Constipation is just as uncomfortable for cats as it is for people. If you’ve noticed that your cat is acting strangely around mealtimes or that their litter box habits have drastically changed, it’s possible that your cat is dealing with constipation.
Constipation doesn’t always refer to a complete lack of bowel movements. Dry bowel movements, pain when passing bowel movements, and bowel movements that are unusually small are also considered to be constipation.
If your cat is constipated, make an appointment with your veterinarian — addressing the potential causes of constipation and treating constipation are important to restore your cat’s digestive health and ease their discomfort.
Signs Your Cat is Constipated
If you’re concerned that your cat may be constipated, you’ve probably noticed some signs or changes in their behavior. These are typically easy to spot, and they’re nearly identical to the signs of constipation in humans, provided you swap the term “litter box” with the word “toilet.”
Abdominal Sensitivity or Pain
Constipation can cause bloating in the abdomen. If your cat usually enjoys belly rubs but has developed a sudden aversion, this could be a sign that something is causing pain in their abdomen. If your cat won’t jump up to their favorite spot to watch the room, is taking caution during play, or is laying on their side, this could be a sign of constipation.
Changes in Eating Habits
Constipation causes bloating, and when your cat is bloated, they may not be very hungry. If your cat isn’t tempted by their favorite treats or lacks enthusiasm at meal time, this indicates that something is wrong with the way your cat’s appetite and digestion are functioning. This may not always be related to constipation, but it’s likely linked to constipation if this sign comes in conjunction with other signs of constipation.
Changes in Litter Box Habits
Constipated cats will still go to the litter box because they need to urinate. Rather than spending less time at the litter box, your constipated cat may be spending more time at the litter box. Your cat might be more vocal when in the litter pan, as attempting to use it might cause discomfort.
Checking after your cat leaves the litter box will tell you the full story. If there’s a wet spot that doesn’t appear to contain any blood or isn’t darker in color, this means your cat likely isn’t having any trouble urinating. Examining the solids will give you more answers.
Hard or Small Stools
If the litter box contains far less stool than usual, this is a telltale sign of constipation. If your cat isn’t defecating, they’re constipated for one reason or another. If the stools are tiny, hard, or dry, this also indicates constipation. Some constipated cats will produce mostly liquid stools that mimic diarrhea. This is because the force of trying to expel the feces causes fluid to leak from the intestine while the solids are left behind.
Causes of Constipation in Cats
Constipation is not always a sign of a serious problem, although you shouldn’t be quick to write the situation off as normal. Your cat is uncomfortable and needs some help for their health and comfort.
If your cat isn’t getting enough water, they won’t have enough water in their digestive tract to stimulate a healthy and comfortable bowel movement. Make sure your cat has access to clean, fresh water. Bowls should be changed and cleaned daily.
If you have a cat that prefers circulating water (for example, if your cat is more interested in drinking from the running tap), invest in a cat fountain to keep the water in motion. It’s worth the investment if it encourages your cat to drink.
If you’ve recently changed foods or introduced new treats to your cat, it may not be agreeing with their system. Wet foods may be easier for cats to digest due to their high moisture content. Switch to wet food or undo any changes you might have made to your cat’s diet.
If your cat has recently ingested human food, this can indicate a serious problem. Many human foods are dangerous for cats to eat. If your cat is showing signs of digestive upset after eating people food, this requires an urgent trip to the vet. Your cat may have an intestinal blockage.
If your cat’s litter box is dirty or if too many cats share the litter box, your cat will be averse to going or may be finding a different place to go. You might discover that your cat found a corner in the garage or a spot under a bed to discreetly eliminate. If your cat is neat and obedient, they might be holding it in too long and causing constipation or impaction.
Getting your cat their own litter box and cleaning it twice daily may encourage them to regularly use it. Placing them alone in a room without any other animals can encourage them to use the box as well.
Underlying Health Issues
Underlying health issues are the most serious cause of feline constipation. Issues with stomach, colon, intestinal, or kidney health can contribute to constipation. These issues require prompt veterinary intervention.
Treating Constipation in Cats
If common and simple remedies like prioritizing wet food, water intake, and clean litter boxes don’t encourage your cat to pass stool, don’t give your cat oil or laxatives to attempt to produce a bowel movement.
If there’s an impaction or another health issue at play, these things may cause more harm than good. You need to take your cat to a vet to properly address the situation, especially if your cat has been constipated for several days.
Even if home remedies treat the constipation, the constipation is only a symptom of a larger problem that requires immediate attention and effective treatment. You shouldn’t take chances with the health of your animal. Your vet will be able to determine the things your cat can’t tell you.
Your Cat’s Wellness is Important
Cats seem to have as many needs as children. You’re responsible for their meals, their grooming, their cleanliness, and their healthcare. If you notice that your cat may be constipated, you’ll need to use your best judgement regarding what to do. If you can't spot and remedy a clear cause for the constipation or if it doesn’t quickly respond to at-home methods of treatment, you need to bring your cat to a vet.
At VETCBD Hemp, we’re a team of experienced veterinarians. We have firsthand experience promoting the wellness of all animals. That’s why we’ve formulated a pet-friendly, third party lab tested CBD extract to support your cat’s wellness. CBD can be used to support GI health in cats, as well as to support joint mobility and nervous system health. It’s also a valuable tool for helping to manage normal stress in cats.
CBD is not a replacement for proper veterinary care. It works in conjunction with proper veterinary care as an additional wellness supplement. Listen to the advice of your vet, and if appropriate, add CBD to your cat’s wellness routine to help support their GI health.