My Cat Can't Poop! Constipation in Cats

3 min read

How Often Should a Cat Poop? What Does Cat Poop Look Like Normally?

Cats' bowel movements often vary, but most cats will poop at least once a day. Normally, the poop is a rich brown color and should look well-formed. If your cat is pooping less frequently and having some difficulty, she may be constipated or obstipated.

Constipation and Obstipation in Cats

Constipation is a condition characterized by infrequent, incomplete, or difficult defecation, with passage of hard or dry bowel movements (feces). Obstipation is pronounced constipation that is difficult to manage or does not respond to medical treatment. Obstipation is caused by prolonged retention of hard, dry bowel movement; defecation becomes impossible for patients with this condition. This is a relatively common condition in cats.

Symptoms and Types

  • Straining to defecate with small or no fecal volume
  • Hard, dry bowel movement
  • Infrequent or complete lack of defecation
  • Small amount of liquid stool with mucus in it - sometimes with blood present, produced after prolonged straining to defecate (known as tenesmus)
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression
  • Large intestine (colon) filled with hard, compacted fecal material
  • Swelling around the anus


  • Swallowed bones
  • Swallowed hair
  • Foreign material
  • Excessive fiber in the diet
  • Inadequate water intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • Trauma
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Paralysis/muscle weakness – muscles of intestine are unable to move fecal material
  • Low blood calcium
  • High levels of parathyroid hormone (important in calcium absorption)
  • Low levels of blood potassium
  • Low levels of thyroid hormone in the blood
  • Change of environment - hospitalization, move, dirty litter box
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Intercat aggression – cat is afraid to use litter box for fear of other cat
  • Inability to walk to toileting area


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your cat, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis.

X-rays are crucial for visualizing the abdomen and intestinal tract in order to determine the severity of the impaction. Ultrasound imaging of the abdomen can return more precise images. Your veterinarian may also choose to use a colonoscopy (a diagnostic tool that is inserted into the colon to visualize the interior) to diagnose and identify a mass, stricture, or other colonic or rectal lesion.

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