Cat Constipation Symptoms

Cat constipation is rare, but is often easy to treat with dietary changes. Cats can get constipated for a number of reasons, most of which aren't serious. However, chronic constipation can lead to a build up of toxins in your cat's body, and make him sick. Here's what you should know about recognizing and treating feline constipation.

Causes of Cat Constipation

Constipation in cats is usually the result of dietary problems. Constipated cats may not be eating enough fiber or they may be eating too much fiber. They may not be getting enough exercise, or they may be experiencing intestinal blockage due to fur balls. Intestinal worms can cause constipation symptoms, and the symptoms of bladder infection can be mistaken for those of constipation.

Symptoms of Feline Constipation

Your cat should have one or two bowel movements every day. When constipated, some cats have more bowel movements, but produce much smaller amounts of stool than usual each time. Other cats may stop having bowel movements altogether, or go for a long time between bowel movements. 

If your cat is constipated, he'll strain to move his bowels. There could be mucous or blood in his stools, and his stools may be much smaller and harder than usual. Your cat may experience abdominal bloating and discomfort as well as a loss of appetite. 

Seek veterinary care if your cat's constipation symptoms last more than a few days. Take a stool sample to your appointment so that your vet can test for intestinal worms.

If your cat is severely constipated, has stopped having bowel movements altogether and is vomiting, it could indicate an intestinal blockage. Fur balls are a common culprit in intestinal blockage, and your cat may need surgery to remove the blockage. Intestinal blockages constitute a medical emergency; seek veterinary care right away if you believe your cat may have an intestinal blockage.

Diagnosing Cat Constipation

Your vet will perform a full physical exam, including X-rays, to determine the cause of your cat's constipation. X-rays rule out the possibility of intestinal blockage, a common cause of cat constipation that could be the result of fur balls getting stuck in the intestine, or of your cat eating an indigestible foreign object. If you know your cat likes to chew and eat indigestible things, tell your vet.

Treating Feline Constipation

Treatment for feline constipation depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Intestinal blockages can cause constipation, and they need to be treated right away, since they're life threatening. Your vet will need to perform surgery to remove an intestinal blockage, but if the blockage has occurred low enough in the colon, your vet will be able to remove it through your cat's rectum, thereby rendering the surgery less painful and the recovery time shorter.

If your cat's constipation is severe but there is no blockage, your vet may prescribe a laxative and recommend a high fiber diet. The mildest cases of constipation can be treated by feeding your cat a tablespoon of canned pumpkin two or three times a day for two weeks.