Constipated Cats

Figure 1. A normal stool is Type 4; anything below that is moving toward constipation.

A surprising number of cats have problems with constipation (abnormal accumulation of feces and difficulty defecating), and similar but more serious conditions such as obstipation (complete obstruction of the colon by feces) and megacolon (damaged nerves and muscles in the colon causing an inability to defecate). Constipation is uncomfortable, even painful. Constipated cats may defecate (or try to) outside the litterbox, because they associate pain or discomfort with the box itself. Other signs of constipation include irritability, painful abdomen, lethargy, and poor appetite or even loss of appetite.

The colon, the last part of the intestinal tract, is a large muscular structure ending at the rectum.  It contains most of the intestinal bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These bacteria finish up the digestion of protein. By-products of this process include short-chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the colon. Some of these lining cells absorb water, while others secrete mucus to lubricate the stool and keep it moving along.

Most cats defecate about once a day. A constipated cat may only defecate every 2 to 4 days, or even less. Usually the stools are hard and dry, because their long stay in the colon allows for absorption of most of their water content. However, occasionally a constipated cat can appear to have diarrhea, because liquid stool is the only thing that can get around the stuck mass of feces.

Causes for pooping problems include neurologic problems, pelvic injury, obstruction (by hair, bones, etc.), pain (especially in the low back), and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). (See this article for more info on IBD.) A dirty litter box may cause a cat to avoid the box and become constipated by holding the stool too long. Hooded litterboxes are a particular problem because they hold odor in, potentially making the box environment extremely unpleasant for the cat.

In more than 18 years of experience as a feline veterinarian, I have not personally seen constipation problems in cats who do not eat dry food. It’s logical, therefore, to think that diet plays a significant role in development of the problem. (Since I first wrote this article many years ago, I have heard from several readers whose cats developed constipation problems even on all-wet-food and raw diets; so, it’s not impossible, but happily it is fairly rare.) Some cats may need more fiber than is present in very low fiber diets such as most canned, raw and homemade diets. You can always add a pinch of fiber (ground flaxseeds and ground chia seeds, aka Salba, are reasonably palatable and work very well).

Indeed, the initial treatment for constipation is usually a change in diet. Historically, these cats have been put on high-fiber dry foods. Fiber modulates intestinal mobility. Depending on the type of fiber and the circumstances, fiber can either speed up or slow down digestion. It’s therefore used for both constipation and diarrhea. Light, senior, and hairball foods all contain increased fiber, and there are also several medical high-fiber diets.

Usually, any diet change helps, at least initially. However, high-fiber foods often seem to lose their effectiveness over time. More fiber, such as canned pumpkin, may be added. Again, sometimes this produces a temporary improvement. Yet most of these cats continue to have problems. In fact, excessive fiber can irritate the digestive tract, potentially aggravating the issue. Psyllium and powdered cellulose seem to be particularly harsh.

Since fiber encourages water absorption and increases the amount of stool produced (because it is indigestible), many experts have swung the other way and are recommending “low-residue” diets to minimize stool volume. “Low-residue” means that the food is highly digestible and produces minimal waste. Cats digest protein and fat best, but there is controversy about carbohydrates; it is clear that many cats are carb-intolerant. By this theory, the best food would be high fat, high protein, and low fiber, as well as high moisture. One would think that such a food would also be low fiber, but that is not necessarily true. However, most canned foods fit the bill, as do most homemade diets. However, some low residue diets incorporate a large amount of digestible carbohydrate, even in canned foods; excess carbohydrate may contribute to obesity and even feline diabetes. Reading the label is an important skill to develop (learn more about that in this article).

Cats eating some canned, homemade, and raw diets actually produce less stool, and may defecate less frequently simply because there is less waste. The key to distinguishing this from abnormal constipation is the extreme dryness of constipated stool, and the increased difficulty in passing it.

Water balance is crucial in constipated kitties. Most vets will give constipated cats subcutaneous (or even intravenous) fluids to boost their hydration.

Treatment for constipation depends on the severity of the problem. For mild cases, occasional enemas may be all they need. For severe blockages, the cat must be anesthetized for manual extraction of the feces (a process my favorite tech graphically but accurately refers to as a “dig-out”).

Once the cat is “cleaned out” by whatever means, it’s wise to take steps to prevent the problem from recurring. Several options are available; an individual cat may need only one of these, while others need several or all of them.

  • Canned, raw, or homemade diet. High-moisture diets keep the cat hydrated, and these diets are far more digestible  and produce far less waste  than dry food. Because canned and homemade diets tend to be extremely low in fiber, addition of a small amount of powdered psyllium (available in bulk at most health food stores) may be helpful.
  • Water Fountain. Many cats will drink much more running water than they will ever take  from a bowl. There are several types of pet fountains, from “cascades” to “waterfalls” and even more elaborate! I first noticed that my cats loved to drink from an inexpensive “feng shui” rock fountain from Bed, Bath & Beyond; but it was too hard to take apart and clean as often as was needed. Worse still, it was made of plastic (as most pet fountains are), which can leach chemicals into the water. We recommend the Glacier Point Fountain for Cats.
  • Miralax. Start with 1/8 tsp twice a day in food, and increase as needed up to 1/4 tsp twice a day. Active ingredient polyethylene glycol; not the same as poisonous ethylene glycol; very safe for cats long-term, and more palatable than other products.
  • Lactulose. This is a sugary syrup that holds water in the stool and keeps the stool soft; therefore it’s easier for the cat to pass. Cats are usually not fond of the taste. Fortunately, lactulose now comes in a mild-tasting powder (Kristalose) that can be encapsulated by a compounding pharmacy, or simply added to canned food.
  • Other stool softeners, such as DSS (docusate sodium). Your veterinarian can prescribe these.
  • Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly). The primary ingredient in most over-the-counter hairball remedies  (Laxatone, Kat-a-lax, Petromalt), petroleum jelly (or its close relative, mineral oil) can be given to the cat by mouth. Most cats tolerate it, many cats come to like it, and a few even enjoy it. The Vaseline brand is, according to my cats, the tastiest; but other cats prefer one of the flavored hairball types. Give 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon per day. Because it can interfere with nutrient absorption so giving it on an empty tummy (at least 2 hours apart from meals) is best. Petroleum jelly is a large molecule that is completely inert in the body. It’s the ideal lubricant and “escort” for intestinal contents, because it reaches the colon unchanged. Vegetable, coconut, and other digestible oils are broken down and absorbed in the small intestine, and cannot lubricate the colon where it’s most needed.
  • Cisapride (Propulsid). This drug was withdrawn from the market for humans because of dangerous side effects, but it is considered safe for cats. Your vet can order it from a compounding pharmacy. It seems to work best in combination with stool softeners. There are similar drugs being developed, but it could be a long time before they’re available.
  • Pediatric glycerin suppositories. Although they may not appreciate having a suppository pushed into their rectums, most cats tolerate it. Your vet can advise you on technique and frequency.
  • Enemas. This is usually done by a vet, but many cat guardians have gotten good at giving enemas at home. Mineral oil, K-Y jelly, soapy water, and plain warm water are all fine; you may have to experiment to see which one works best for your particular cat. Consult your vet on the type and amount to give; your cat’s colon is smaller than you might think, and it’s relatively easy to overload it. One well-meaning guardian administered a full human enema bag to her cat that pushed everything in the GI tract back the wrong way, and the poor kitty ended up vomiting feces! Fortunately he did survive. Note: NEVER use a “phosphate” enema such as Fleet; it can rapidly produce a fatal phosphorus overdose.
  • Slippery Elm Bark. This powdered herb can be added to canned food (add extra cool water) or made into a syrup. Its mild taste is well tolerated by most cats. See this article for more information.
  • Other Herbs. There are many herbal formulas available for people, but many herbs, such as Cascara sagrada, are too harsh for a cat. It’s best to consult a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about herbs to prevent an adverse reaction.
  • Resolve pain issues. Sometimes constipation occurs because of low back pain, which makes it uncomfortable for the cat to defecate. Chiropractic and/or acupuncture can be very helpful. See the directory at for a practitioner in your area.
  • Exercise. Staying active helps stimulate the intestines and keep things moving. If your constipated cat is also a couch potato, try Play Therapy.
  • Stress Management. There is always an energetic or emotional component of any chronic disease, and stress plays a significant role in many gastrointestinal conditions. The essence remedy “Happy Tummy” was designed by SpiritEssence to help address the energetic underpinnings of constipation and other GI diseases.
  • Fluid Therapy. Some cats do very well with occasional (daily to weekly) infusions of subcutaneous fluids. Your veterinarian or vet tech can show you how to do this at home. Give fluids whenever you notice your cat’s behavior indicate oncoming constipation.
  • Manual removal of stool. Commonly referred to as a “dig-out,” this is a procedure done under anesthesia for extreme cases that have not responded to other treatments. It is unpleasant for the digger, and likely painful for the cat post-op. Ask your vet to consider providing pain management for a day or two afterward.
  • PEG polyethylene glycol (Colyte®) infusion. This non-surgical procedure is not commonly used in clinics, but your vet may be willing to look into it. It requires the cat to spend 24 hours at the vet’s to receive an intranasal infusion of liquid Miralax. (Make sure your clinic has real human 24-hour supervision; a few do not disclose that everyone goes home at 6 pm.) It does not require anesthesia, but fractious cats  may require sedation; a dose of pain meds may help keep them calm afterwards. It is relatively comfortable for the cat, and in most cases moves the stool out about 12 hours later. If your veterinarian is on VIN (Veterinary Information Network), the link to the protocol can be found here; or if not, please have your vet fill out our contact form (top menu bar) and I will email it back.
  • Surgery. If there is damage to the nerves and muscles of the colon, a “sub-total colectomy” is the last resort. This surgery removes the colon, and joins the small intestine to the rectum. Unless and until the small intestine develops more colon-like functioning, the result is chronic diarrhea. However, the cat will be much more comfortable. The overall success rate of this surgery is over 90%.

