Is My Cat Constipated?

Learn how to treat your cat’s constipation.

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Q: My 14-year-old orange tabby has never had any problems, but lately, when she goes into the litterbox and tries to move her bowels, she just urinates. Nothing in her diet has changed. Is she constipated? How do your treat that?

A: Sometimes when a cat is straining in the litterbox, it can be hard to determine whether the cat is straining to urinate or defecate. Because you’ve observed that she is urinating, it sounds like a constipation problem. Take your cat to the veterinarian to make sure that this is simple constipation, and not a more serious condition called megacolon, in which the colon loses the ability to contract and propel the feces.
Sometimes cats become constipated from swallowing excessive hair during grooming. Other times, they become constipated for no apparent reason. Try administering one of the hairball remedies, such as Laxatone or Petromalt to your cat. When given two or three times a week, these products are effective at hairball prevention. When given every day, they work well as stool softeners. If these products do not help, a change in diet might be warranted. Your veterinarian can advise you in this regard. I’ve had excellent success using the Low Residue diet made by the Iams Company. If constipation continues to be a problem, more potent medications, such as lactulose and cisapride, might be best.

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Is My Cat Constipated?

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Reader Comments

JD Perez    Antioch, CA

9/21/2015 2:18:08 AM

My 23 year old female cat is constipated. Over the course of a few days she has pooped just little stringy poopies. I took her to the vet and the vet inserted her finger in her anus to feel for masses or tumors and didn't find anything. She told me to give her canned pumpkin but that is not working. If there anything else that I can do to alleviate her and have her be able to do her poop?

Krysia    International

9/1/2013 1:19:16 PM

If you give your cat flea drops, try stopping them. They were the cause of my cats recurrent constipation.

P    Toronto, ON

8/17/2011 2:03:35 PM

1-2 teaspoons of canned 'pure' unseasoned pumpkin found in the baking section of the supermarket(NOT pie filling) mixed with wet cat food will do the trick to relieve constipation. You can freeze it ice cube trays and store in bag for daily use. You can also make your own from fresh pumpkin. Take your pet to the vet immediately if few days have passed without a bowel movement especially if the cat is vomiting.

joe    charlotte, NC

1/19/2011 4:12:45 PM

This is for all the helpful info on cat constipation that I researched on the internet. I have no time to post more than once and hope to "pass the buck" as they say. Here is my story please share with the distressed cat constipated community and ask those to pass it on. Ok, my male cat (junior) up to about 7-8 years old was an inside outside cat, very healthy. I moved into an second floor apartment for a short time and he one day jumped off the balcony and fell 20ish feet. No visible problems. Within days a stray found me and I took him in. Surprisingly the cats got along, but now there was two cats using letterboxes. Week or so later I found junior struggling to poo. First edema, He went poo but for two years he kept getting constipated over and over. He had at least 20 vet edemas, 4-6 manual extractions. I tried everything, lactulose, pumpkin, soupy food, no dry food, mineral oil on and on. Than I had scheduled an appointment with a surgeon to get part of his colon removed. I backed out last minute and seen a different vet, not that mine was bad, I just needed another option. Now this is important, I didn't know if a) he had nerve damage, b) going in a litter box problem, c) mega colon. The new vet gave me a combination of medications that worked now for 2 months and he is now only on one over the counter laxative. His poo is now soft yet not too soft, other words perfect. This was my miracle solution. He was on for one full week, ( colace - docusate sodium, 50 mg capsules, one capsule twice a day ). ( cisapride 2.5 mg capsules I was told to give one capsule three times a day, I gave one capsule twice a day ). And then ( Miralax - 1/2 tsp with food twice a day ). He is now only on the mirilax and doing great. Also changed his food to at least 5% crude fat cat food mixed with some water, not soupy but kind of wet. Please share this solution.

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