How to Stimulate Bowel Movement in Cats

I’ve written about cat constipation in other posts, but I haven’t exactly addressed the topic of solving this issue at home. Cats can suffer from chronic constipation for a number of reasons, some of which I am going to discuss below.

If you’d like to find out how to stimulate bowel movement in cats, keep on reading! 

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How to make a cat poop when constipated


Increase exercise

Exercise naturally stimulates bowel movements in cats and people alike. This is why outdoor cats are less predisposed to constipation than indoor ones.

You can ensure that your cat gets enough exercise by buying her new toys and playing with her every day. I’d say the ideal schedule for playtime is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.

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Keep in mind that cats need daily play to remain happy, and also to prevent certain mental problems, including depression and dementia (in geriatric cats). 

Make sure your cat is drinking enough water

Cats aren’t best-known for their huge appetite for water, and this can create an array of problems. 

Pets that don’t get enough water have a higher risk of developing urinary health pathologies. 

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Plus, if your cat is dehydrated, there is no way the poop can be expelled naturally. The vast majority of cats hate stale water, so make sure you change your own’s once a day or even twice a day. 

Investing in a quality cat water fountain can be another idea for preventing dehydration and constipation. 

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Another good idea is to begin feeding your cat more pouches and canned food rather than relying on dry food alone. 

Minimize stress

Some cats can be stressed by a wide range of factors from being rehomed to sitting alone at home for many hours in a day, without having any entertainment opportunities. 

In my experience, white, geriatric, and scaredy cats are more predisposed to constipation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve performed enemas on old, white cats while I was practicing! 

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Also, white cats are also generally more fearful than others especially since they also usually don’t hear that well. 

Make sure you change the litter on a regular basis

If you don’t clean the litter box as often as possible, your feline buddy is going to hold it in (both number 1 and number 2), which can lead to severe constipation, but also to urinary tract infections. 

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If you don’t think you have enough time for cleaning your cat’s litter box, you can have two litter boxes in your house so at least the litter in one of them is less dirty and usable. 

Give your cat probiotics

If your cat’s intestinal flora is not healthy, either because she was on antibiotics or because she’s not getting enough healthy fiber in her diet, she’s not going to have any bowel movements. 

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Giving your cat probiotics can help prevent a variety of diseases, and they’re also harmless, so they aren’t going to put your pet’s health in danger in any way. 

Please refrain from using human probiotics on your cat as different species have different microorganisms in their gut. 

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Use a stool softener for cats

There are lots of products that can help a cat poop these days and I’ve written an extensive article about cat laxatives in the past. 

Some of them are very easy to administer and can even come with flavors that cats actually enjoy (they might smell and taste like meat or salmon, for example). 

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By the way, you can also use fish oil (which contains a good amount of omega 3, a healthy supplement for cats) to stimulate bowel movements in cats, but only small quantities should be used. 

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Some of my personal favorites in terms of stool softeners for cats are the following:

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Ask your vet what human laxatives are safe for cats

I’ve written about this before but one good example of what a safe human-grade laxative can be for cats is Miralax. 

Ask your veterinarian what other options you have available — there aren’t that many, unfortunately. 

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Also, since geriatric cats have a much higher chance of having constipation problems than younger ones, make sure you take your feline companion to the vet clinic for vet check-ups at least twice a year. 

And get pet insurance, especially after your cat’s reached the age of 6-7. 

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How vets stimulate bowel movement in cats with medication

In severe cases of constipation where the animal doesn’t seem to respond to any of the changes we’ve previously mentioned, your vet will have to perform an enema. 

Since the procedure is rather complicated and painful and most cats really don’t like it, it can be performed under general anesthesia. 

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As you can imagine, general anesthesia is not recommended more than 2-3 times a year, which is why your vet can’t give your cat enemas every week. 

Your vet can use antispastic medication and veterinary laxatives, but you will also receive the recommendation to switch your cat’s diet. 

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Some pouches of cat food don’t contain any bits and pieces at all – they’re like cream or paste, which makes them easier to digest and they aren’t going to add to the feces that your cat already has in her large intestine. 

Usually, these products are considered treats, but you can feed them as your cat’s main food in times of need (a good example are the Hartz Delectables pouches). 

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How to tell if your cat is constipated

It can be difficult to tell if your cat is having a problem with her digestion if you don’t keep an eye on her all the time. 

Most cats that try to defecate and can’t are going to use the litter boxes time and again without achieving any result. 

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If you hear your feline buddy ‘going to the bathroom’ several times in a row and then she begins to meow without any particular reason, you should check the litter and see whether there’s any poop or not. 

If there isn’t, change the litter and then wait to see what happens. Play with your cat for a good 15 minutes or so. Give your cat some salmon oil and probiotics and see what happens. 

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If you have nothing to collect from the litter box feces-wise two or three days in a row, your cat might be constipated. 

Also, some cats lose their appetite as a result of having a lot of room occupied in their abdomen by the feces — so they’ll eat less. That can’t be good, right? So you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. 

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Is cat constipation an emergency?

If your cat hasn’t pooped in 5 days or more, it can be. No intestinal blockage, whether caused by a hairball or actual feces is good for an animal or person. 

The longer you wait, the higher the likelihood that your vet is going to perform an enema instead of just prescribing medication to stimulate bowel movement in cats!

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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