If your cat is chronically constipated, the most important thing for you to do is be observant. Look for early signs of constipation; straining, abdominal discomfort, decreasing appetite, etc. Be aware of how often the cat is defecating. (If he does not produce adequate stool for more than 2-3 days, call your vet, or begin home treatments if you have established this routine. Kitty constipation is far easier to treat when it’s caught early; and dietary changes are more likely to be successful. If you wait, treatment will be far more expensive, and there is a greater chance of irreversible colon damage.

Click here to read Dr. Jean’s extensive interview on Floppy Cats on constipation.

PLEASE NOTE: There are many valuable experiences reported that could help your cat, so please take a few minutes to look through the comments below!  However, due to abuse of our comment policy, comments for this and all other articles are now closed. If you have questions or concerns about your cat, please contact your veterinarian. If you are dissatisfied with your veterinarian’s advice or treatment, then it would be wise to seek a second opinion. 



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154 comments for “Constipated Cats

  1. craftyruthie
    July 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    If you can’t find Miralax, “Restoralax” is the same thing in “human” form, found in any drug store. That’s what I use for my cat; it’s cheaper than a prescription, and doesn’t cause the gas, bloating, and cramping that lactulose did. I had to play around with the dosage until my cat was pooping normally (ie, not constipated but not having accidental poops or diarrhea).

  2. alliecat
    June 4, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    i usually NEVER register on websites but this info was so helpful. my poor baby hadnt pooped in 4-5 days. i tried the 1/4 teaspoon of miralax mixed in with some probiotic yogurt and when i got home from an 8 hour shift she had pooped and it was a really good bowel movement. so its worth a try and i hope it works for everyones cat as quickly as it worked for mine.

  3. strawberry
    March 17, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I use Lax-a-day which is approved by my veterinarian, and can be picked up in BC. I bought mine at Shoppers Drugmart, and you follow the instructions the same, starting off with 1/8th tsp. I’m not sure if you were able to get the Miralax online, as I found of online pet pharmacies only deliver within the US.

  4. PoppyBean
    March 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Hi, I’m in Canada, too. Miralax is U.S. – it’s called Restoralax in Canada. My (shelter) cat was prescribed this for chronic constipation by the shelter vet in Toronto. Restoralax is available here in grocery stores that have an in-store pharmacy, and in Shoppers Drug Mart (don’t know if B.C. has a Shoppers). Much cheaper in grocery stores. It’s powdered and tasteless, mixes well in canned food. The Princess was sent home on 1/4 tsp twice a day, but I’ve read a starting dose is 1/8 tsp, increasing if needed to 1/4 tsp.

    It’s also available online from …, I believe.

    Restoralax is also used for humans. It’s a very gentle laxative.

  5. kittymama1913
    March 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Hi, the 7 dose Miralax “bottle” lasts a really long time and it’s a powder, not pills. You definitly don’t want pills. Plus the powder will last longer. Be sure to start with 1/8 tsp or you may cause your cat to have cramps or become bloated. I give my Andyman 1/8 tsp each morning in his food unless he’s becoming “blocked” then I go to 1/8 tsp morning and evening meals. The 1/4 tsp bloated him too much. It has solved all our problems!!! Good Luck . Do you have a Walmart there? They carry it as do most drugstores.

  6. itssjustmonique
    February 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Can anyone help me out?

    I’ve been calling and looking around Safeway and London Drugs but they don’t have Miralax. I’m from BC, if that has any relevance. Does anyone know WHERE I can get some Miralax in stores?

    And I was looking on the website just in case I might have to order this online. But which Miralax should I purchase?
    1) 7 dose
    2) 14 dose
    3) 30 does
    4) travel kits (powder)

    I’ve noticed that these are pills, so am I supposed to break open he capsule and put the 1/4th tsp in his food?

    Thank you!!

  7. Jean Hofve DVM
    January 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Yes (anticipated pain may cause the cat to “hold it” too long) and yes (though not common). In either case, sounds like kitty needs a check-up!

  8. JoJo
    January 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Dr. Hofve,
    Can impacted anal glands in a cat cause chronic constipation/hard stools?

    And can extremely malodorous, hard stools in a cat be a sign/symptom of illness other than “just” constipation?

    Love you and your site! You rock!

  9. Jean Hofve DVM
    November 27, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Docusate (DSS) is mentioned under “other stool softeners in the article itself. Of course, the human product your friend is taking would be far too strong and extremely dangerous for a cat, but your vet can prescribe an appropriate dose or have it formulated at a compounding pharmacy.

    Amazingly, Vaseline works great for many cats and, because it is not absorbed by the body, is completely safe. I had a cat (Spirit, for whom Spirit Essences were named!) who loved the stuff and demanded a finger-full every night at bedtime, or any time I took a nap, and sometimes any time I even went in the bedroom! She probably consumed many jars of it over the years; but since she lived to the ripe old age of 20-1/2, I am pretty sold on the wonders of Vaseline!

  10. catdad4
    November 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    We have a 21 year old blind and deaf, kinda of a Russian Blue, member of our family,that was rescued and recently has been having problems with constipation to the point that part of a stool will get part of way out and then seems to get stuck, part in and part out, so I have been gently using a paper towel to help remove the problem (read that as VERY gently pulling it out).
    I have a “friend” that because of the medications I… er…um… HE has to take, also requires him to take a stool softener that the main ingredient is docusate sodium. I THINK I saw that mentioned in the comments but I can’t find it now. So I guess what I’m asking is this ok to using for my 21 year old family member?
    I was quite surprised to read about petroleum jelly, it just seems strange (to me anyway) that ANYTHING called petroleum ANYTHING should be ingested. But I guess I learned something today and will give that a try and see if it helps.
    So THANKS for educating me today, and ANY day you learn something new is a good day!
    I’ll keep you posted on how everything comes out… Well you know what I mean.

  11. Jean Hofve
    November 7, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Kristalose is a higher potency than Miralax, that is why it is available only by prescription. Due to the higher dose, it also has a greater potential for side effects.

  12. dolly llama
    November 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I have an elderly (18-ish) cat that has been having constipation issues. She has been getting only wet food with some added Benefiber and probiotics, as well as subQ fluids, as per vets recommendation. Because she was still having issues, (straining with no results) I tried the Miralax. The vet did not like this idea at all and made me switch to Krystalose. As far as I can tell, they are essentially the same thing? Can you enlighten me on this please? The Krystalose is a lot more expensive, perhaps because it requires a prescription. They had originally suggested lactulose but I am done shoving things down my cats throat. We both hate it.
    (Ultimately, she ended up needing an enema.)

  13. kaybee84
    October 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I caught my cat grunting and straining trying to go. I took him to the vet and he had to have two enemas to clear him out. The vet told me to give him 50 milligrams of colace twice a day. I had hard time trying to get the pill in him but some days we did. It didn’t seem to be working anyway. I called to ask the vet if there was something else we could give him that would be easier to give than the pill. He told me to do a 1/2 a teaspoon of Metamucil in his food. That jellied up the cats food and it took him all day to eat it. He new something was in there. Then I tried the Vaseline. A friend has the same trouble with their cat and it works wonders for them. My cat wouldn’t eat it and smearing it on his paws was not going to happen. I starting searching online for answers. I came across this site and saw miralax and how much it was working for other cats. I just started giving him 1/4 teaspoon of miralax twice a day in his food about a week ago. Four days in he was going much softer. Now he is going everyday again. I’m now going to drop his dose down to 1/8 teaspoon to maintain. I started higher because of the delay in time it took me to find something to work. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t getting backed up again. Miralax was definitely a life saver!

  14. mykitty
    September 23, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I am another singing the praises of MiraLax! My 17 year old Siamese was constipated for 3 days before I discovered this forum. Reading here about MiraLax, I bought the generic form at Walmart (their “Equate” brand) and on day 2 of giving him the Miralax, (started out 1/8 teaspoon, then day 2 bumped it up to 1/4 teaspoon) he had two stools, one about 1 inch and the other about 1.5 inches. It wasn’t a lot, but its a good start! Was almost ready to take him to the Vet. Now I will continue him on 1/8 teaspoon for a while. I will NEVER feed him dry food again!! Doctor Hofve of this forum is right folks, cats weren’t meant to eat dry food.

  15. CatAdvocat
    August 12, 2013 at 3:55 am

    Please don’t do that. See Dr. Jean’s article on this site about feeding rice to cats –

    You don’t mention if your cat is being fed canned or dry food. Dry food causes dehydration and many other problems. See article – “10 Reasons Why Dry Food Is Bad for Cats & Dogs”

    Dr. Jean writes: “As a holistic veterinarian and animal advocate with more than 18 years of experience and thousands of hours of research under my belt, I’ve concluded that dry food is not a fit diet for our cats and dogs–carnivores who need a meat-based diet. I constantly try to make the case against feeding dry food. But it’s really a hard concept to get across to people. Against me are the convenience and relatively low cost of dry food; and those are powerful opponents.

