By Marlene Wallace
Beautiful, graceful and slightly enigmatic, it is no easy task identifying what particular kinds of discomfort our beloved felines are experiencing. There are actually several different definitions and possible signs and symptoms of constipation in cats including the following:
- Infrequent as well as often partial bowel movements.
- Dry, hardened stools.
- Straining when passing a bowel movement.
- Vomiting during and/or after having gone to the bathroom.
- Change in the frequency of a cat’s bowel movements.
- Liquid stool, coming from above, leaks past impacted stool (i.e. dried stool stuck within the intestines) giving the appearance that the cat actually has diarrhea instead.
- When your furry companion has bowel movements outside of its litter box, it can be a signal of constipation.
- Seeing blood and/or mucus in your pet’s droppings.
- Any noticeable changes in the color and/or appearance of a cat’s stool.
It is important to note that when your pet is straining to urinate, it can sometimes be confused with straining to pass a stool. If a cat is unable to urinate, it is considered to be a medical emergency. The cat should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Not only is constipation extremely uncomfortable for cats, it is also very unhealthy and dangerous for them. Constipation may be a symptom of a more serious underlying disease and/or illness. It can either be temporary (i.e. acute) or ongoing (i.e. chronic). Several causes of constipation in cats include:
- Consuming a diet low in fiber.
- Presence of hairballs within the intestines.
- Excessive grooming.
- Abscessed and/or blocked anal sacs.
- Enlargement of the prostate gland in male cats.
- Tangled hair on the feline’s buttocks (a problem that is easily remedied with our cat grooming products).
- Ingestion of various foreign objects including things like cloth, string and/or bones, etc.
- Medication side effects.
- Presence of a tumor and/or some other type of intestinal obstruction.
- Presence of a neurologic disorder.
- Feline obesity.
- Abnormally shaped colon.
- Abnormal motility of the colon.
How to Treat an Acutely Constipated Cat:
If your cat has an acute bout of constipation, contact your vet right away. While there are many laxatives available, be vigilant to use versions specifically designed to give to cats. They are extremely sensitive animals and can easily be poisoned by certain types of human treatments. Constipation treatments need to be effective as well as very safe for use over the long term.
Lactulose for cats acts as an osmotic laxative. A thick, sweet liquid, it is a type of indigestible sugar. By-products of gut bacteria aid in the regulation of colon pH. The latter is what influences the amount of water retained within the stool. This particular laxative also influences the bowel pH. It has a slightly acidic effect which causes water retention and therefore increases the stool volume.
Requiring a prescription from your vet, the goal of Lactulose is a normal, soft stool rather than flushing out your cat. Hence, it should be used as a preventative treatment. If your cat actually has impacted stool, this type of laxative is not appropriate until the impaction is dealt with.