Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. The Humane Society of the United States. Federal Register of the U. David Braun, National Geographic, News Watch, October 21, 2010. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement.
This page was last edited on 1 January 2018, at 18:00. Please forward this error screen to 195. Constipation is uncomfortable, even painful. Other signs of constipation include irritability, painful abdomen, lethargy, and poor appetite or even loss of appetite. The colon, the last part of the intestinal tract, is a large muscular structure ending at the rectum. These bacteria finish up the digestion of protein.
By-products of this process include short-chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the colon. Some of these lining cells absorb water, while others secrete mucus to lubricate the stool and keep it moving along. Most cats defecate about once a day. A constipated cat may only defecate every 2 to 4 days, or even less. Usually the stools are hard and dry, because their long stay in the colon allows for absorption of most of their water content. However, occasionally a constipated cat can appear to have diarrhea, because liquid stool is the only thing that can get around the stuck mass of feces. A dirty litter box may cause a cat to avoid the box and become constipated by holding the stool too long.
Hooded litterboxes are a particular problem because they hold odor in, potentially making the box environment extremely unpleasant for the cat. In more than 18 years of experience as a feline veterinarian, I have not personally seen constipation problems in cats who do not eat dry food. It’s logical, therefore, to think that diet plays a significant role in development of the problem. Some cats may need more fiber than is present in very low fiber diets such as most canned, raw and homemade diets. Indeed, the initial treatment for constipation is usually a change in diet. Historically, these cats have been put on high-fiber dry foods.
Depending on the type of fiber and the circumstances, fiber can either speed up or slow down digestion. It’s therefore used for both constipation and diarrhea. Light, senior, and hairball foods all contain increased fiber, and there are also several medical high-fiber diets. Usually, any diet change helps, at least initially. However, high-fiber foods often seem to lose their effectiveness over time. More fiber, such as canned pumpkin, may be added.
Again, sometimes this produces a temporary improvement. Yet most of these cats continue to have problems. In fact, excessive fiber can irritate the digestive tract, potentially aggravating the issue. Psyllium and powdered cellulose seem to be particularly harsh. By this theory, the best food would be high fat, high protein, and low fiber, as well as high moisture. One would think that such a food would also be low fiber, but that is not necessarily true. However, most canned foods fit the bill, as do most homemade diets.
Cats eating some canned, homemade, and raw diets actually produce less stool, and may defecate less frequently simply because there is less waste. The key to distinguishing this from abnormal constipation is the extreme dryness of constipated stool, and the increased difficulty in passing it. Water balance is crucial in constipated kitties. Treatment for constipation depends on the severity of the problem. For mild cases, occasional enemas may be all they need. High-moisture diets keep the cat hydrated, and these diets are far more digestible and produce far less waste than dry food. Many cats will drink much more running water than they will ever take from a bowl. 4 tsp twice a day. Cats are usually not fond of the taste. Your veterinarian can prescribe these. Most cats tolerate it, many cats come to like it, and a few even enjoy it.