    In this article, I’ll present 10 reasons why dry food is so very bad for pets…and hopefully convince people who want optimal health and long life for their beloved cats and dogs that dry food isn’t going to get them there.”

    From –

    You should also research balanced raw feeding.

    “Study Supports Raw Meat Diet for Cats” –

    “Homemade Diets for Cats and Dogs” –

  16. jhofve77
    July 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

    He drinks because he has to, and I guarantee that he is still at least 3% dehydrated. Dietary moisture is critical; dry food is the absolute worst thing for both conditions (and that includes the dry versions of prescription foods). See for tips on getting dry food addicts converted. Otherwise, learn how to give fluids at home, because that’s the other solution for both.

  17. CrazyCatLady
    July 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Soooo, my 18y.o. has early stage kidney disease AND constipation. He HATES wet food and turns his nose up at any “people” food (turkey, “tuna” water, etc.) (Except milk. All of a sudden, he has been pouncing on me if I have milk. Never interested before.) HATES petromalt, etc. Not at all picky about what type of dry food. He was on a prescription kidney food, but I did some research and found some non-prescription options that are good. He loves it all as long as it’s dry! He drinks LOTS of water. I’m trying lactulose now, and we’ll see how that does. I’m so overwhelmed by all the differing opinions out there. I’ve heard that too much protein is bad for cats with KD, but it sounds like high protein, low carb is what cats should eat. Is there an answer for both? Kidney disease AND constipation?

  18. jhofve77
    March 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    LOL! As a vet, I can sure appreciate the vivid descriptions…it’s a subject that usually gets brought up at lunch, and usually in a nice restaurant…!

    It’s amazing how much a kitty can store up, but when the system has been completely empty, it can take a few days and multiple meals to, shall we say, save up enough for “disposal”!

    Fortunately, wet food is the remedy for both urinary tract and constipation, so hopefully you are home free! :)

  19. Mikkens
    March 31, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    THANKS for this article and especially the Bristol Stool Chart. Helped with post-op kitty care!

    Our adopted 9 year old cat turned out to have urinary crystals causing blockage. The surgery to remove four (4!) large crystals in bladder went well as did the flushing of his tract. Keeping him in separate room at home after 2 days post-op at vet, we noticed correct size pee deposits but no poop after 3 days being home. Then one tiny piece like 1 on bristol chart.

    Called vet, recommended pumpkin 1 tsp with each feeding of wet food, kept that up but freaking out going on day 5 (Easter weekend of course) with just a few more tiny pieces showing up. His appetite was incredible (loving the new special diet wet food vs. the old dry stuff), no vomiting, drinking water occasionally from a Cat Mate water fountain setup, grooming and behavior all normal. No howling or complaints, in vet handlers said best behaved cat they had in awhile – no struggled during treatments or handling.

    So, finally, day 5 evening unloaded four or five pieces shown as 1 on chart, then a long lumpy 2 on the chart. Sorry to be descriptive but figured might help someone wondering how many meals a cat can store up! We did notice that the special diet wet food is mostly water, so expecting small stools. So guessing by the time he finally went, probably 6-8 feedings at least. Yes, we were spoiling him with about a can a day of wet food in 3 to 4 feedings daily – mainly because we knew that gave him extra water to flush his urinary system out better and also distracted him from trying an end-run around the cone collar to lick his stitches.

    In way of background, 10.5 large polydactyl cat (5-7 pads per foot). He is thin for his size but energetic cat and probably has more wrong with him, but we’re happy he is eating and drinking without hassles and now doing the full litter box duty! Of course, when we get his stitches out next week, we’ll have the vet do some more tests to see if regular diet additives are needed to help his bowl movements.

    Oh, one last thing. We’re giving the pumpkin the credit, but today I did have him on my lap for 20-30 minutes just stroking his belly downward from rib cage towards backlegs along sides clear of stitches on belly. Can’t say if that helped, but he sure enjoyed it!

  20. achabilli
    December 30, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Oops, almost forgot—DO NOT go back to dry food! If she’s happily eating enough wet food, just be glad and let it be. I think the exclusively wet diet is now and will be in the long-run much better for your kitty.

  21. achabilli
    December 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Hi! I came upon this article and your comment b/c my 2 y.o. male kitty is now officially on 100% wet food [Wellness g/f beef & chicken] and he seems hungry midway b/w his two meals, each of half a 5.5 oz. can of food. He may just be whining in-between meals b/c the Fortiflora I’ve been adding during the food transition, (to prevent any g.i. discomfort) makes him react to his food as though it was laced with Kitty Crack! He was on Wellness dry indoor which had much more fiber and about 25 more calories. Now, my kitty has been pooping once a day, almost everyday. I’ve read that when on a high protein, low-carb wet diet, cats will have smaller, more compact poops with supposedly less odor. I also think the pooping all over the house is a cry for help—I just don’t know what kind of help she requires. (Don’t you wish they could spell it out for us dummies?) Is your cat the only animal in the house? Have their been any recent changes, people-wise, schedule-wise, even furniture-wise? Maybe something along those lines is contributing to stress/anxiety and in turn tensing up the digestive system, (I know that’s what happens to me). I guess I’m wondering if she really is constipated in the first place–you said she goes, just not every day and not soft. If not everyday, how many times per week? How hard is the poop? IMHO, I agree with jhofve77 that a vet visit with someone a bit more familiar with felines is in order. I think one of the first things they’ll do is palpate your baby’s abdomen and figure whether she really is constipated. I’m not sure cats on an all-wet diet should be expected to poop every single day. Its obvious that you care very much for your furry little beast & I have to say that I would have tried the all-new litter box and all-new litter approach too. I just think a vet visit would be/should be quite helpful. Best wishes to you and your baby cat!

  22. jhofve77
    December 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Is it not clear in the article about dry food? Usually I sound like a broken record: NO DRY FOOD NO DRY FOOD NO DRY FOOD. But I can make it more obvious! ;-)

    Cats don’t “hold it” to the point of illness. Pooping outside the box may be behavioral, but it is always a cry for help–something is wrong. OTOH, constipation is a physical problem.

    There are seventeen suggestions given in the article. Your vet apparently knows only one. I’d definitely recommend a second opinion, preferably from a vet who knows a little more about cats.

  23. pepper6511
    December 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Hi there – thanks for the quick response. I forgot to mention that I did speak to a vet. Their answer was to try pumpkin… which my cat rejected. She seems pretty hydrated. The vet seemed to be anti-laxative, but I couldn’t get a clear answer on adding dry food. Do you think the addition of dry food could be useful? I’m not sure if the benefit of adding dry food will outweigh the chance that it could absorb even more moisture… especially if she’s seemingly holding it in (if I’m right) by choice. Sorry to be annoying, I’m just at a loss short of taking her for an expensive, intrusive procedure that may make her even more uncomfortable… She goes, just not daily and not soft. :(

  24. jhofve77
    December 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Please re-read the article. Your questions are all answered there. It does not sound like you’ve taken her to the veterinarian at all, please do so as soon as possible in order to have the best chance for recovery.

  25. pepper6511
    December 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Hi! I’m hoping you might be able to help. My 1.5 year old cat is constipated… have been for a couple weeks. She’s on an exclusively wet food diet (Wellness grain free – which lately I’ve even been added a few spoons of water to). She’s playful, has an appetite, if you didn’t look at her litter box you’d have no idea she’s constipated. A few weeks ago, she pooped all over my apartment a few times over the course of a couple days. I bought her a new litter box and different liter and she went right away, but still not every day… and when she goes it’s still Type 1 – little hard balls. I suspect she’s holding it in for some odd reason but I can’t figure it out. I’ve been giving her 1/2 tsp of Vaseline but i’m not sure it’s doing much. Should I try to give her dry food? I worry that if her poos are already dry and hard, the dry food will make it work. Please help!

  26. jhofve77
    December 24, 2012 at 11:22 am

    The thing in pumpkin that works is fiber. Getting extra fiber and extra moisture into the cat is definitely part of the program, although as the article says, fiber may lose its effectiveness over time. Extra water is always vital for these kitties.

  27. jhofve77
    December 24, 2012 at 11:20 am

    You’re so welcome! I want to encourage all our readers–never hesitate to get a second opinion!

    I just love sub-q fluids–so when in doubt, always insist. At the very least, fluids almost always improve how the cat feels. Learn how to give fluids at home, and you can save yourself and your cat a lot of problems!

  28. ecogirlveghead
    December 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE! I’ve been so frustrated with my vet. My older kitty has been constipated for a loooonnnggg time since she suffered some nerve damage in her hind legs. I’ve tried moist food, hairball stuff, vaseline, diluted tuna liquid with ground flax. None of it helps her. I asked my vet what else I could do and if subcutaneous fluids would help. She said ‘NO sub fluids don’t help.’ Grrrrr. This whole article tells me I need a new vet!

  29. Melissasu
    September 8, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Hello – I wanted to say thanks for this post. It really helped us when our 12yo kitty was badly constipated. I wanted to share what worked for her, now that she is “back to normal”. The vet prescribed lactulose – it took a few days but it cleared her out. She’s now on Medical Fibre Response.

    I used to work at an animal hospital, and I know the foods they push aren’t always the best. But Fibre Response has been miraculous! I don’t say that lightly. She has not been constipated since, though the vet said she likely has megacolon. If it wasn’t for this food, we’d still be struggling, truly worth the price. She doesn’t need lactulose now, or anything other than hairball remedy. I hope this helps someone else – I remember how scared I was, and stressed, and how unwell our kitty was. It can get better.

