Dr. Debra Primovic discusses treatment for feline constipation.

Ask Dr. Debra: Relief for a Constipated Cat

This Week’s Question:

My cat seems to be constipated. He is 13 years old and this just started yesterday. What can I do for him?

Ken Cooper

Dr. Debra’s Answer:

Hi Ken,

Thank you for the question about your 13-year-old cat that seems to be constipated. My first concern is that the cat may instead be having urinary problems. It can be very difficult to tell the difference when a cat is straining. Some urinary problems, such as a urinary obstruction, can be life-threatening, hence the unease.

The best thing to do is have your cat evaluated by your veterinarian to ensure that constipation is the problem, determine the underlying cause, and plot out the best course of treatment. Constipation in cats can be caused by diet, a physical blockage, side effects from medication, or by a variety of metabolic, endocrine, and neurological diseases.

Changes to Diet and Increased Hydration

If your cat is indeed constipated, the best thing to do at home to help is make sure that they are eating and drinking water. You can boost water intake by offering canned food, adding additional water to canned food, offering juice from water-packed tuna or chicken, providing extra water bowls around the house, adding ice cubes to water, or providing a fountain. Exercise is also beneficial to encourage regular bowel movements. Some veterinarians recommend adding a small amount of pumpkin to the diet as a bulking agent. Stool softeners, such as docusate sodium, may also be prescribed by your veterinarian. Cats that are severely constipated may require hospitalization with fluids and manual removal of feces. Learn more about constipation in cats here.

Signs that you need to immediately see your veterinarian include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, or prolonged straining.

We hope that these tips help you and your cat.

With warm regards,

Dr. Debra

Please note: Dr. Debra’s guidance should not be considered veterinary advice like that provided by your veterinarian, since she is unable to personally examine your pet. If you have an immediate concern or emergency, contact a veterinarian or local veterinary hospital about your specific situation.