3 Common Signs of Constipation in Cats and How to Address the Issue


If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know how important it is to keep a close eye on their health. And one common issue that can arise is constipation. While it may not be a comfortable topic of discussion, it’s crucial to understand the signs of constipation in cats and know how to address this issue. By knowing what to look out for and taking the necessary steps, you can ensure that your feline friend stays happy and healthy for years to come. So, let’s dive into the three common symptoms of constipation in cats, and discover what you can do to help alleviate their discomfort.


As a responsible and caring cat owner, it is important to be aware of the health and well-being of your feline friend. One common issue that cats may face is constipation. Just like humans, cats can experience discomfort and pain when they are unable to have regular bowel movements. In this article, we will explore the signs of constipation in cats, its causes, and how you can prevent and address this issue. By understanding the symptoms and taking the necessary steps, you can ensure that your beloved cat stays happy and healthy.

3 Common Signs of Constipation in Cats and How to Address the Issue

Recognizing Constipation in Cats

Changes in litterbox habits

One of the first signs that your cat may be constipated is a change in their litterbox habits. If you notice that your cat is using the litterbox less frequently or not at all, it could be a sign of constipation. Cats are creatures of habit, and any sudden changes in their behavior should be taken seriously.

Straining to defecate

Another telltale sign of constipation is when your cat is visibly straining or struggling to defecate. You may notice your cat spending excessive time in the litterbox, making repeated attempts to pass stool. This straining can be accompanied by crying or yowling, indicating that your cat is in discomfort.

Visible discomfort or pain

Constipation can cause discomfort and pain in cats. You may observe your cat exhibiting signs such as restlessness, discomfort when sitting, or an arched back posture. Cats may also lick or bite at their hindquarters as they try to alleviate the discomfort. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take action to address the constipation.

Causes of Constipation in Cats

Inadequate fiber intake

A lack of fiber in a cat’s diet can contribute to constipation. Fiber helps to add bulk to the stool and promote regular bowel movements. If your cat’s diet lacks sufficient fiber, their stools may become hard and difficult to pass, leading to constipation.


Dehydration is another common cause of constipation in cats. When a cat does not consume enough water, their stools can become dry and hard, making them difficult to pass. It is essential to ensure that your cat has access to fresh water at all times and encourage them to stay hydrated.


Cats are known for their grooming habits, and while regular grooming is essential for their well-being, it can also lead to the formation of hairballs. When cats groom themselves, they ingest hair, which can accumulate in their digestive system and cause constipation. Taking steps to prevent hairballs, such as regular grooming and using hairball prevention products, can help alleviate constipation.

Obstruction or blockage

In some cases, constipation in cats can be caused by an obstruction or blockage in their digestive system. This can occur when a foreign object, such as a piece of string or a small toy, is ingested and gets stuck. It is important to keep small objects out of your cat’s reach to prevent such obstructions.

Underlying medical conditions

Constipation can also be a symptom of underlying medical conditions in cats. Health issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid problems, or pelvic injuries can all contribute to constipation. If you suspect that your cat’s constipation may be due to an underlying medical condition, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Preventing Constipation in Cats

Providing a balanced and high-fiber diet

One of the key ways to prevent constipation in cats is by providing them with a balanced diet that is rich in fiber. Look for cat food that contains natural sources of fiber, such as vegetables or pumpkin. High-quality commercial cat food brands often offer specialized formulas designed to promote regular bowel movements.

Encouraging hydration

To help prevent constipation, it is crucial to ensure that your cat stays hydrated. Cats are prone to dehydration, so make sure that they always have access to fresh water. If your cat is reluctant to drink water, you can try offering wet food or adding water to their dry food to increase their fluid intake.

Regular grooming and hairball prevention

Regular grooming can help prevent the formation of hairballs, which can contribute to constipation. Brushing your cat regularly will help to remove loose hair and reduce the amount that they ingest while grooming themselves. Additionally, using hairball prevention products, such as specialized cat treats or hairball remedies, can also help prevent constipation.

Avoiding excessive use of dry commercial diets

While dry food may be convenient, it can contribute to constipation in some cats. Dry commercial diets often have low water content, which can lead to dehydration and dry, hard stools. Consider incorporating wet food or adding water to your cat’s dry food to increase their fluid intake and promote regular bowel movements.

Ensuring exercise and physical activity

Regular exercise and physical activity are essential for a cat’s overall health, including their digestive system. Encourage your cat to play and engage in activities that keep them active. Physical movement helps to stimulate the digestive system and promotes regular bowel movements, reducing the likelihood of constipation.

Home Remedies for Mild Constipation

Increasing fiber with pumpkin or bran

If your cat is experiencing mild constipation, you can try incorporating more fiber into their diet. Adding a small amount of canned pumpkin or bran to their food can help soften their stools and promote regular bowel movements. However, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new food or supplement to ensure it is appropriate for your cat.

Adding water to dry food

If your cat primarily consumes dry food, adding water to their meals can help increase their fluid intake. The added moisture can help soften their stools and ease constipation. Start by adding a small amount of warm water to the dry food and gradually increase the water content until your cat is comfortable with the consistency.

Providing grass or catnip

Grass and catnip can act as natural laxatives for cats and help alleviate constipation. You can offer your cat pet-safe grass or catnip to chew on or purchase specially designed cat grass kits. These plants can help promote digestion and stimulate bowel movements.

Administering a mild laxative or stool softener

In some cases of mild constipation, your veterinarian may recommend the use of a mild laxative or stool softener. These products can help soften and lubricate the stool, making it easier for your cat to pass. However, it is important to always consult with your veterinarian before giving any medication or supplement to your cat.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Persistent or severe constipation

If your cat’s constipation persists or becomes severe, it is important to seek veterinary care. Constipation can be a symptom of underlying health issues that require medical attention. A veterinarian will be able to assess your cat’s condition and provide appropriate treatment.

Presence of blood in stool

The presence of blood in your cat’s stool should never be ignored. It can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as an intestinal blockage or injury. If you notice blood in your cat’s stool, it is important to seek immediate veterinary care.

Lethargy or loss of appetite

Constipation can cause discomfort and pain, leading to lethargy and a loss of appetite in cats. If your cat displays these symptoms along with constipation, it could indicate a more serious underlying issue. Contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination and determine the cause of your cat’s symptoms.

Recurrent episodes of constipation

If your cat experiences recurrent episodes of constipation, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Recurring constipation can be a sign of an ongoing health issue that requires proper diagnosis and treatment.

Medical Treatments for Constipation

Prescription laxatives or stool softeners

In more severe cases of constipation, your veterinarian may prescribe laxatives or stool softeners to help alleviate the issue. These medications are specifically formulated for cats and can help soften the stool and promote regular bowel movements. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and dosage recommendations when administering these medications.

Enemas or manual disimpaction

In cases where constipation is severe and causing significant discomfort, your veterinarian may need to administer an enema or manually disimpact your cat. These procedures should only be performed by a veterinarian or trained professional to ensure the safety and well-being of your cat.

Dietary changes or prescription diets

If an underlying dietary issue is contributing to your cat’s constipation, your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes or prescribe specialized diets. These diets are formulated to meet your cat’s nutritional needs while promoting regular bowel movements. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and monitor your cat’s response to the new diet.

Treatment of underlying medical conditions

If constipation is a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as a gastrointestinal disorder or thyroid problem, the appropriate treatment will need to be determined. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and may recommend additional tests or procedures to diagnose and treat the underlying condition.

The Importance of Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Early detection and prevention of constipation

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for the early detection and prevention of constipation in cats. During these visits, your veterinarian can assess your cat’s overall health, monitor their weight, and address any concerns or issues. By detecting constipation early on, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it from becoming a recurring problem.

Monitoring overall health and well-being

Regular veterinary check-ups also allow for the monitoring of your cat’s overall health and well-being. Your veterinarian can assess their dental health, vaccination status, and any other underlying conditions that may contribute to constipation. Through regular check-ups, your veterinarian can provide guidance on maintaining your cat’s optimal health.

Identifying and treating any underlying causes

In some cases, constipation may be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify these underlying causes and allow for appropriate treatment. By addressing the root cause, you can help prevent constipation from recurring and ensure your cat’s long-term health.

Professional guidance on diet and lifestyle adjustments

Your veterinarian is a valuable resource for guidance on diet and lifestyle adjustments to prevent constipation. They can recommend specific dietary changes, provide guidance on portion sizes, and suggest appropriate exercise routines for your cat. By following their professional advice, you can help keep your cat’s digestive system healthy and prevent constipation.


Constipation can be a discomforting and painful issue for cats, but with proper recognition, prevention, and treatment, it can be effectively managed. By being aware of the signs of constipation and implementing preventive measures such as a high-fiber diet, hydration, regular grooming, and exercise, you can help maintain your cat’s digestive health. However, if constipation persists or if more severe symptoms are present, it is crucial to seek veterinary care. Regular veterinary check-ups are also essential for the early detection and prevention of constipation, as well as the overall health and well-being of your feline companion. Remember, your cat’s health is in your hands, and your loving care can make a significant difference in their quality of life.

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