  30. dougm_94
    August 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    $1,200 in vet bills later.. try these if nothing else works. They fixed my kitty.. who was struggling with hard stools:

    1. Docusate sodium (STOOL SOFTENER CAPSULES): this is the active ingredient used in STOOL SOFTENER CAPSULES for humans, available at any grocery or drug store. This is the EXACT SAME ingredient used in stool softener capsules for cats! It’s safe to use and you DO NOT need a prescription from a vet to buy this! Dosage: 1 pill per day (100mg)(I gave my kitty 2 on the first day). You will need to learn how to get your cat to swallow a pill, if you’ve never done this before. Tip: sit down, put cat between your legs, fold your legs behind its butt so it can’t squirm away, gently pry open its mouth (they’ll never voluntarily swallow a pill), stick pill on tongue (slightly back in mouth), close up mouth and hold their head up until they swallow.

    2. Shaved turkey breast (deli style) and PUMPKIN: My cat refused to eat his canned food if there was even just a *hint* of pumpkin in there. The trick is to stick a blob of PUMPKIN on a small piece of deli-style shaved turkey breast. Fold the breast over and around the pumpkin on all sides, so the pumpkin is mostly contained inside. Wrap that into another small piece of turkey breast. If your cat is like mine, it won’t be able to resist the turkey meat. It will want to eat all of the turkey meat, and will not be able to figure out a way to get rid of the pesky pumpkin besides licking it off the turkey. Really, it won’t mind the pumpkin at all, as long as there is shaved turkey breast to be had. Mission accomplished!

    3. You should also ADD WATER to your cat’s canned food (mix it in) and do not give them any more dry food (especially if they are older). Dry food will only make the problem re-appear.

    Follow these tips and your kitty will thank you.. and everyone will be relieved (especially your kitty!)

  31. emme
    August 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

    My cat had a lot of problems with constipation until today – hurray!!! I had switched litter, which I think was probably the onset of the problem (see above for my initial comment), and had tried pumpkin and other treatments without much success. Last night I cooked some brown rice for myself and decided to add a bit to my cat’s food and this morning her poo is back to normal! I used the short grained rice that you cook for a long time, not the instant stuff with seasonings. Hope this helps.

  32. jhofve77
    August 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Good grief! Poor kitty…and poor you! Fiber is the first thing vets usually try, and exactly as you describe, it works at first, then makes the problem worse. Good old vaseline is great…just give it between meals as it can inhibit absorption since it coats the GI tract. Most colon formulas also contain excessive fiber, so be careful with that. How about massage? I’ve known folks that kind of “instinctively” massaged their cats’ tummies a few times a day, and that actually did help. If you can get her to be more active, that is also beneficial for lymph flow and “movements” of all kinds! There’s also a wonderful book “Acu-Cat” that shows you how to acupressure the necessary points. It is written by a couple of gals “down the road” from me that run clinics and are totally awesome with this stuff. I have only just begun my training with them though I have known them for many years, Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow. I’m sure Amazon has it, or I expect you can call them at Tallgrass Publishers to order.

  33. jhofve77
    August 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    That’s a very good point! Switching litter is just like switching food–gradually mix increasing amounts of the new litter in with the old, and being very aware of the cat’s reaction. It may be possible to *slowly* convert your kitty to a different litter over the course of a week (or two or three). But it’s definitely the cat’s choice! I like the idea of using renewable resources (walnut shells, corn, wheat) over clay/clumping clay, but it doesn’t work for every cat.

  34. emme
    August 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Just a comment to any and all concerned about cat constipation – my cat too is having a problem, and one thing that I have noticed and am correcting today is a change in litter. I never thought that it would make a difference, but I had switched to Blue Buffalo natural ground walnut shell litter, since it is extremely low tracking. However, it has a distinctly sweet smell and my cat doesn’t seem to like it – I even noticed her going outside one day, and I’ve never seen her do that before!!! So I’m switching the litter box back to Tidy Cats in the hopes that between the old brand of litter, the Paw Gel for hair balls, and some pumpkin (she’s already on canned food), the problem will be solved!

  35. Mitzi
    August 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I’m with you! I can’t see my cats suffering. One of my cats manifested “something” which remained undiagnosed; her tail was limp, couldn’t “hold” it up, was walking on her knees, she was in pain. Her regular vet said she’s ok – that it’s nothing! I took her to a holistic vet that couldn’t tell me more either. At least gave her a acupuncture and laser treatment; blood test seems to be ok (low on potassium), some blood in the urine due to an urinary tract infection. The holistic vet recommended some multivitamins, Benfotiamine, D + k spray, homeopathic remedies for urinary tract infection and osteoporosis. My kitty was okay but still walking with difficulties and lately being constipated. A chiropractic treatment at the holistic clinic wreck her left leg – they use VOM gun. However, I left few $$$ less and no diagnostic. I took her to a traditional animal chiropractor who told me that she has a pinched nerve and her sacrum/iliac joint is off track. His treatments helped her a lot but he is far away from where I live and I can’t take twice a week – I can take her for a tune-up once every two weeks. Meantime she “developed” constipation – one thing she never had. She was an a raw food diet but switched to a premium holistic canned to mix in her medication. Since no one can tell if it’s a scheleto-muscular issue or a neurological one I’m currently looking for a second opinion. For constipation I gave her Benefibre that worked at the beginning but then constipated her even more. I moved to petroleum jelly and now I give a bit of Healthy Colon Plus by Omega Alpha and Perfect Food Original by Garden of Life along with Recovery SA and Sasha Blend supplement and NU-CAT multivitamins. I had her on Artho-Ionx from VetIonix which is homeopathic. Since the bit of Healthy Colon Plus and Super Green Formula (perfect Food original)she is fine. There are homeopathic remedies like Sepia or Nux Vomica but I wasn’t successful in giving it. Both Healthy Colon and Super Green Formula contain prebiotics, probiotic and enzymes besides their others ingredients.

  36. catsinoz
    July 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Hi, thank you very much for this article.

    I have a constipated Burmese, who has been yowling at her litter tray and leaving us little hard nuggets, just like number 1 on the stool chart. Sometimes swinging between very hard stools to a nasty tar smelling loose bowel movement. She would also quite regularly vomit back her food within an hour of eating. When I mention the vomiting to the vet, you just get a response of ‘that’s normal for some cats, they do do that’. She has probably got a bit of IBS.

    After reading your article and the ‘evils’ of dried food I have this week, moved all my kitties onto wet food. The Burmese and the 17 year old girl have taken very well to it, but our youngest is a little suspicious, but after a couple of days she seems to be taking very well to it. We’ve just let her explore the food and ‘play’ with it, she likes nothing better than sticking her paw in the bowl and flicking it out!

    The Burmese now seems a lot better and she is not yowling in her litter tray and has produced a stool which is a lot softer than the hard marbles she was dropping. Never has a cat mom being so eagerly waiting for a cat to poop!!!!

    I’ve put her onto Ziwipeak, made in New Zealand, and so far she has gobbled up every bowl put down for her. The others I have put onto Wellness grain free canned food. I know many people would argue that making my own food is best, but I don’t have the freezer capacity to make a very large batch of food, nor the time to make it more regularly! So, for my little pride they are going to have to make do with canned food! So far however, they don’t seem to upset!

    It is my intention to rotate them round a couple of brands so they just don’t get stuck on one flavour/brand.

    Like a lot of cat parents out there, I got dupped into the ‘dry is best’ campaign, but now I have seen the light and hopefully done my three girls a favour!

    Thank you again for your informative article!

  37. jhofve77
    July 3, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I’m publishing this comment because it contains interesting information…but I would STRONGLY recommend against doing this at home without discussing it with your veterinarian and being trained in the technique. It’s very easy to cause a rectal tear, which causes instant, massive, and fatal peritonitis. There are many causes of constipation (dry food, of course, is chief among them!), and you could do your cat great harm doing it on your own.

