Is Your Cat Pooping Regularly? - Feline ConstipationPublished June 13, 2012
While cat poop may not be an exciting or glamorous topic, it is one of the most essential parts of feline care.
The more knowledgeable we become about our cats' poop habits, and carefully monitor their “ins and outs” when scooping out our litter boxes, the easier it is to catch early warning signs that something may be amiss.
Ideally, cats should poop daily. So when a cat stops pooping regularly or defecates only every two to four days, or if changes occur in the appearance of the feces, special attention must be paid to these symptoms.
Since feline constipation is fairly common and it is caused by such a wide variety of factors, I asked the internationally acclaimed veterinarian, Dr. Jean Hofve, who is recognized for her expertise in holistic feline veterinary medicine, to shed some light on the subject.
Cat Constipation Symptoms
Common signs of constipation are incomplete, infrequent, or difficult defecation. Cats that are constipated often strain to poop; passing dry or hard bowel movements. Other signs include swelling around the anus, poor or complete loss of appetite, lethargy and occasional vomiting.
Constipation can lead to obstipation, a serious condition in which the colon is entirely blocked with feces. Cats with an extended retention of dry, hard bowel movements, find it almost impossible to defecate. These cats may attempt to poop outside the litter box because they associate the box with pain. The most serious complication of obstipation is Megacolon, in which the damage to the nerves and muscles in the colon cause an inability to defecate.
Cats may develop pooping problems from a wide variety of conditions ranging from something as simple as a dirty litter box, to dehydration, an obstruction, a pelvic injury, neurological problems, pain (especially in the low back) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Since Dr. Hofve personally has never seen constipation problems in cats who are not fed dry food, she feels it’s only logical that diet plays an important part in its development. This said, while uncommon, cats that receive a diet of only moist foods may also become constipated.
To avoid constipation in cats who are fed low fiber diets, (such as found in most canned cat foods, home-made and raw diets), supplemental fiber may be helpful. According to Dr. Hofve, what works well is adding a pinch of ground flaxseeds, ground chia seeds (aka Salba) or psyllium, since they are reasonably palatable.
For constipated kitties water balance is essential. To boost hydration, most veterinarians will give constipated cats subcutaneous (or even intravenous) fluids. Treatment for constipated cats depends on how serious the problem is. Mild cases may be treated with an occasional enema, but for severe blockages manual extraction of the feces may be necessary, requiring sedation.
Many cats are couch potatoes. Physical exercise on a regular basis stimulates peristalsis, helping feces to move through the colon.
Since many cats don't drink enough water to keep themselves hydrated, constipation may develop. For cats who avoid water like the late comedian W.C. Fields, Dr. Hofve suggests they may be enticed to up their water-intake with the use of a pet fountain. Since some of the less expensive fountains are made of plastic, are noisy and hard to clean, Dr. Hofve recommends the ceramic Glacier Point Fountain for Cats which is much easier to clean.
To get the full scoop on cat poop, read Dr. Hofve’s excellent article Constipated Cats. Dr. Hofve’s remarkable website, Little Big Cat, contains dozens of fascinating and helpful articles of interest to feline lovers.
How do you handle feline poop problems? Share in a comment.