The Constipated Cat

A constipated cat, with veterinary assistance, is usually treatable at home.

Cats spend an enormous amount of time grooming. All that grooming leads to a large amount of fur in the gut. Many times that fur returns to us in the form of cigar, or sausage shaped vomit.

We calls these disgusting gifts from our cats, furballs or hairballs.

Some cats are not so fortunate, and not always quite so successful. They have hairballs, but can't bring them up.

They may employ a hacking cough. They may also vomit, but try as they might, the fur does not come up. The only place it can go is further down the tube to muck up the plumbing.

Hairballs are the number one cause of constipation in cats - otherwise healthy cats, that is. Some veterinarians will recommend that a hairball treatment be given up to twice per week in order to help prevent a constipated cat.

Commercial hairball treatments may contain mineral oil or white petrolatum. Be aware that sending things down the pipe faster than usual all oiled up may prevent your cat from absorbing nutrients as well as before. Excessive use can be dangerous.

If your cat has a history of hairball problems, or is constipated, your vet may recommend lactulose. This is sort of a sweet, sticky syrup made of a type of indigestible sugar - some cats like the taste, some don't.

If your cat is diabetic, you'll want to make sure any veterinarian prescribing lactulose is aware of that. There may be enough digestible sugar in the lactulose to cause a problem

Using laxatives can cause diarrhea, which is unpleasant for both you and the cat. It can also be dangerous as it can lead to electrolyte imbalances, and possibly dehydration. Dehydration is a highly dangerous condition which your cat should be treated for immediately.

If you've got a constipated cat at home, then more than likely the condition is not serious. Long term constipation, however, can lead to other, more serious bowel conditions. In addition, a more serious, underlying condition could be at fault. Have your cat checked by your veterinarian.

More Information:

Causes and treatment of constipation in cats

General information on feline constipation

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