Ok, so I have a confession. A couple weeks ago we made a common cat parent mistake: We freaked out and ran to the vet because we had a scare with our Mr. Bittles. Two hundred and twenty one dollars later… It was cat constipation.
We should have known better… but many times these situations are unavoidable. In the case of Mr. Bittles, he seemed absolutely fine – except that we noticed a small amount of bright red blood in his stool and he was straining to poop in his litter box. Adrienne panicked and I brought him to the vet first thing the next morning.
While I considered the fact that he may be constipated, I noticed that his stool was runny – not hard… and when it was all said and done the problem was an obstruction that required an enema.
But here’s where it gets tricky for us cat parents… We run to the vet (usually already afraid of something) and are bombarded with blood tests, vaccine questions, x-rays, a list of horrifying possibilities and a huge bill.
The vet we visited wanted to give Mr. Bittles antibiotics along with a slew of other tests – even though the x-ray clearly showed the obstruction in his intestine (likely caused from too much fur and not enough moisture in his diet). The original estimate the vet came to me with was $584. I didn’t allow that. Cat constipation isn’t an illness that needs medications. An enema, maybe. But not antibiotics. And there are plenty of remedies you can give your cat to clear up this issue and not break your pocketbook like we did.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Constipated
Pay attention to your kitties’ pooping habits. Cats should poop every single day. If you keep the litter box scooped, you should be able to monitor this much easier. The stools should be brown, formed and sticky enough to cling to the litter in the box. If your cat is not pooping daily or there isn’t much to show for their efforts in the litter box, it’s possible that he could be constipated. If the turds are super hard and not sticky at all, this could be a sign that the constipation is beginning. And, of course, if your cat is crying while trying to poop – it’s probably cat constipation.
Reasons for Cat Constipation
The number one reason that cats suffer from constipation is dehydration. This is why we always suggest feeding cats a moist diet. They simply cannot make up for their needed intake of water at the water bowl. Cats who are only fed dry kibble are in a state of constant chronic dehydration and this will cause constipation at some point. Lack of exercise can also contribute to this.
Other, less common, reasons for cat constipation would be GI Tract problems, arthritic issues or if they eat a foreign object that gets stuck in the colon and causes an obstruction of their bowels.
Remedies for Cat Constipation
There are things that we can add to our cat’s food to help remedy cat constipation. These include pumpkin, coconut oil, coconut fiber, or even a natural laxative like aloe vera juice. The first step, however, should be to start adding more moisture to the diet. Canned foods or raw foods, fully balanced, should help keep the problem from coming back. Digestive enzymes are another option for overall colon health. Increasing their exercise routine will also help. I’ve also heard great results from cat parents who’ve used acupuncture to remedy cat constipation. All of these options should be less than what you will spend at the vet for the tests they’ll run to tell you your cat is constipated – and then try to give them medication that’s completely irrelevant to constipation.
In closing, if you are worried that your cat is constipated and has no other issues, try any or all of these options above. You may just find out that you’re the expert and feel more empowered to take different routes with your cats’ health in the future. 🙂