Cats can become constipated for a number of different reasons. Just like humans, cats can experience digestive problems due to improper diets, dehydration, stress, or underlying medical causes. In addition, felines sometimes swallow indigestible hair when they lick themselves, which can cause significant blockages. A seemingly constipated cat may simply be protesting a dirty litter box, holding in its stools until the box gets a proper cleaning. Fortunately, there are many easy home remedies that an owner can try to relieve symptoms in a constipated cat, including changing his food, providing extra water, brushing him regularly, and keeping its litter box clean.
A cat's food may not be providing enough fiber or nutrients to keep its gastrointestinal system working properly. Many popular cat food brands offer products that are specifically designed to promote digestive health, including foods that are high in fiber or specially designed to control hairballs. Pet owners should note that it usually takes few days of eating a new food for a cat's intestines to get back into sync.
Dehydration is a leading cause of constipation in humans and cats alike. When a cat does not drink enough water, its body draws excess moisture from the intestines, leaving stools hard, dry, and difficult to pass. It is important to provide plenty of fresh, clean water for a constipated cat so that it can recover from dehydration. Many veterinarians also encourage owners supplement their cats' diets with moist food to increase their fluid intake.
A cat owner can further relieve his feline's constipation symptoms by brushing her and maintaining a clean, comfortable litter box. Regular brushing gets rid of excess fur that might otherwise be licked and swallowed by the kitty, resulting in digestive problems, hairballs, and constipation. It is common for cats to withhold using their litter boxes if they are dirty or in a heavily trafficked area. An owner should keep a litter box for every cat in the household, scoop the boxes once a day, and ensure that they are placed in a private, quiet area of the house.
A constipated cat that does not respond to home remedies should be taken to a veterinarian, who can check for medical problems and determine the most appropriate treatment plan. The veterinarian will conduct a physical examination and possibly take x-rays of the constipated cat's intestines. He or she might recommend a prescription laxative or stool softener, give the cat an enema, or perform surgery to remove impacted bowels. Most veterinarians suggest that owners closely monitor their cats in the days following treatment and schedule regular checkups to ensure their well-being. With a combination of home remedies, medical treatment, and follow-up care, most cats are able to recover from their symptoms within a few days.