Constipation in Cats


Constipation in Cats


Question: Thank you.

I am trying the Eukanuba Low Residue. She is not thrilled with it. She seems to like dry food -- it must have a more enticing odor. So I sprinkle a little dry on top of the Eukanuba.

Is Eukanuba preferred to Science Diet's low residue? If so, would you know why.

She is giving out some fecal matter and it's not hard.

I wonder if some fecal matter stays at the bottom of the colon and gradually builds up. Is that possible.

The specialist didn't seem to think that would be so, but I don't see why not.

The specialist have never recommended the low residue diet, not has the regular vet. I am not so pleased with them. I am thinking about taking her up to UC Davis ...

I am looking, really , for validation of my idea of some stuff staying in the colon and gradually building up.

Thanks again. Jill

Answer: Jill-

I am not aware of a low residue diet made by Hill's but there may be one. They change diet formulations pretty frequently and sometimes I am surprised to find they have had a new food for some months before I realize it.

I am not sure how to answer your question about whether or not a small amount of food could be retained by the colon and then build up into a problem because I am not sure whether you mean that there may be some residue in the colon long term (weeks or months) or whether you are referring to the way that the constipation builds up. It is generally agreed among veterinarians studying this problem that there is a motility disorder which causes the passage of food to slow, leading to dilation of the colon and eventually to the severe constipation that is seen. The question is whether or not this is a process in which the buildup of stool occurs for minor reasons but then becomes a major problem or whether there is a major problem that leads to the slow down and dilation and then constipation. At the present time, there is not a clear answer. So as far as I know, your theory may be right, as long as you are referring to a relatively short term process (several days), in which some fecal material doesn't get passed and then constipation develops and finally distention of the colon. On the other hand, I think the prevailing theory is that there is an underlying problem with the smooth muscle of the colon in the first place, since motility enhancing medications, such as cisapride (Propulsid Rx) seem to help number of cats with this problem who do not respond to dietary changes and the use of medications like lactulose.

If I missed the mark on what you are thinking, I will be glad to check into this again.

Mike Richards, DVM 1/23/2001

Mineral oil for constipation in siamese

Question: Hello Dr. Richards, I am a subscriber and am still having trying to find a solution to Gabberdean's constipation. Gabberdean is 14 years old, siamese. I have tried everything you suggested previously. I started giving him a little mineral oil and that is working! I have been told mineral oil is not good for cats. What do you think? Thank you~ ~Kathleen

Answer: Kathleen-

I know of no reason not to use mineral oil if it is helping. It is an ingredient in several of the hairball remedies made for cats and has been given to an awful lot of them. Would it be possible for you to let me know where you found the information suggesting it might be harmful so that I can review it?

If you have not tried ranitidine (Zantac Rx), it sometimes helps to promote movement of the stool through the colon. If not, it might be worth trying. The usual dose is 1 to 2mg/kg every 12 hours.

Another thing that can help a lot is to increase the amount of fluid intake. This can be done by giving canned food instead of dry food, adding water to food, using broths or other enticing liquids to get a cat to drink more or by giving fluids subcutaneously on a regular basis.

If mineral oil is helping I do not see any reason not to continue to use it.

Mike Richards, DVM 1/17/2001

A reason not to give Mineral Oil

Response: Michal, At <>, you wrote in an answer, "I know of no reason not to use mineral oil if it is helping. It is an ingredient in several of the hairball remedies made for cats and has been given to an awful lot of them. Would it be possible for you to let me know where you found the information suggesting it might be harmful so that I can review it?" Though I cannot speak for the original poster's source, I found this and wondered whether it might be helpful to you: "An old fashioned remedy has been the oral administration of mineral oil. It is best to avoid this temptation as mineral oil, being a light fluid without flavor, is easily inhaled accidentally into the respiratory tract. Since it is a mineral based compound, it cannot ever be removed by the body and the immune system will forever attempt to wall it off with inflammatory granulomas." This was found here: <>. Hope this is of help. Sidney Dr Wendy Brooks at Marvista vet the source of the information.


Answer: Hello Doctor, I am a subscriber and my 14 year old siamese Gabberdean is still having a constipation problem. I was giving him 3 cc lactulose twice a day( Tuesday & Wednesday he pottied, little Thursday & nothing Friday & Sat.) and Saturday he threw up the medication and the big meal he had just eaten. I stopped the lactulose and Sunday he seemed happier and ate well & went potty twice but the stool was very large & he strained a lot. This morning he seemed more alive and ate well. Doctor wanted to see him and he said there was a lot of stool. At the Doctor's office he was given 1/2 tablet propulsid. When I let him out of his carrier he climbed one flight of stairs & sat down. He was wobbly, would take couple steps & sit down. Now it is evening & he won't eat, he hides & faces the wall. I was suppose to give him another pill tonight. I called doctor & he told me not to give him another. He said to try lactulose again, maybe 2 cc. My thought is that Gabberdean is emotionally better without the medication but the stool is building up even though he does potty a little & will have to have another enema ( he has already had three in the last two months). Someone told me to give him butter. I started that Saturday. Do you have any more thoughts as to how to soften the stool so it can be passed? I give Gabberdean 1/4 cypro twice a day. I feed Felidae canned food and keep Felidae dry out but he doesn't eat too much dry. Doctor has mentioned surgery but he does not do it & he said if the cat were mine he wouldn't put the cat through it. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you Kathleen

Answer: Kathleen-

There are a several possible alternatives to cisapride (Propulsid Rx), if it bothers Gabberdean.

Ranitidine (Zantac Rx) and nizatidine (Axid Rx) are both supposed to have similar effects to Propulsid and may be acceptable substitutes.

Using a low residue diet is more commonly recommended now than using higher fiber diets. This does seem to help. The most commonly recommended one is Eukanuba Low Residue Feline (tm). Your vet can order this for you.

With the wobbly behavior signs it might be a good idea to check blood glucose and blood potassium levels (or just a general blood chemistry panel) to be sure that there isn't a new or secondary problem developing, too. Even though it does seem most likely to have been from the medications since it isn't ongoing.

Hope this helps some.

Mike Richards, DVM 6/10/2000

Last edited 01/04/04


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...