Can Cats Get Constipated?

Cats normally have firm stools that they eliminate daily or every other day. It is common for senior cats to skip a day but two days without stools raises a red flag. If your cat is straining, eliminating outside the litter box, and has blood in its stool, check for cat constipation symptoms. If you’ve never had a constipated cat, you may be wondering, how do cats get constipated?

 Why do cats get constipated?



Cats, in general, have an aversion to water which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. When cats are constipated, their vet will first consider their water intake.

A cat water fountain may encourage your cat to consume its daily H20 needs. You may also give your cat low-sodium chicken broth with no garlic and onions. Some cats also like licking ice.

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Cats also don’t like drinking water from dirty bowls. Scrub and clean the cat bowl every time you change the water. In a multiple cat household, be sure to offer several bowls of clean drinking water as some cats dislike drinking in the same bowl with other cats.


It is wise to give your cat a balanced diet of dry and wet cat food along with substantial fiber. When switching to a new food, ensure you don’t make sudden changes to your cat’s diet.

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Obesity is also linked to constipation as often such cats are not getting adequate nutritional value and moisture content from their food.

 Obstruction of the passageway

Hairballs, string, bones, and other foreign objects swallowed by a cat can cause blockage in the intestines, colon, and anus. Your cat should pass the object in its stool.

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If it does not happen, your vet may need to remove the fecal matter manually. Kittens are at risk of intestinal blockage from ingesting foreign objects or even a worm infestation.

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Cats with arthritis or fractures in the knees, pelvis, and lower back can have an extremely difficult time getting into position to pass stool.

Muscle weakness can also add to the difficulty of defecating. Inflammation or abscess of the prostate or the anal sac can also cause difficulty and blockage.

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It is more common for kittens to get diarrhea than constipated, but it does happen. In their first six months of life, kittens are keen on exploration and may ingest anything they see.

It is wise to kitten-proof your apartment to avoid ingestion of hazardous matter that can cause kitten constipation.  

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It is senior cats that are more susceptible to difficulty in passing stool. Often, they will eliminate less frequently. Older cats also consume less water. They also have more sedentary lifestyles.

An increase in physical activity can help elderly cats eliminate better by stimulating the muscles in the colon.

Final Thoughts

Other problems that cause constipation include a dirty litter box, adjusting to new environments, and anxiety such as when you introduce a new pet to the household. Constipation can also be a symptom of an underlying condition such as kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism.

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Changing your cat’s diet and increasing water intake can be beneficial in preventing constipation in cats. You may also opt to use stool softeners or a laxative like Miralax to relieve constipation.

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If problems with constipation are left unsolved for an extended period, it can lead to a chronic condition called feline megacolon or inflammation of the colon evident in dry stool build-up.

This post contains affiliate links on some of the images. You can support this blog by trying out the products recommended in this article. 

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Cristina Vulpe is a licensed veterinarian who has been a cat owner since she was 12. She is passionate about giving useful advice to pet owners across the world. Her favorite topics range from pathology and novel therapies to infectious diseases and animal welfare. Her work has been featured in many online publications from The Pet Friendly House to Alpha Paw, Animal Wellness Magazine, and Currently, she is a Pet Content Specialist for IkoBrands.

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