat owners are aware that the pet, just like them can get constipated too. Humans can take medications that will provide relief from the discomfort of constipation. This is not so with cats. The pet will suffer from pain and discomfort especially if the cat owner has not noticed the condition of the pet. Cat owner must not ignore the pet’s defecating difficulties as chronic constipation can lead to the development of some serious health concerns.

Cats have different patterns of defecation. Some individuals would need to go twice a day. In other cats, defecating once a day or once every two days would still be normal. A constipated cat would not be able poop in two or more days although it will be seen repeatedly going to its litter box. It would infrequently pass stool and when it is able to defecate it will pass pebble-like hard and dry stool. How do cats get constipated? The colon which is the large muscular structure at the end of the intestinal tract contains the most number of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria that aid in the digestion process of proteins creates fatty acids that nourish the cells that lines the colon. Mucus is produced as a byproduct of the process. The mucus lubricates the stool for easy passage. However, some of the cells that line the colon will absorb water contained by the feces. A cat that was unable to defecate for 2 to 4 days would have a very dry and hard stool as the lining cells have already absorbed the stool’s water content. The longer the stool stays in the colon, the harder and dryer it would be thus defecating would even be more difficult for the pet.

A constipated cat repeatedly visits the litter box, would crouch and strain for longer periods but may not be able to pass stool. If ever some stool is passed, it would be small, dry and very hard. The hunched position when the cat tries to defecate is an indication that it is in pain. The cat would be lethargic because of the discomfort. Vomiting and loss of appetite are other signs that the cat is constipated. Surprisingly, a constipated cat may appear to have diarrhea. This happens when only the liquid stool can seep around the solid feces.

The cat’s constipation must not be ignored by the pet parents as aside from the discomfort and the pain the pet would go through, the difficulty in passing stool can lead to a more serious health concern. Chronic constipation would cause the abnormal enlargement of the colon thereby losing its ability to contract. This can result to obstipation, a condition where the gastrointestinal tract is totally blocked. Constipation is commonly caused by dehydration. Cats are not big on drinking water thus pets on a dry diet commonly gets constipated. Hairballs and diets that are low in fiber can also cause constipation. Dirty litter box can be the reason for the pet’s constipation as these animals would not use a dirty litter tray. The vet usually recommends laxatives, stool softeners and lubricants.

Constipation in cats can be prevented. The pet can be provided with a high fiber diet. Cats must be encouraged to drink by placing bowls of water around the house. Wet diet is recommended for cats that oftentimes get constipated. Hairballs that are not normally passed with the feces can cause constipation. Formation of hairballs can be prevented by grooming the cat regularly so that loose hair will be removed instead of being ingested when the cat grooms itself.