Here’s the truth:
A healthy cat will poop at least once every 24–36 hours.
So if your cat’s litter stays empty for more than two days, there’s definitely a problem.
But why has your cat gone without poop for so long? If a cat hasn’t pooped in over two days, it’s likely suffering from constipation. You can use some home remedies and different methods to treat your cat’s constipation, but if it still can’t pass stools in over 72 hours, it’s best to take it to the vet.
Still, we recommend implementing some remedies before taking your cat to the vet.
What are those remedies? Keep reading to find out!
Why Your Cat Isn’t Pooping
Before we figure out how to treat your cat’s constipation, let’s figure out what’s causing it and whether you should treat it yourself or not. There are also certain constipation symptoms you should watch out for that will help you diagnose the issue much better.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of constipation:
Symptoms of Constipation
The most obvious and noticeable symptom of constipation is not passing stools for over 24 hours. If you find your cat’s litter empty after a full day, they’re probably having trouble pooping.
But to make sure that your cat isn’t pooping outdoors and that they actually are suffering from constipation, see if they’re showing the following symptoms:
- Dry and Hard Stools
- Straining or wailing while pooping
- Stiff and hunched posture
- Loss of appetite
- Tension in abdomen
Though it’s not necessary for a cat to display all symptoms, most of them will have dry stools and will strain in their litter. An important thing to remember about straining is that it could also be a sign of urinary tract issues. Finding no stools means that they’re suffering from constipation, but if there’s an absence of urine, you should get your cat to a vet right away as a urinary tract blockage can become fatal fast.
But if your cat is still passing urine normally, it’s quite likely that your cat is constipated. The next step is to figure out what’s causing it. If you’re able to correctly diagnose the cause, treating your cat’s constipation will be even easier.
Causes of Constipation
There can be many reasons why your cat is constipated, but in most cases, the culprit is dehydration. Many owners forget to keep a regular check on their cat’s hydration level. And what makes this situation even worse is the fact that cats aren’t the biggest water drinker. Fortunately, dehydration is easily treatable.
However, if your cat is fully hydrated but is still constipated, the reasons could range from remedy-treatable to requiring immediate medical attention. Here are some of the most common reasons for constipation in cats varying in intensity from mild-cases to emergency situations:
- Fiber deficiency in diet
- Reduced water intake
- Lack of exercise
- Litter avoidance due to uncleanliness
- Enlarged or ruptured anal sac
- Hairball blockage
- Stomach or intestinal infection
- Nerve disorder or weakening
- Pelvic tumor
- Kidney diseases
- Foreign object blockage
- Drug side-effects
Most of these causes can be treated through simple home remedies and treatments. Ideally, you should get your cat checked by a vet for serious level threats so they can diagnose and prescribe the right medication and treatment.
But if you suspect that your cat has stopped passing stools since eating a foreign object, taking medication, or after being seriously hurt, you should rush them to your veterinarian straight-away to prevent any permanent damage or death.
Treating Constipation At Home
When treating constipation in cats, you should be fully aware of your feline’s case. You should be certain that the reason why they’re unable to pass stools isn’t linked to trauma or ingestion of a foreign object in any case.
Moreover, it’s crucial to begin treatment as soon as 24 hours have passed without passing any stools. This gives you time to experiment and see if the case is actually within your control or should be handled by a vet.
With that in mind, here are some of the most successful and easiest remedies and treatments you can try out to relieve your cat’s constipation at home:
1. Increase your cat’s water intake
Cats are infamous for avoiding water that often leads to dehydration and hardened stools. In this case, the obvious treatment is to simply increase your cat’s water intake.
A quick way to check whether your cat is dehydrated or not is to pinch and lift the skin over their shoulders slightly. If your cat is dehydrated, the skin will return very slowly and will create a fold. But if they’re adequately hydrated, the skin will swiftly return to its original position.
Since you can’t increase your cat’s water intake in a couple of hours, the fastest way to apply this technique is to provide your cat with multiple water sources. Leave lots of bowls of fresh water around the house.
