Help with cat constipation

Find what you need to know about cat and kitten constipation, its causes, symptoms and how it can be treated.

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It’s not unusual for a cat to be mildly constipated and it’s usually a situation that will sort itself out without you even knowing about it. But this can also be the problem, because if constipation becomes a more serious issue, as it sometimes can, you’re likely to remain in the dark. 

How can you tell whether your cat is constipated?

If your cat spends time outdoors it may not often use its litter tray, which makes it difficult for you to monitor regularity and stool consistency. These tend to be the most obvious giveaways of constipation in a cat – if your cat isn’t eliminating at least once a day, or if its stool is hard, dry or small, there may be a problem. 

If your cat does regularly use a litter tray, the things to look out for include:

  • Straining to defecate – while some straining is not unusual, if it seems to be making your cat uncomfortable, or if nothing is passed despite straining, then you might want to consult a vet. More importantly, straining may also signify difficulty in urinating, which is a much more serious, immediate problem. If you suspect the latter, you should get your cat to a vet straight away.
  • Passing just small amounts of liquid – this may contain mucus or blood and could indicate your cat is unable to pass a stool.

If it’s difficult to monitor your cat’s regularity, there are other indicators to watch out for:

  • Vomiting – while this may be caused by your cat over-eating or eating something that disagrees with it, vomiting can also occur if your cat is struggling to expel faeces.
  • Depression – this is a general sign that all is not right with your cat and can be shown by your cat becoming withdrawn and hiding away, not wanting to go out or being off its food. 

What causes cat constipation?

  • Dehydration – while the causes of cat constipation can vary, it most often comes down to the cat being dehydrated. Dehydration could be down to diet, whether too little fibre or not enough liquid. But illnesses like kidney disease could also be a factor. 
  • Pain – an older cat may suffer from arthritis which can make it uncomfortable to squat, making a cat reluctant to defecate. 
  • Blockage – the cause of a blockage could include a hairball, a tumour or problems with your cat’s anal glands. 

In all cases, if you suspect a problem your first stop should be the vet, who should be able to determine the precise cause and nature of the problem and suggest what action should be taken. 

How can cat constipation be treated?

The best treatment for cat constipation depends on your cat’s specific problem. Your vet might make dietary recommendations which could sort out the immediate problem and help prevent it happening again. They might also prescribe laxatives and stool softeners as a shorter-term solution. If none of these produces satisfactory results, an enema might be necessary.  

If an underlying illness is behind the problem, then that will need to be treated. In extreme cases, such as megacolon, where the large intestine stops functioning properly, surgery may be required.  

Again, if you have any concerns about your cat’s well-being, you should always consult your vet. Early diagnosis and intervention could save your cat stress and pain, and even save its life. Plus, even if it turns out there’s nothing wrong and your cat is just being a cat, it will still put your mind at rest. 

Pet Insurance could help with vet bills

Whatever your cat is being treated for, vet bills can soon mount up. As with all Pet Insurance policies, limitations and exclusions apply; Depending on the level of insurance you choose, our Pet Insurance could help you towards paying them.

Please note: Any illness, injury or condition that occurred before you take out a policy is known as a pre-existing condition. Any pre-existing condition will not be covered under the policy. Pet Insurance policies have an initial 14 days exclusion for illness claims so any claim starting before the policy or in the first 14 days will not be covered.  For more details please view our key documents.

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