Constipated cat

susanjnDecember 26, 2009

I just got back from the vet where my cat, Grey, had an enema under anesthesia for constipation (oh, the indignity). She's now acting completely normal, has eaten some canned food (Wellness) and water.

They did some lab work, and other than GLU (glucose?) level of 191 mg/dL, everything was within normal range. The vet also noticed a heart murmur for the first time. We believe she has Manx Syndrome, but she is 6+ years old which is older than expected for a cat with that condition. Maybe we're seeing the beginning of her decline. She weighed 8lb. 10oz., down almost a pound from last year.

So now I'm researching prevention of constipation. I've read about fish oil and pumpkin. What types of fish oil and how much? How much pumpkin? Would I use these every day or just occasionally?

The vet did give me general written instructions to bring her back in if she goes without having a BM for more than two days, but nothing about prevention. I can email her about that. Basically my brain turned to mush beyond the moment while I was there.


Susan - happy to see my sweet pretty kitty more comfortable

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Hmm, weight loss and heart murmur are common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Did Grey's bloodwork include a Total T4 test (a standard blood chemistry usually does not)? If not, you should take her back in for that test.

Plain canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) can be given at the dose of 1 tsp/day mixed into canned food. It is a high fiber source that will help bulk up and soften her stool. It can be given indefinitely. If she won't eat pumpkin, you can use 1/8 tsp. of unflavored Metamucil (psyllium), instead.

Miralax is a very effective stool softener, too, and is a dose-to-effect drug. My CRF cat, Billy, receives a heaping 1/8 tsp. of Miralax twice daily to manage his chronic constipation. It works like a charm. If his stool is a little too firm. I increase the dose very slightly. If his stool becomes too soft, I decrease it. Billy's been receiving Miralax twice daily for nearly two years now. If you decide to use Miralax with Grey, start out with 1/8 tsp once daily and see how it affects her stool consistency. You can adjust the dose gradually from there, if necessary.

Most importantly, make sure your girl remains well hydrated. Even mild dehydration can lead to constipation problems. If you feed her any kibble, it'd be best to stop. It'd also be a good strategy to mix warm water into her canned food to increase her water intake.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 3:43PM
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LaurieF gives excellent advice, as always.

Just wanted to add that one of ours had been very prone to constipation, to the point where she had to have an enema, as your cat did.

Now I give her about an inch-worth from a tube of Petromalt every other day, and that seems to have stopped her problem. (This can be smeared on a paw so kitty has to lick it off.)

We have had two Manx cats in the past (fabulous personalities) but, fortunately, neither had bowel problems.

All the best to you and Grey!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 4:33PM
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Thanks for the quick response, Laurie.

The tests did not include T4, so we'll check up on that.

I picked up the kibble as soon as we got home so she couldn't eat it. And I just stirred some water into her canned food which she seemed to enjoy.

We'll start with some pumpkin and see how that goes before trying the psyllium or Miralax.

All of these things wouldn't hurt her brother, either. Although he becomes quite the nudge when the dry food bowl is empty.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 4:45PM
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I was wondering about hairball remedies. We've given her Petromalt in the past but not recently. I don't even remember how she took it. We also probably don't brush her enough.

Grey came from a litter of six kittens from a rescued pregnant cat. We don't really know her lineage. 3 of the litter had no tail; 2 had a full tail; Grey had about two inches of tail fused and curving downward. She couldn't lift it, so it was pretty messy all the time. We had it docked when she was spayed. I was a sucker for the sweet little kitten who couldn't walk very well. She still looks awkward when she walks, but she can RUN! And she climbs pretty well, too. She can climb the ladder to my son's bunk bed. We also have her brother, with a full tail, who has a big in-your-face-personality, and is a really annoying brother. Oh, and Grey swears like a sailor at him.

It's a little creepy - they interact a lot like my son and daughter do.

Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 5:03PM
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A word of caution about hairball remedies. They can help lubricate impacted stool or hairballs in the gut, but they can also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients if used long term. They are best used only if your cat is actively constipated. For prevention, use fiber sources and/or stool softeners like Miralax (OTC) or Lactulose (prescription).


    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 5:59PM
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I have only been using the Petromalt for about a month, but I have some Lactulose in the fridge, left over from when she had the enema at the vet's. She likes the taste. I will switch back to that for prevention -- thanks for the advice, Laurie.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 6:19PM
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My big old male had a megacolon. I lived with giving that poor fellow enemas for at least five years if he couldn't pass stool normally. If your cat continues to have constipation, you might want to have her checked out for that condition. Being constipated for long periods can also lead to developing a megacolon.

My fellow had a traumatic injury when he was a kitten rendering his tail functionless for many years, and probably also injuring nerves in or around his pelvic area. That can also lead to constipation. I did find in the last year by switching him over from any form of dry food to canned cat food, he began to have stools without the enemas most of the time.

The cat foods I found moved him were believe it or not, the cheapest, stinky brands like Puss 'n Boots and Cozy kitty. Both of which he loved anyway. The vet had recommended keeping him on felaxin (like a hairball remedy, but I found it hurt the cause and didn't help it, because it coated his stool with oil, preventing the absorption of water in his colon.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 3:23PM
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I have an older tabby, 15?, that has very dry stools. The vet also suggested the hairball remedy but instead of every day I was to start with three days then once or twice a week if I saw the stools become very dry. By only giving one a week or so it does not interfer with absorption of food.

Do have the vet check the thyroid as it is somewhat common in some breeds.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 11:17PM
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We have been concerned about megacolon ever since she was born, and we researched her birth defect. Not looking forward to that!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 12:12AM
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