Constipation is a digestive disorder that is extremely common in cats, and is often a condition that is seen in older cats. When a cat is unable to evacuate its bowels, the feces remain in the colon. The fecal matter dries up as a result of the colon absorbing the water in the fecal material, thus resulting in the formation of hard dry matter. When a cat is constipated their bowel movements are infrequent or difficult to pass. It is an uncomfortable, but common problem that can be easily treated and resolved in all but the most serious of cases.
A healthy cat has one to two stools a day. A constipated cat is one that has a bowel movement every two to three days and is straining to pass stools.
Constipation has many causes from inadequate water consumption to the ingestion of indigestible materials such as bone chips, hairballs, grass, cloth, and paper. Some drugs used to treat a variety of disorders can also cause constipation.
Certain cats can develop a conditional known as megacolon. This is seen in cats that have long term and severe constipation (obstipation). The cause of megacolon is unknown; it is an enlarged intestine that is unable to contract due to a muscle strength defect in the colon that prevents or inhabits bowel movement.
Cats that suffer from CRF (chronic renal failure) may be prone to constipation. Longhaired felines are susceptible to constipation caused by hairballs. If the cat is vomiting hair or you find hair in the stools this may be the cause thus treatment for hairballs should be considered.
- absence of bowel moments
- painful defecation
- obvious discomfort
- loss of appetite
Constipation can be confused with colitis therefore it is important to visit your vet to rule this possibility out.
To prevent constipation, provide your cat with plenty of water and limit their access to foreign objects, such as bones. Cats are not no know to be big water drinkers, trying to encourage them to drink water will help. A high fiber diet will be beneficial and consider a wet food diet. Never treat your cat with human over the counter laxatives as these pose extreme danger to your cat.