A sick-looking cat sits outside of a yellow litter box with a white lid.

Dyschezia (Painful Defecation) in Cats

Dyschezia is the medical term used to describe painful or difficult defecation. There are a variety of causes of dyschezia. Some cats have temporary dyschezia but in others, difficult defecation may represent a more severe illness. For this reason, dyschezia should not be ignored and should be addressed if it persists or worsens.

Painful defecation usually arises with some disorder of the colon or rectum. It can also occur when there is some physical impediment to defecation in the area of anus or perineum (area around the anus under the tail). Because the colon and rectum pass through the canal formed by the pelvic bones, fractures, dislocations and diseases of the pelvis may also result in dyschezia.

In the cat, dyschezia may be confused with pain upon urination (dysuria) or difficulty urinating (stranguria). Cats are very prone to lower urinary tract infections and disease, and in the male cat this may result in obstruction of the urinary tract. Cats that cannot urinate often have clinical signs that are easily mistaken for difficulty defecating, or for pain upon defecation. Such signs warrant immediate examination by your veterinarian, as urinary tract obstruction can be rapidly fatal.

Causes of Painful Defecation in Cats

The following conditions may lead your cat to suffer from painful defecation:

Dyschezia Symptoms

Cat owners concerned about painful defecation should watch out for the following warning signs:

Diagnosis of Dyschezia in Cats

To diagnose dyschezia and/or determine the underlying cost, your veterinarian may conduct some or all of the following examinations:

Treatment of Dyschezia in Cats

There are several things your veterinarian might prescribe to treat your pet symptomatically; however, depending on the underlying cause of dyschezia, a more specific therapy may be recommended. Here are a few procedures your cat may undergo as treatment for their dyschezia:

Home Care for Cats with Dyschezia

Administer any prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian. Follow dietary recommendations and observe your cat’s general activity and appetite. Watch closely for the presence of blood in the stool or a worsening of signs. If pseudocoprostatis was the source of the dyschezia, then continue to cut or clip the hair from away from the anal area, especially in longhaired cats.