  38. lzambeni
    July 3, 2012 at 1:12 am

    I also paid $100s of dollars for a kitty enema. I’ve heard horror stories about people being charged $800 (!) so i think it depends on where you live, and how greedy your vet is – but 100s of dollars does not seem uncommon from what i’ve read in my research online. A lot of people sadly can’t afford that and are given the horrible choice of having their cat put down. No one should have that choice! I recently discovered in my research online about that there is a product made just for cats and dogs called “Pet-ema” which is just DSS/Colace 125mg/6ml and glycerin – both of which are entirely safe for cats. Colace is not a stimulant laxative (which should be avoided!)but gently pulls moisture into the stool. Pet-ema comes in 2 sizes 6 ml or 12 ml. A cat is only supposed to have 6 ml at a time SLOWLY – injecting the liquid fast can cause a reflex vomiting response. An hour later you can repeat the 6ml dose if needed. A lot of vets actually use this brand and some will even sell you them for $14 or more each to use at home on cats with chronic constipation problems. However, you can get them much cheaper online without a prescription at and some other sites for less than $3.00 each. The 12 ml size only costs about 50cents more so i found it cheaper to buy the 12 ml size and mark the plunger (its like a big syringe) at the 1/2 way point so i only give 6ml at a time. It’s important to talk softly to your cat and explain everything to them – they will understand your tone that you are trying to help them. Still they will not like it and will struggle somewhat – there’s no getting around that. It’s also important to inject it slowly or it will trigger a vomiting reflex. I gave my elderly cat one of these for the first time ever tonite and it worked GREAT! Every other testimonial i’ve read about them online also says they’ve worked wonders in no time at all. So here’s how i did it. I got tips from others online who wrote about their successful techniques using Pet-ema on their cats:

    I laid my cat on it’s side (easier to hit the target that way) on a towel on the countertop, lubed the tip of the insertion tip well with some astroglide (or KY jelly) and inserted it. My cat had a hardened poo-poo stuck just inside the anal opening and when i first injected the Pet-ema slowly it just leaked right back out – about 1/2 of it. So i injected the 2nd 1/2 of the syringe after inserting the tip farther in and the 2nd time it stayed in. Almost immediatly he pooped out a small amount of the liquid mixed with feces (a few drops). So i took him in the bathroom where i have a linoleum floor (easy clean up) and where i had put the litter box in advance so i could corrale him in there till he had success. He wouldn’t use the litter box but over about 15 minutes he squatted and strained and dripped and squirted out some liquid stool mixed with the solution which i could then wipe up with toilet paper off the linoleum floor – which i afterwards washed and bleached (be prepared for a mess – your cat may not make it to the litter box or may not want to use it. Sometimes when they’re constipated they associate the pain of trying to go with the litter box and will go outside the box). Finally he pooped out a large hard round stool. He did pant at one point and threw up some cat food so i may have injected the Pet-ema a little too fast – live and learn – next time i’ll go even slower. But he then quieted down. Finally i let him out of the bathroom and he drank some water. About an hour later he ran to his litter box and pooed out a HUGE AMOUNT of poo! SUCCESS!!!!!!! Unlike the small hard lumps of dried out poo i had been finding in his litter box in the week before this was moist and coated with the glycerine/Pet-solution. This stuff works and i think the only reason vets don’t tell you about it is because enemas are a huge revenue-maker for them. Sadly people don’t know about this and have to chose between spending a fortune or having their cat put down. I want everyone to know about Pet-ema! From now on I am even going to clean the plastic Pet-ema syringe, bleach it and refill it with my own mixture of gycerin (which you can buy dirt cheap at the drugstore or online) and colace (125mg/6ml glycerin). Gycerin alone should also work – that is what Pediatric Fleets Glycerin (NOT phosphate) enemas are. (Never use phosphate enema solutions – they are cat toxic!) Goodluck to anyone in this bind – you CAN do it! :) I’m an RN but i think with enough patience anyone CAN do this! People do do this at home all the time safely – just read the testimonials online – google around.

    Vet Depot is the cheapest place i’ve found (and the cheapest shipping):

    Having said all this it’s important to have your cat on wet food. Dry food is bad for cats and causes all sorts of problems.

  39. Stephanie
    July 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for the quick reply about the petroleum jelly. Now I don’t feel so bad about giving it to her every day. It seems to help her constipation (and hairball) issue and she really enjoys having some at bed time, so it’s a win-win.

  40. jhofve77
    June 27, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Pumpkin simply adds a little fiber and a lot of extra carbs. I don’t recommend it.

  41. jhofve77
    June 27, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Petroleum jelly is perfectly safe to give daily. It is inert in the body. My cat Spirit got Vaseline every day (sometimes 2 or 3 times a day) for her entire life, and she lived to 20-1/2!!

  42. Stephanie
    June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Our three-year-old female cat must be one of the unlucky ones to have constipation despite an all wet food diet. We feed her the non-gluten chicken and turkey varieties of Fancy Feast (our last cat developed diabetes later in life and got very sick, so we are very anti-dry food). We give her a 3 oz can in the morning and a 3 oz can in the evening. We even mix a couple tablespoons of water into it because she hates to drink water (I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drink out of her water bowl since she started eating wet food). Despite this, she still has issues and only poops every other day or two.

    Is petroleum jelly safe to give every day? It seems like it’s the only thing that helps her problem and she loves the stuff. I know different vets have different opinions on this, so sometimes it worries me. We haven’t tried adding any Metamucil or pumpkin to her food, but this will probably be our next step. Giving her Miralax concerns me because I don’t want her to have the opposite issue or make her sick.

    Thanks for the very informative article on this condition. I’m hoping we can get it under control before it becomes any worse. Our vet seems unconcerned, but seeing her straining in the box sometimes and pooping only little lumps at a time concerns me.

    Recently she’s had an issue with pooping on the floor sometimes when she’s having constipation issues. She’ll run around like crazy and keep licking her butt like she’s trying to get something out. Not sure what that’s all about, but we will probably be taking her to the vet soon to get checked out. This doesn’t seem to happen as much if she gets petroleum jelly every night, though.

  43. PrncssZ
    June 23, 2012 at 12:09 am

    My cat is 10 years old and is suddenly constipated. She has never had this problem before. It started on Saturday when I noticed her box did not have any poo in it, but then on Sunday she went some. Monday we had to take her to the vets for an unrelated surgery, so there was no food or water then. We had to put her on paper litter instead of regular and she has not pooped since then, but the thing is everything else is totally normal. She drinks water and urinates normally and acts like her normal self. I then read about giving her pumpkin to help with the constipation. I mix it in with her canned food, could that be stopping the pumpkin from being effective? I read above about petroleum jelly being given on an empty stomach, is it the same with pumpkin? Thank you.

  44. jhofve77
    June 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

    I cannot give you specific advice for your cat. Please get a second opinion.

  45. clemclem44
    June 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    They make us leave him. They give him the enema and they won’t let us pick him up until he’s made another bowel movement. It was less expensive to have a cancer tumor removed off his head than the first enema. maybe they aren’t being clear about how impacted he is?

    1/4 tsp. of Miralax seemed to do ok. His feces are very large and his anus looked really swollen. No one has really said the word “mega-colon” but I wonder.

    So for now I give him is wet food with about 1/8th of a cup of water added to it to make soup, with a little less than 1/4 tsp of Miralax. He’s an outdoor only kittie so figuring out how often he’s going is difficult. I know when he’s backed up because he acts differently and I often can see him straining.

    We got slippery elm as well and petroleum jelly. Do you use slippery elm with Miralax or is that overkill? Norman won’t touch the petroleum jelly – any tips on what you’ve added to get your kitty to eat it?

    Rather than enema’s could we do suppositories?
    So far we seem to have dodged this episode though it may be short lived. I’d prefer to do some sort of maintenance with him.

  46. jhofve77
    June 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    $300 for an enema? I’d seriously consider getting a second opinion–preferably with a vet who is willing to show you how to do an enema at home. It’s not something you want to try without being instructed exactly how to do it; and you also have to have the right equipment. Done wrong, it could rupture his colon–which is pretty much fatal, even if emergency surgery were an option (and most vets won’t do it).

  47. clemclem44
    June 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I have a 9ish year old 3-legged male manx kittie. He’s also got a prett sever spinal deformit so his spine is somewhat of a “J”. He’s baffled past vets that he can even go to the bathroom at all. He never seemed to have problems until this last year. We alwas fed dry – so that has immediatly changed after I did a quick look on the intranet. I put about 4 tablespoons of wet food in a bowl with a teaspoon of pumpkin puree & 1/4 cup water and 2ml of Lactulose and make his soup. He’s been eating this for the last couple of weeks and seemed super happy. Last nigh I noticed him once again trying to poop, struggling and I can see a kernal of feces trying to make it’s way free but to not avail. This morning he didn’t greet me for his food the way he had just the day before. Our vet said the pumpkin may be too much fiber so I’ve used less and less of that. I’m at a loss. where I’m sure he wasn’t getting enough water there is NO WAY he’s not trippled his water intake and here we are again. Enema’s are running us $300 per visit and we can’t keep doing this. I’ve never given him an enema but wonder if I could give it a try? I’m going to try to get him to eat some petroleum jelly tonight and I read that milk can potentially help? Mega colon has not been mentioned at this point but I’m at a loss how upping his water intake significantly has got us right back here again. His last enema at the vet was May 3rd. I want to try everything but I also want to make sure I know what actually works… I hate seeing him struggle.

  48. BCCCats
    March 28, 2012 at 10:35 am

    My cat Dizzy had chronic constipation until I got him off of grains. I found him a natural cat food that has prebiotics in it specifically for gastro issues (just like people take yogurt, etc). The Alpha food is a really great dry food for his issues, and I also give him the Natural Balance L.I.D. cans that also don’t have grains.

  49. jhofve77
    February 8, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Kidney disease causes dehydration, which of course is a big factor in constipation. Oddly though, in practice I almost never saw the two problems together at the same time.

    Most cats do develop kidney disease–but it is very preventable by avoiding the two main cauess: don’t over-vaccinate (especially for panleukopenia), and don’t feed dry food!

  50. Debra
    February 8, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Sorry if this is a repeated post – tried once, and it didn’t seem to work.

    I am alittle surprised that there is no mention (I didn’t see one, anyway) of the relationship between constipation and kidney disease. If your kitty is constipated, I would definately have them tested for kidney function – no matter how young they are. This way, if the lab results show that there is kidney dysfunction in early stages – you can slow the progress down early. I am learning now that 90% of cats develop kidney disease … it’s just an individual matter of time. Some develop it very young – most in their middle ages – and it’s a bummer. :-(

  51. jhofve77
    February 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Because mineral oil is liquid, there is a small risk of it “going down the wrong pipe” into trachea instead of esophagus; it would be a serious problem if it gets into lungs.

