- Health Library
- PetMD U
Constipation is the inability to defecate normally, resulting in retention of feces and/or hard, dry feces.
You will need to differentiate straining to defecate (tenesmus) from straining to urinate and diarrhea-associated straining. Clear indicators of tenesmus include:
Although constipation can affect any cat at any age, it is seen more frequently in middle-aged male cats. If constipation is prolonged, additional signs like lethargy, loss of appetite or vomiting may be seen.
If your cat is still producing some feces on a daily basis:
If, however, it has been more than 48 hours since your cat has defected, in spite of your effort, the cat needs to be evaluated by your veterinarian.
A physical exam and discussion of your cat's symptoms will help your veterinarian decide what additional tests are needed. Usually X-rays are taken; other tests like abdominal ultrasound, blood and urine tests may be necessary if it is thought the constipation is due to dehydration.
If dietary adjustments (i.e., more fiber and water consumption) have not worked, your veterinarian will likely give your cat an enema. DO NOT use over-the-counter enema solutions designed for humans. Some of them contain enough potassium to kill a cat. Your vet will most likely give your cat fluids as well, either under the skin (subcutaneously) or intravenously. In some cases of megacolon, the cat must be sedated and the fecal material manually removed.
Constipation can be prevented in many cases by providing adequate fiber and water to keep the cat “regular.” Some cats need prescription laxatives, usually containing lactulose, to stay “regular.”
Megacolon, on the other hand, is not yet well understood. In fact, there is no current way to prevent its development. Cats with megacolon may reach a point where nothing helps and euthanasia must be considered.
The condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak
The term for a colon that is enlarged abnormally
The term for the hip and related area
A type of medication that is used to loosen stool and relieve constipation
A type of slime that is made up of certain salts, cells, or leukocytes
Inducing death on an animal or putting them to sleep
The exiting of excrement from the body; bowel movements.
A medical condition in which the body has lost fluid or water in excessive amounts
Introducing fluid into the rectum of a living thing
The end of the gastrointestinal tract; the opening at the end of the tract.