Turn on the taps in your house so that water is constantly dripping from them. Some cats tend to like drinking water from dripping faucets. If that doesn’t do the trick, add some broth to your cat’s water bowls to tempt them into drinking flavored water instead.
2. Increase exercise and weight management
Exercise and physical activity have many positive effects on pets, one of them being a normally functioning digestive system. That’s why cats that live a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to obesity and constipation.
If your feline is constipated, making them exercise will boost their intestinal movement and benefit them in multiple ways throughout the future. So during an episode of constipation, encourage your cat to play with their favorite toys or take them outdoors for a session of high-intensity exercise so the hardened stools can easily pass through.
3. Give them fiber supplements
When a low-fiber diet is the reason behind your cat’s constipation, providing them with fiber supplements can help immensely in restoring intestinal functioning to normal. Fiber plays a vital role in promoting gut flora and hydrates the intestines to allows stools to pass through easily.
Some great fiber supplements that help increase your cat’s fiber intake include wheat bran and psyllium husk. Both of these can be added to your cat’s regular meals to increase their fiber intake and relieve their constipation.
However, we recommend taking your vet’s advice on these supplements as some fibers can cause allergies in cats and further worsen their constipation.
4. Change their diet
If you want to avoid constipation in the long run, it’s best to change your cat’s diet and eliminate any foods that might cause allergies or digestive upsets. Figure out which food doesn’t suit your cat’s stomach, such as the protein or carb source, and replace it with a grain-free or limited ingredient diet.
If your cat is a lazy drinker, it’s best to shift to a wet food diet or regularly add some water or broth to your cat’s dry food. Dehydration is typically the main cause of constipation, and food is one of the best ways to provide your cat with sufficient amounts of water.
5. Use laxatives
If your cat has gone more than three days without pooping or you suspect that there might be an intestinal obstruction, you might need to use some laxatives to allow the obstruction to clear.
You can use Colace or Lactulose for cats to ease their intestines and allow the hardened stools to pass through. Otherwise, we strongly advise against using any laxatives made for human consumption or ones that contain xylitol as these can be lethal to cats.
If the obstruction is serious, you should probably take your cat to a vet so they can administer an enema or decide upon another treatment depending on the severity of your cat’s constipation.
When To Seek Veterinary Help
While most of our home remedies and techniques will be quite helpful in relieving your cat’s constipation, you should know when your cat requires serious medical attention from a vet.
Ideally, you should wait no longer than 72 hours since your cat has had a bowel movement. The correct time to implement home remedies is 24 hours after your cat has stopped pooping, and if they show no improvement in a day or two, it’s best to let your vet handle the case.
Moreover, if you suspect that the cause behind your cat’s constipation is emergency level, it’s best to take your cat directly to your vet instead of using your own techniques. A vet will conduct a full body assessment and figure out the reason behind your cat’s constipation and treat it accordingly.
If there’s an obstruction caused by a foreign object, your vet might even have to remove the object surgically. However, this is a rare occurrence, and in most cases, it’s hardened stools that are constipating your cat.
Can you give your cat Vaseline for constipation?
You can feed your cat a ½ teaspoon of Vaseline a day to relieve constipation. However, we highly recommend checking with your vet first and only using the purest form of Vaseline available.
How much does an intestinal surgery cost in cats?
A vet can charge anywhere from $800 to $2,000 for a gastrointestinal obstruction surgery, depending on their experience and skills.
Can you give your cat milk for constipation?
Milk has been proven to help relieve constipation in cats. However, you should use small amounts first so that your cat doesn’t suffer any adverse effects in case they’re lactose intolerant.
How do you relieve a cat suffering from hairball constipation?
An excellent remedy to relieve cats suffering from hairball obstruction is to mix one teaspoon of olive oil into their cat food. Do this for two to three days to help the hairball pass through, but if no improvement occurs, get your cat checked by a vet immediately.
Should you massage a constipated cat?
No, massaging a constipated cat isn’t proved to be beneficial in relieving cats. More importantly, massaging a constipated cat can instead cause them to lash out as they are in pain due to the obstruction.