Healthy cats normally move their bowels once or twice a day. Constipation is an inability to defecate and while it may not always be caused by a serious illness, it can be life-threatening for a cat if not treated early.
Sometimes the reason for your cat not be passing solids may be as simple as not wanting to use a dirty litter box. By nature, cats are particular animals. If the litter box is not cleaned regularly, some cats will find a new place in the home to eliminate, but others may not move their bowels at all until the box is cleaned. Cats may also refuse to share the litter box in a multi-cat household.
Some health problems with can cause cat constipation include dehydration or a poor diet. Always provide clean, fresh water for your pet. Cats don't require much water but do need some for healthy digestion and hydration. They will also drink more in warm weather or when being fed a diet of dry food.
A low fiber diet or ingestion of too much hair may also cause constipation due to intestinal blockage. Cats who are long-haired or those who spend a lot of time grooming themselves may ingest more hair than their system can cope with. They may need a change in diet or a lubricant prescribed by a veterinarian to ease in the passing of excess hair through the bowels.
Other factors which may contribute to less frequent bowel movements include medications where constipation may be a side effect. Consult your veterinarian about side effects or adverse reactions to any regular medications prescribed for your pet.
Exercise also plays a part. Older cats can suffer from constipation due to a slowdown in their metabolism when they are less active. If your cat doesn't get his exercise by playing outside, spend a few minutes each day encouraging him to chase a toy or climb a cat tree to keep him physically fit.
If there is no clear cause for your cat's constipation, it may be a symptom of a more serious illness.
If your pet appears to be straining when he uses the litter box or seems to be in pain when defecating, vomits frequently, or appears to be losing weight, consult a veterinarian immediately. He or she will check the abdomen to see if it is hard which might be an indicator of a full colon, and may perform other tests to see if the cat may be suffering from a more serious condition. Cats can suffer from kidney disease or even cancer. Chances are that your cat's condition is not that serious but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
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