Sometimes just a change in diet can relieve chronic constipation in cats.
Inappropriate diet, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, obesity, dehydration and even a litter box that’s not cleaned often enough can lead to chronic constipation in cats. Other causes are pain and some medications. Symptoms include straining in the litter box, less frequent or no bowel movements and hard, dry stools. Untreated constipation in cats can lead to obstipation, which is a serious health issue. While prescription medications can help chronic constipation in cats, natural cures are gentler and can be just as effective.
Slippery Elm Bark
The mucilage in slippery elm bark becomes a slick gel when mixed with water and coats, soothes and lubricates the mucus membranes of a constipated cat’s digestive tract. Since it’s high in fiber, it also helps normalize intestinal action. Slippery elm bark is available at health food stores. Ask your veterinarian about the correct dosage for your cat.
Canned pumpkin (not pie filling) is a source of fiber, which encourages water absorption and increases the amount of stool the cat produces. Many cats like the taste of pumpkin and will lick it off a spoon or plate, or you can add it to your cat’s wet food. Again, consult your veterinarian for dosage amounts.
Many veterinarians recommend psyllium for constipated cats. It absorbs water in the colon, so the stool becomes softer and larger. Since psyllium can cause intestinal obstruction in cats who are not well hydrated, it should be mixed with water and added to wet food.
Olive oil makes the stool more liquid and easier to pass. The website Vetinfo.com suggests mixing between five and 10 drops in the cat’s wet food. Too much olive oil can cause diarrhea, so use it sparingly.
Wet food keeps cats hydrated and is more digestible than dry food, producing less waste. Since it tends to be low in fiber, veterinarian Jean Hofve suggests adding a bit of psyllium or rice bran to the food. Adding about one teaspoon of water to wet food can also help with hydration and relieve chronic constipation.
Cats that are even slightly dehydrated produce dry, hard stools that are difficult to pass, causing constipation. To encourage drinking, put water bowls in several locations around your house, add a couple of drops of unsalted chicken broth to your cats’ water or give your cats a fountain made especially for pets. Most pet supply stores sell cat fountains.
Clean Litter Box
Some cats would rather withhold stool than use a dirty litter box. Keeping your cat’s box scooped and clean and removing the “hood” or cover could relieve chronic constipation.