  52. jack
    February 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Please explain why you mentioned mineral oil in your main article, but didn’t mention any risks associated with it’s use, and then explain why it’s “a litle risky to administer” (at least more than “it causes health problems”). Thanks

  53. jhofve77
    February 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

    If your cat is constipated, it is essential to get rid of all dry food! It is the main contributor to the dehydration underlying the condition!

  54. linda
    February 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I would say definitely do not mix the wet and dry food together as they have different absorption times and may cause fermentation in the intestines which exacerbate the problem. Try to switch to (home-made) all wet food.

  55. linda
    February 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I have an chronically obstipated manx with no tail who has several severe problems such as a major trauma before we got him which broke his pelvis and head as well he was severely burned across his back so what we’ve found over a 5 year period is that bulk such as fiber causes a more severe obstipation needing a ‘dig-out’ because cats are true carnivores and do not respond the same way as human intestines do to bulk so this was very dangerous for us but adding polyethylene glycol in powdered form keeps the stool pliable, lots of organic different colour veggies from above and below ground (no tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions, mushrooms or carbs of any kind) and feeding organic raw red meats and never ever add bones in any form to the diet nor calcium supplements which exacerbate the situation. they may get their calcium requirements from the green leafy veggies but the most important thing is to look after what will likely end the cats life now and not in the future. obstipation can be life-threatening so just give a combined MSM, chondroitin and glucosamine supplement to the food to aid tendons which support bone. my cat has never drank a drop of water since we got him and that is a good sign that he is well hydrated because he gets his moisture from his food which is the natural way for a cat and infact, if your cat drinks it means it is not properly hydrated. we are now using slippery elm bark and marshmallow root in powder form as well as blue-green algae and barley grass greens which is super good for their digestion. we add flax seed oil and not fish based because we also feed him raw organic liver once a day which he devours and helps with his condition so we don’t want to OD on vitamin A. I just tried a squirt of microlax and that moved him quite quickly so that was extremely helpful. but I could go on for hours about this subject….hope this helps even a little. trust is also very important :)

  56. Terra
    January 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Thank you so much for this!! I actually feed my kitties Wellness and I will def try the butter!!! What is the approximate ratio your mixing of butter to wet food?

    thanks a million!~

  57. JeanM
    January 24, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I LOVE this information and am laughing so hard! I will try it with my kitty as it’s something I always keep in the fridge. GREAT TIP!

  58. jhofve77
    January 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for this story! It feels wonderful to know our work is making a difference!!! Please give that kitty a kiss for me!! :)

  59. Audrey
    January 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I was talking to a friend who explained her 16 yr old cat screamed when it went to the litter box. The cat was anti-social, hid under the bed, and didn’t want to be picked up or to be pet. The cat didn’t even groom itself very well. I suggested to her to get the cat off of the dry food and go to a quality wet. The next time I saw her she said the cat for the 1st time in its life was having regular bowel movements. The cat after a week of the different diet now greets her at the door and is running around and playing like a kitten. Her vet says the cat is deaf and is no longer afraid of noises as an explanation for the the complete turnaround, and low thyroid levels caused the constipation. My friend has your wonderful articles to thank for giving her cat a new life. I just wish the cat could have a do-over for the last 16 years of pain.

    Thank you for this site

  60. Robert77
    January 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Hi! I have a healthy 16 years old female brown tabby cat and having a constipated problem. I noticed many cat food and dog food) is lacking one thing, natural fat. I bought an Organic Valley pasture butter in green box and mixed in Wellness wet canned cat food. Voila! My cat loved it! Her stool came out beautiful! Like a charm!

    I am not a vet or anything like that. Most pets, their livers function, do not produce enough oil without fat. Without fat, the liver will stop making oil and can cause organs to slow-down. Pets will have difficult times in going to the bathroom as their stools became hard and dry. Organic butter will give pets energy and makes stool softer!

    The Organic Valley butters is available in some supermarkets and natural health food stores. The website is

    I hope this information will help many pets to get better again!


  61. jhofve77
    January 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

    That’s great! Big caution though, to other readers: Some of Fleet’s enemas contain a large amount of phosphorus and are highly toxic to cats. Please consult your veterinarian before trying this treatment!

  62. david bee
    January 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I just paid over $1200 ’cause my Iggy’s been constipated. Vet said they cleaned him out. Well, since last Monday, no bowel movement. Went to Target’s for a baby enema kit – none!!!! Lo and behold, the pharmacist said to use baby suppositories. She gave me a box of Fleet Pedia-Lax. It’s 4 ml (perfect) of glycerin, with about a 1-inch nipple on it (perfect). Well, I bought ’em, came home, went on line, and found a site about using them. Needless to say, I gave him one this morning, and less than 15 minutes my Iggy’s been in the litter box twice! Yiipppppeeeee!!!!!! For less than $2, and no BIG vet bill.

  63. jhofve77
    December 31, 2011 at 7:05 am

    I agree, you need a second opinion, preferably from a feline veterinarian who really understands cats. You should be able to transfer all records to a new veterinarian and not have to go through a whole new round of tests.

  64. jhofve77
    December 31, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Not that I know of.

  65. Carla
    December 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Addendum to my post earlier this evening. It also occurred to me that I gave kitty some hairball treatment earlier this week (2x). It is the non-petroleum kind. Is there any data showing that this stuff can cause constipation or gastritis?

  66. Carla
    December 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I just got back from the vet, where I spent $775, only to confirm what I already knew… that my cat is constipated. Her last BM was 3 days ago, which I would rate as 1-2 on the Bristol chart. I wasn’t too worried the first day without BM, but then noticed by day two she was not eating. Today, the vet said at first, she didn’t feel stool when she palpated, but when the xray came back it confirmed my suspicion. Not sure why the vet wouldn’t listen to me. I’ve had my kitty for 13 yrs, and when she suddenly goes from 2 bm’s a day to zero, it’s obvious. Seems like so many vets want to rule out everything else before focusing on the obvious. Less is more in my book. Yet even after confirmation by xray, they didn’t do an enema, or a suppository, or even disimpact her. They said her colon is pretty full of stool, but think she has been unable to move her bowels because she is dehydrated(yet all her blood work, including her hematocrit was normal). I explained to them 3x that she has been drinking water, yet they wanted to hospitalize her to give her fluids by IV. They agreed to do the fluids subQ when I pushed them on it. I even asked them if I could do the fluids at home (after all I am an RN), but they said they wouldn’t recommend it. Sometimes feels like I’m just being gouged for more money. I took her to this vet because it was the only one I could get into on such short notice. Yet, I am nearly $800 poorer and my cat is still full of pooh! She was given a dose of pepcin and antibiotic while there, as vet thinks there is possibly some gastro-enteritis going on too. We came away with a bottle of lactulose and a jar of baby food. Vet said to start lactulose tomorrow after I get some food in her. She wants me to bring kitty back for more fluids tomorrow if she is not eating or pooping yet. I think I need a different vet, but I can’t afford to go through this all over again with someone else.

    As you have expressed in this post, I believe dry food started this problem. But my cat’s situation is complicated by her severe food allergies. I’ve had to get her cortisone shots, and have used generic chlortrimeton at times with short term results. Over the last 3yrs or so, I’ve tried every food in town to no avail. As a last resort, I tried Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein. With the HP, her allergies were brought under control. The vet said to give her no other food. She has been on the HP for about 30+ days, and now consequently, completely stopped up. Even with drinking plenty of water. Unfortunately, the HP is not available in cans. But with the consequence of the HP being the constipation and/or enteritis, I am prepared to accept and live with the dermatitis, as it’s not a life threatening condition. I hope the lactulose helps. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t have money for another trip to the vet.

  67. BarbiD
    December 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    my kitty is on 1ml of Lactulose 1 to 3 times a day. hope that helps.

  68. jhofve77
    December 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I disagree; IMO the worst canned food is better than the best dry food. The moisture is that critical, and the processing is that harmful.

    I know people who have taken months or even years to get their cats to eat something–anything–besides dry food. I’ve been through it with my own cats. It may require extreme patience and extraordinary persistence, not to mention downright sneakiness! It was three years before my cat Spirit took her first bite of raw food, at the tender age of 18. Oh, yeah, she was a stubborn and highly opinionated old girl, as anyone who knew her will tell you! But…she had raw food *available* the whole time. And those little tiny steps of diet change that I started when she was 15 (which was when I “got it” about cat nutrition…and BTW the first thing she ate–besides dry food–was lasagna!), gave her more healthy years than I could have imagined; she made it to 20-1/2, and was active until the end.

    I have no doubt that every single person who reads this or any other article on this site is a loving cat guardian. They wouldn’t even be looking at this site in the first place if they didn’t care deeply about their kitties. Being philosophical for a moment, though, I believe that we each *choose* how we react to any particular thing, and feeling “guilty” is one of those choices (as is feeling angry, or happy, for that matter!). I just tell the truth as I know it, from 18 years of research and practical veterinary experience. My personal mission is to advocate for the cats, not to worry whether someone might be offended. There are plenty of folks who are more “politically correct,” and say more popular things, and who have more popular websites, that will support darn near any opinion. On *this* website, as my childhood hero, Popeye, would say, “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam!” (And yes, I still eats my spinach!)

