Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Scoop on Feline Constipation

I realize that feline constipation isn't the most appealing topic of discussion, but for anyone who owns or even occasionally cares for a cat, it's an important one.  And we all know how much I love to talk about poop!!

Here's the thing about cats and their poop.  They are unique, complex creatures, and things can go from bad to worse very quickly, which is why it's so important to scoop your cat's litterbox daily, and to have someone else do the same when you're away.  Monitoring your cat's litter is the only way to ensure that everything is functioning as it should.

Lack of turds in the box is a no-brainer, but constipated cats may also show other signs that something is wrong, like straining, lethargy, vomiting, bloating and lack of appetite.  While an occasional brief period of constipation may not be worth panicking over (see my tip on prevention below), if you notice that your cat has been exhibiting any of these symptoms, and the letterbox is empty, take him to the vet!  Constipation in cats can be quite dangerous, so don't delay.

Factors that may contribute to constipation:

- gorging (cats should ideally have several small meals throughout the day)

- inactivity

- obesity

- dehydration

- existing medical conditions like hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, etc. 

Adding a small amount of plain canned pumpkin to your cat's existing diet is an easy way to prevent constipation, but it may not be enough in all cases.  Somewhere around 1/2 teaspoon per meal (introduced very slowly) usually does the trick… don't want to overdo it, since a fibre overdose might send the food through your cat's digestive tract a little too quickly, and some cats' systems need more time to absorb the nutrients from the food.  Cat grass provides fibre too, and is readily available at most pet stores….you can even grow it yourself!  Of course, my cats prefer to dig out the cat grass rather than eat it, and then spread the dirt all over my floor, but hopefully your cats aren't brats like mine.  And if you really want to go for it, add a daily abdominal massage to your cat's routine…..he'll either love it or hate it, but it sure gets the ol' pipes a-movin'!

There are lots of websites out there dedicated to pet health, but this is THE go-to resource for Feline Constipation.  It is full of information and extremely helpful tips.  Take a few minutes to at least scan all of the pages….you never know - it could save your cat's life.

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