Feline constipation, which results in a cat having infrequent movements of his/her bowels and leads to dry, hard stools that are difficult to pass and cause a great deal of discomfort.
It is a very common problem, especially for senior cats.
Constipation is often a sign of other bowel related problems and in and of itself is not a serious disease.
Cats suffering from constipation can easily recover from the problem with proper attention and will not necessarily experience it again.
Constipation in a cat has many causes and as a general rule, takes place when a normal bowel movement is disrupted for one reason or another.
The main causes of constipation include dietary problems and foreign (or environmental) bodies that cannot be expelled easily from the body, (such as fur, bones, string, etc.)
that are painful and are the direct result of a rectal or anal disease;
obstructions such as tumors (possibly related to cat leukemia,) or old pelvic fractures, and neurological causes such as spinal cord damage, paralysis, and megacolon can also be a cause. Also see Feline Leukemia Symptoms
It is important to make sure a cat always has lots of fresh, clean drinking water and it may be helpful to increase the fiber in a cat's regular diet.
Megacolon refers to the "condition of the extreme colonic dilation, and is a disorder of the structure and function of the colon."
It is worth noting that a feline suffering from megacolon is constantly unable to pass stools, however this is only one of many causes of constipation in cats.
Other causes include metabolic and hormonal concerns such as low potassium, problems due to medication the cat is taking and intestinal scars that were caused by injuries the cat sustained in the past.
The most common causes of feline constipation include the ingesting too much fur, obstructive problems and neurological problems.
If constipation or a complete failure to pass a bowel movement goes on for more than a few days, the cat should be taken to the veterinarian right away. Lack of attention to this matter could lead to serious health problems.
A number of different constipation treatments can be employed when a cat is in discomfort.
It may be necessary to restore the fluid and electrolytes that have been lost due to the constipation and to bring the balance back under control. This may help to remove, or at least control, the underlying reason the condition began in the first place.
There are a variety of cathartic medications and laxatives that can be prescribed for constipated cats.
Generally cathartic drugs are more extreme on the system and may cause the opposite result of constipation - Diarrhea.
On the other hand, laxatives are gentler in nature and usually cause the passage of bowel movements in a natural way.
Animals suffering from constipation are sometimes administered enemas in order to sufficiently clean out their bowels.
Other treatments that are sometimes undertaken are to put a cat on a dosage of antibiotics or nerve stimulants and/or manual removal of feces that are trapped in the bowels.
When special medications fail to bring about the desired result, sometimes extreme measures in the form of surgery must be taken.
A variety of things can be done at home in order to help a cat get over a bout of constipation and to help avoid a re occurrence of the problem.
It is important to make sure a cat always has lots of fresh, clean drinking water and it is essential to increase the fiber in a cat's regular diet.
Just as some people need plenty of bulk in their diets, so do some felines. Supplement a cat's daily diet with bran, Metamucil or canned pumpkin (approximately one tablespoon per day).
Keep in mind however that not all cats respond well to an increase in the fiber in their diets.
Some show no improvement whatsoever while others actually suffer adverse effects that can be very detrimental.
Other forms of treatment that are helpful include brushing or combing a cat on a regular basis to get rid of dead or loose fur and thus to reduce the incidence of hairballs in the intestine, and to make sure his or her litter box is cleaned as often as possible.
Changing the brand of litter too often is not advisable as it can disturb a cat very much.
It is important for a cat to get plenty of exercise, whether it stays inside or goes out. Playing and running inside a home constitutes exercise.
Cat constipation remedies that can be helpful include slippery elm bark, Avena sativa (oats) and Aloe Ferox. Slippery elm bark powder (ulmus rubra or ulmus fulva) is excellent in the treatment of feline constipation as it serves to coat the stomach lining and reduces irritation.
Avena sativa is a herb made from whole wild oats that is effective at relieving the symptoms of constipation while Aloe Ferox, which dates back as early as 1500 BC, is known as a natural cleanser for the digestive tract.
This page is informational only. Always follow the advice of your veterinarian.
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