    Once again, for those who want to switch their cats to a wet diet, here is the article on how to do it! (Or copy and paste:

  69. Carolyn
    December 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I want to thank you so much for this website and your discussion on constipated cats. We had been having a serious problem with Felix for a couple years and were getting increasingly worried. She (yes, Felix is a female) no longer drank much water and we were feeding her dry food. I tried a stainless steel water fountain and she looked on it with disdain. She walked away from pumpkin that I tried to introduce in her diet.

    Last year we spent $700 at the vet with x-rays, 3 enemas, etc, etc. We could tell she was in pain and she pooped outside her box, and only pooped hard pellets every 5-7 days. I tried giving her enemas myself, but that wasn’t easy and it was no long-term solution. So I read your discussion and we switched her to canned food. A vet on another web site suggested mixing equal amounts of water with the wet food, and Felix loved it.

    Then we introduced miralax. We tried 1/8 tsp twice a day mixed with her soupy canned food. She couldn’t taste the miralax and lapped it up. In 3 days she had a hard poop, and we increased the miralax to 1/4 tsp twice a day. What a miracle! She poops every other day, and she propably passes 6-8 inches of poop that is smooth and soft – Type 4 on your scale. (Felt through a plastic bag, of course.) She has not thrown up at all recently,and she is pooping in her litter box. I had read that cats poop outside the box when they are constipated and associate the box with pain, and I’m sure that was the case with Felix.

    Felix is happy and so are we. My sister who is a regular doc says she prescribes miralax for children who are constipated, and many are on it for years with absolutely no problems. In Felix’s case, I believe we will always keep her on the regimen of canned food, added water, and miralax. She is an older cat and needs the extra help this gives her. Thanks so much for all the info on your website! We are so grateful, and so is Felix.

  70. Mim
    December 24, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I should clarify that when I feed A/D, it is by mixing it with warm water and through a syringe. He won’t eat it by himself, just like other wet foods. And per your instructions on shifting food, I have left wet out for 12 hours. He just won’t eat it. Lick it, yes (morsels, not pâté) but not eat.

  71. Mim
    December 24, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Some cats simply will not eat wet food, mine included. So I think the above comment, and others like it, isn’t fair, and could induce guilt. I’ve tried every kind of wet food over 17 years with my cat, including the top end. He’ll lick gravy, but not eat the food. I’ve been at my wits end trying, because I know it’s better for him.

    But in my view, eating high-end dry food with no grain is better than a cat starving, or eating trash wet food. I do give my cat A/D as both a rescue food when he’s inappetant and have used it longer term as well. It works. And again, better that he live, than waste away. I also give him fluids every three days. I will try pumpkin. Please recognize that there are many of us who have tried to feed wet food. We are still loving cat owners.

  72. jhofve77
    December 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Sorry, I cannot give you a dose for your cat. Please consult your veterinarian.

  73. Loretta Macnab
    December 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

    My 17 yr old oriental shorthair has been constipated for several days now. I have given her a small (1drop) of lactulose. I don’t know how much to give her as she only weighs about 4 lbs and I don’t want to overdose her on it.

    Can you give me a dosage that would work and not hurt?

  74. jhofve77
    December 9, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I’m surprised that a lot of commenters are still feeding dry food to their constipated cats. In a word: DON’T! All dry food is dehydrating to the cat, and all will worsen the problem.

    I see that a lot of commenters are also using Hill’s products, usually at the recommendation of their veterinarian. Veterinarians get little or no education on nutrition in vet school, and their continuing education comes from the Hill’s rep. Hill’s foods are expensive because of the money they spend on marketing; but they make up for it by using cheap, unhealthy ingredients. I do not recommend Hill’s products.

    Ingredients of Hill’s l/d canned: Brewers Rice, Chicken by-Product Meal, Pork Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Soybean Meal, Pasta Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Soy Fiber, Dried Egg Product, Fish Meal, Lactic Acid, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil…NO meat, LOTS of carbs (~40%!), and three genetically modified soy products.

    Ingredients of Hill’s w/d canned: Water, Pork Liver, Pork By-Products, Chicken, Powdered Cellulose, Corn Starch, Oat Fiber, Guar Gum…Some actual chicken meat, but 3 kinds of fiber (including powdered cellulose, which is–literally–sawdust), and corn starch. The excessive fiber will probably help at first, but ultimately it can cause more irritation than benefit, and your cat’s digestive tract will be all the more damaged by then.

  75. Don
    December 8, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    My cat loves pumpkin and canned tuna with mineral oil.That’s one blend following the vet enema to get him back to normal. His normal food is L/D to which i add 1 tsp mineral oil to 3tsp wet food.
    How much canned W/D do you add the 2 tbl spoons of warm canned pumpkin to. Hopefully the pumpkin/l/d mix will end up enough. Still too early in our home care to tell.

  76. Jennifer
    December 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Ooops! I misread and gave ingredients off the dry food. The canned still contains “sawdust” and corn starch and pork by-products. It appears to have more meat than the dry, but would have to do a dry mass calculation to know for sure. And I don’t know if Hills sources there meat from US/Canadian/New Zealand sources rather than the more questionable ones. Additionally, I would recommend consulting with a vet who specializes or is knowledgeable in precise nutritional requirements for kitties re: the amount of pumpkin you are adding. My holistic vet, who has studied nutrition extensively, has advised much less than that. It is my understanding that too much plant product added to a balanced diet can potentially throw off a cat’s pH and lead to issues such as urinary crystal formation. I believe that cats’ systems, in general, are more sensitive to this balance that dogs.

  77. Jennifer
    December 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Hills diets are not really food. Have you looked at the ingredient label? First 4 ingredients are: “Brewers rice, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, powdered cellulose.” Quick point: powdered cellulose is basically sawdust and the other ingredients are by-products of other production processes rather than included due to their nutritional value. They’re cheap and useless. If you want to find out what these ingredients really are, Dr. Hofve probably has some of this info on this site although it’s been a while since I have accessed the nutrition info here. I recommend the book “Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts about Pet Food” by Ann N. Martin. For some quick facts regarding the above ingredients, see

    I work for a health food store for dogs and cats and we are constantly working to educate ourselves on what products are healthy for our pets. Real species-appropriate food is best and not by-products.

  78. jhofve77
    December 2, 2011 at 4:16 am
  79. Kristin
    December 2, 2011 at 1:17 am

    How do I convince a very picky kitty to switch to canned food? My other cats like it just fine, but this guy absolutely refuses to have anything to do with it. I’ve tried weaning him off the dry food, mixing some in with the dry, even cold turkey. It only results in a very unhappy, hungry cat who follows me around all day crying. Not surprisingly, I had to take him in to the vet last Saturday and it turned out he was constipated. Just now he started growling again like he does when he’s in pain. I looked at his bum and he has a little bit of fluid leaking out, meaning possible obstruction. I’m worried and, quite honestly, going broke, and I still have to get my dog to the vet for a different problem. I’ve been giving him the Vaseline treatment for cats, but apparently it’s not enough…

  80. l. connolly
    November 20, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    cats will vomit when an enema is given too quickly or too voluminously. go slowly, a little at a time, over at least five minutes or more if your cat is accepting

  81. Amanda Watson
    November 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    My 14 year old cat Snickers has had CRF for 2 years now. As she has aged and the fact that she has CRF has worsened. I now give her fluid treatment at home at least three times or more a week. Because she gets constipated more frequently and my vet bills have gone up I have started to treat her at home when she is constipated. When I took her to the vet they always gave her fluids, lac tu lose, and an enema. I could never bring my self to giving her an enema but when I see signs of constipation, I giver her fluid treatment everyday, lac tu lose more often, and laxire more often. She doesn’t mind the fluid treatment at all ( I have to give her an IV) as a matter of fact she purrs during it. My cat seems a little bit more worst off than yours. Because her Kidneys are failing it has triggered other health problems as well. But I can tell when she is happy and feeling better and when she is miserable. I have had her for a long time. I hope I helped you

  82. jhofve77
    November 13, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Sorry, I can’t give individual veterinary advice. You need to work with your vet to find a program that works for *your* cat.

  83. Sandy
    November 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    My 13 yrs young female kitty is on cisapride and laxalose and laxatone. STILL NO POOP… My biggest problem is she will only eat DRY FOOD. any suggestions??

    The vet gave me a/d hills can and I feed her that off of my finger, but now she of course will not come near me.

  84. jhofve77
    November 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

    No we don’t have a way to accept pictures at this time….but working on it! :) Sorry I cannot give you specific advice for your cat, please discuss options with your vet.

  85. Val
    November 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    is there a place i can send a picture? yes i know he needs to lose some weight, i got him a harness & leash, want to try & train him on that. i adopted him @ 1 yr old because of his size, i could tell by the size of his paws he would be a big boy. also, he is twice as long and twice as tall as my 7lb, 12 yr old normal size cat. he uses the toilet as a water bowl with his back feet on the floor–most cats have to jump up on the seat. i’m telling you he is huge, not just somewhat overweight. so as to the constipation– do you think the mirilax, or any other solution mentioned, would be better than the benefiber?……..V.

  86. jhofve77
    November 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Just match the look of the cat’s stool to the pictures!

  87. Mary Smith
    November 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    PLease explain how to use/score the Bristol Stool Chart

  88. jhofve77
    November 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    At 29 lbs, Bubba is obese, unless he is secretly a Canadian lynx! Sorry but as they say, acknowledging the problem is the first step in solving it. Srsly, getting his weight down would help immensely! Beyond the many possibilities mentioned in the article, I cannot give doses or any other veterinary advice for any individual case.

