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Chronic Constipation in Cats

Chronic constipation in cats refers to a persistent and recurring difficulty in passing stools. It is a common gastrointestinal problem seen in feline companions however most cases are seen in middle aged male cats. Along with the condition being common, it also is known to have various underlying causes. Prompt treatment is recommended to prevent the condition from progressing. Here’s some information about chronic constipation in cats.

Possible Causes

There are a number of conditions that can lead to constipation. They range from physical to biochemical. In other words it is extremely important to find and treat the cause to try to prevent the constipation from recurring. Here are a few causes:

  1.     Dehydration: Insufficient water intake can lead to hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
  2.     Diet: Low-fiber diets, inadequate dietary fiber, or a sudden change in diet can contribute to constipation.
  3.     Lack of exercise: Cats that lead a sedentary lifestyle may experience decreased intestinal motility, leading to constipation.
  4.     Obesity: Overweight cats are more prone to constipation due to reduced muscle tone in the digestive tract.
  5.     Hairballs: Frequent hair ingestion and inadequate grooming can lead to the formation of hairballs, which may obstruct the intestinal passage.
  6.     Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions like pelvic injuries, spinal cord problems, megacolon (an enlarged colon), tumors, and anal gland disease can cause chronic constipation.

Things To Watch For

Just as with the causes, there are a number of different symptoms that can indicate constipation. Some of these are listed below.

  1.     Infrequent or small stools
  2.     Straining in the litter box (not to be confused with straining to urinate)
  3.     Painful defecation
  4.     Presence of blood in the stool
  5.     Loss of appetite
  6.     Lethargy or decreased activity levels
  7.     Abdominal discomfort or bloating
  8.     Vomiting (in severe cases when the constipation causes an obstruction)

Treatment and Management

Due to there being multiple causes of constipation, there are multiple ways to treat the condition. The course of treatment will depend on the severity of the situation and the ease with which normal GI function resumes. These are some of the possible courses of treatment.

  1.     Dietary changes: Increasing dietary fiber by feeding high-fiber cat foods or adding fiber supplements can help soften the stools and improve bowel movements.
  2.     Increased water intake: Encouraging your cat to drink more water can help prevent dehydration and soften the stool. This can be achieved by using water fountains or wetting dry food.
  3.     Laxatives or stool softeners: Under veterinary guidance, laxatives or stool softeners may be prescribed to aid in bowel movements. These should only be used as directed, as long-term use can lead to dependence.
  4.     Enemas: In severe cases, a veterinarian may administer enemas to relieve the constipation.
  5.     Weight management and exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight and promoting regular exercise can improve overall gastrointestinal health and prevent constipation.
  6.     Hairball prevention: Regular grooming and the use of hairball remedies can reduce hair ingestion and subsequent constipation.
  7.     Medical intervention: In cases of underlying medical conditions, the primary cause of constipation may need to be addressed. This could involve surgery, medication, or other treatments.

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your cat is experiencing chronic constipation. They can perform a thorough examination, recommend appropriate diagnostic tests, and provide a tailored treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs.