Cats Constipation
Understanding the Problem,
and Some Solutions

Constipation can be a problem for cats

Cats constipation is a common problem. Are you surprised? They can have an abnormal accumulation of feces and be unable to routinely and easily evacuate their bowels.

When constipation happens, the feces stays longer than it should in the
colon or rectum.  The results are that
the feces become dryer and harder.

Tip: A daily dose of a magnesium
 can keep
the feces moist, correcting and
preventing the problem!

Our other articles
on cat constipation

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Remedies for
cat constipation

For most cats the norm would be to have a bowel movement once a day.  If a cat is constipated it may only defecate two to four days or less than that.

Constipation is painful for a cat and uncomfortable as well. If cats are constipated they may defecate outside their liter box instead of inside. In the cat’s mind pain is associated with the liter box itself.

There are a couple of conditions that are more serious, but are similar to constipation:

  • A condition where colon nerves and muscles have been damaged, called Mega colon, make elimination difficult

  • Obstipation, where the colon is completely obstructed by stool

Causes of Cats Constipation

Common causes

  • Poor diet

  • An infection

  • An adverse reaction to medication

  • No access to drinking water

A smelly liter box

If a cat has a dirty liter box, it may avoid the box. The cat then becomes constipated, because it has held its stool for too long of a period.

A hooded liter box can also be a problem, as it holds odor in. This is quite unpleasant to cats, and they avoid it.

Diet of dry cat food

Jean Hofve says,

"In more than eighteen years of experience as a
feline veterinarian, I have not personally seen
constipation problems in cats who do not eat dry food.

It is logical, therefore to think that diet plays a
significant role in development of the problem." 

Here is an exception. Our 2 elderly cats have been on dry food all their lives. We give them a mineral supplement containing magnesium, 1 drop for every 2 pounds of weight each day. This works wonders to keep their bowels functioning normally.


According to David Alderton in his book, “The Cat”, molting usually takes place in the spring although shedding may increase for a period just before winter.

Cats should be groomed more often during this time.

Wikimedia image

Cats will shed more hair than usual, (when  molting), which can lead to the formation of fur balls, especially in longhairs. The cat licks itself and takes in large amounts of loose hair, which can accumulate as a mass in the digestive tract.

This causes a blockage. Some fur balls are vomited with no problems, depending on where they are located. Those that pass lower down the intestines and away from the stomach may cause constipation.

Medical causes for cat constipation

  • Lower back pain
  • Bones, hair, etc, are obstructing the intestines
  • Injury to the pelvis
  • Nerve problems

  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
  • Intestinal tumors
  • Underlying metabolic abnormality

Painful memories

In the book Good Owners, Great Cats Brian Kilcommons says:

"there are certain medical conditions that cause cats
a great deal of pain when they attempt to eliminate."

Cats have their own type of logic.  Instead of blaming their pain on their physical problem, cats blame it on their liter box. This type of avoiding the box occurs after a bout of constipation.

A Common Cat Problem

Depending on the diet a cat has, cats should typically have a bowel movement one to three times a day. Unfortunately, all too often this is not true.

Domestic cats

Constipation, which has to do with straining or passing hard stools, has become universal among domestic cats. Cats constipation is known to be one of the most common cat health problems.

Age of the cat

Constipation can affect a cat at any age, but most of the time it is seen in cats that are middle aged or elderly. Elderly cats can suffer often from infrequent or difficult bowel movements.

An older cat can suffer from pain or discomfort which is associated with osteoarthritis. Getting in or out of the liter box or getting in a certain position can be painful.  

What cats constipation means to you

Constipation is not considered a disease, but it is a sign that something deep down in the body could be very wrong. If the intestinal track is very badly obstructed, most likely a laxative from the vet won’t do much good.

In most cases constipation is harmless and a temporary condition, but sometimes it can point to more serious disorders, especially if it is an older cat.

Wikimedia image

For some reason, older cats suffer much more from constipation than younger cats. Constipation is less known among adolescents.

In the book, “The complete book of Cats”, Angela Sayer says,

"Certain conditions found in the old cat such as constipation,
may require special diets, and your veterinarian will advise.

sea mineral supplement has enough magnesium to prevent most cases of cats constipation, even in older cats.

Watching Your Cat's Elimination Habits

In “The Everything Cat Book”, Steve Duno says,

"Any time a cat suddenly begins to urinate or defecate
more or less frequently than is normal for it, you should
be on your guard for some health problems.”


What to watch out for 

Duno also states,

“In addition to observing the frequency of your cat's defecation,
look to see if the act causes your cat any pain, which could point
to stones, infection, poor diet or a number of other problems."

The odor of your cat's waste can also be indicating that there is a problem. It could point to a bad diet or there may be something which is presenting a toxic condition.” 

Long hair cats

Dr. Andrew Edney says,

"A cat should have a bowel movement at least once a day.
Elderly cats, particularly long haired types, are the most likely
to suffer from a blockage in the bowel due to constipation."

I hope this article has given you a better understanding of why cats become constipated. If you have found it useful, perhaps you would like to share it with friends of yours who are cat lovers.

A better understanding of our feline friends helps us to provide them with greater happiness and comfort. (Hint: magnesium is also great for human constipation, plus has many other health benefits.

(Return from Cats Constipation to Constipation in Cats)

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