  89. Val
    November 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    lots of useful information here, now i just need to pick a route to take. My 4yr old male cat, Bubba, started w/ the constipation thing about 6 months ago. he weighs……okay get ready……29lbs !! He is not really fat but is a huge cat. when i noticed he was not acting himself i brought him to a vet, not my regular which i regret. regardless to say i have not brought him back there after close to 800.00 on x-rays, tests, etc. they said he was constipated & gave him an enema, told me to add benefiber to his wetfood to keep the pipes flowing. i haven’t been able to bring him to his regular vet yet. i add the benefiber around 5x per week, not sure if it’s safe to give everyday. i can give him an enema if i know what to get, but would rather not have to clean up the outcome. i’m thinking more along the lines of Mirilax. how much should i add to wetfood for a 29lb cat that’s full of S*#% ??!!……….V.

  90. jhofve77
    November 2, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Every CRF cat is different and, every cat needs individualized “custom” treatment; you’ll need to discuss the use of any supplements with your veterinarian.

  91. Nick
    November 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm


    Thanks for the reply, I know you can’t give advice on individual cats. Perhaps I should have phrased my question differently….

    Are any of the suggestions listed in the article contraindicated for cats with CRF?

    Does that help matters any?


  92. jhofve77
    October 31, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Sorry, I cannot give veterinary advice for any individual case; please work with your veterinarian to find a program that works for your kitty

  93. Nick
    October 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for the great article!

    My 18 1/2 year old male cat has had CRF for the past 18 months or so. He eats wet and dry K/D food, and gets subQ fluids every week or so. He suffers dehydration and chronic constipation because of the CRF.

    Would any of the remedies listed above be contraindicated for a cat with CRF?

    Thank you!

  94. Olena
    October 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I had a cat for 9 years. Feed him with dry food only. All time we had no problem with it. Never went to the vet he was absolutely healthy. But suddenly he got constipated. Vet told us its from dry food we have been given him all those years. Enema and other treatments didnt help. We had to put him to sleep after all.

  95. jhofve77
    October 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Hemp seed is primarily a source of fiber, which explains its action in both directions! ;-)

  96. me
    October 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I have hemp seed on a regular basis… but when my cat got into it, it gave her the squirts… so I on occasion sprinkle a tiny amount on her wet food… she loves hemp seed mixed in her food but only a tiny amount and she is fine… just don’t let them eat a lot or they will be leaving brown squirt trails around the house… dogs also benefit from hemp.. but keep it sparingly applied to cat food or you will need to hire a carpet cleaner

  97. jhofve77
    October 11, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Cats who tend toward constipation should not get any dry food, which is often the root of the problem because it causes dehydration. While foods like w/d seem to work very well in the beginning, in the long run, many cats do not do well on it. If you read the ingredients on w/d (dry and canned), you’ll see why I don’t recommend it. Pumpkin masks the problem, and adds even more carbohydrates to an already-carb-overloaded food…this combo can cause weight gain, diabetes, yada yada! When you start letting the cat dictate what food he likes, rather than what you know is good for him, you’re starting down a very slippery slope! ;-)

  98. Jonas
    October 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for the additional information.

  99. Sue
    October 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    try hills percription diet wd (wet) with 2 tablespoons warm pumpkin puree….he’ll love it! and hopefully, he’ll start going every day like my cat did. No more constipation! good luck

  100. Sue
    October 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    hope this is not too late! I adopted an 11 year old cat and had him for only 3 months – already spent $1500.00! Extractions, enemas, emergency rooms, etc. He was finally put on wet and dry wd (he prefers the dry) 5 days ago and he is a completely different cat! Mineral oil, lactulose and vaseline did not help. I do add pumpkin puree to the wet/dry wd food – but even when he doesn’t get the puree, he’s still pooping…yah! good luck!

  101. jhofve77
    October 8, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for reminding me…I’ve added the Bristol Stool Chart to the constipation article to provide a visual reference. I’d start getting worried at a score of 2 or less.

    Psyllium is non-toxic, but too much of it can irritate the bowel. How much a cat can tolerate is a very individual thing; you’ll just have to experiment.

    I’d be cautious with supplements, especially since calcium can cause constipation.

    Older kitties often do very well with periodic subcutaneous fluids; your vet can show you how to do this at home.

  102. Jonas
    October 8, 2011 at 12:22 am

    I’ve just come across your website and it is full of great advice, so thanks for that.

    Couple of quick questions if I may. I only feed my older (18 year old) female cat on wet food, as I discovered the ills of dry food feeding a few years back (before then I fed her on mostly wet, with a little dry occasionally for variety), but last few months she has had some toiletry issues. The vet has tested for megacolon, as well as other major issues, but thankfully none were present. But she still struggles a bit to defecate, and suffers a bit of discomfort in this area, even though she does seem to defecate once every day or day and a bit. She is also on a joint formula (Osteosupport), but largely as a preventative given her age, as she still seems to get around and jump well enough.

    Anyway I know you can’t give specific advice, but I do have a couple of general questions in regard to this area:

    How dry is ‘too dry’ when it comes to a cats defecation? Is a regular sized piece of feces that is dry on the outside and even partway through cause for concern, or is it more when a cat is ‘spitting pebbles’ (small, hard balls of feces) as my vet calls it, that is the primary indicator that something is wrong?

    Also, I have been giving my cat a pinch (maybe an eighth of a teaspoon or so) of psyllium husk powder mixed in with wet food (with a couple of teaspoons of added water as well mixed in) every one to two days (daily if she is clearly having issues), and that does seem to help her a bit, but I was wondering if there are any known long term dangers or negative health consequences from the use of psyllium husk powder with cats, or using it that often?

  103. jhofve77
    October 2, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I don’t recommend ANY dry food for ANY cat. What you see as “health” on the outside of your other cat is, guaranteed, a growing disaster on the inside. Dr. Deb Greco calls dry food “diabetes in a bag.” I think of it as an “income generator” for veterinarians. Cats eating dry food will pay for it with their health, and so will you–in huge vet bills from completely preventable, nutrition-related problems.

  104. Angela
    October 2, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I have a 5 year old male cat and a 4 year old male that are both neutered. The 5 year old has been having problems with constipation for the past year off and on. (when he is constipated, he will never go in the liter box…it’s always through out the house) He is very active and otherwise a healthy cat. They both get annual check-ups by our local vet. I’ve mentioned the constipation to the vet and she suggested switching food. I would like to try a few of the suggestions on this website.My other male cat is perfectly fine and has no issues with our dry food/canned food diet. How do I give the other male cat this stuff without the other cat eating it as well??? And it’s so hard to tell what cat is defecating. I really would hate to seperate them…this may stress him out and make problem worse. Any ideas?

  105. jhofve77
    September 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Sorry but I cannot legally give veterinary advice on an individual case. As you see from the article, however, there are many options besides the ones that have been tried. If you are not satisfied with the treatment she is receiving, then definitely a second opinion would be in order.

  106. Joan
    September 21, 2011 at 5:49 am

    I have a 9 year old indoor cat that has been on dry food her whole life until about 4 months ago. Our other cat had teeth removed and we have switched them to canned food, which they both love. About 6 weeks ago, I noticed Lucy was not herself, not eating and struggling in the litter box. Took her to the vet and her intestines were full,she was put under for an enema and spent 2 nights at the vet. She has been back 2 more times for enemas and spent the night. We went on vacation and she spent 13 days at the vet, medical boarding, and they said she appeared to be going every other day. We have been home a week and she cannot go. What to do next? She is on lactulose 2x a day. I am giving her vaseline and Slippery elm. The vet has assured me she does not have megacolon from x-rays that were taken, she thinks it is neurological. Can’t afford to keep taking her to the vet every 2 weeks….
    Any suggestions would be appreciated…new vet, maybe??

  107. Laura
    September 15, 2011 at 5:19 am

    I’ve bookmarked this website and referred to it often for great information in taking care of my “boys”. I wanted to pass on to you that using slippery elm bark powder in their food is a great help. I know you advocate it elsewhere on your site. It helped my 15 year old with irritable bowel- he was able to go off his meds thanks to slippery elm. Also, my then 18 year old Scottish Fold had failing kidneys. He became constipated and would vomit from trying to force his stool. I started adding the slippery elm to his food and it fixed the problem. He had no more poo problems and I feel the slippery elm also helped the stomach conditions that accompany kidney failure. He passed away at the ripe old age of 21.
    I sprinkled the powder on dry food for the IB kitty since at that time it was all I fed. My Fold was on Wellness canned chicken and I added 1/8 to 1/4 tsp to half a can every day. It got to where he would not eat the food unless it had the slippery elm mixed in it!
    It’s safe and it worked for my boys!

  108. Josephine
    September 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Dr. Hofve,

    Can we give oats to constipated cats? Oats works well on constipated human. Thanks.

  109. maggie
    August 21, 2011 at 7:22 am

    First, if my vet so easily recommended euthanasia I would immediately change doctors.
    Anyway, I have a cat the same age and have been dealing with the same problem. I did a lot of research which led me to changing his diet. He is now on “wellness” grain free and then I add water to the food to make a thick gravy. I also have been giving him petroleum jelly. Since these changes he has not had ANY problems at all.
    Also, prior to these changes I discovered that I could give him enemas myself. I used the pediatric enemas and they worked just fine.
    Here is a link that really helped me: this is written by a DVM and is very straight forward.
    Good Luck

  110. jhofve77
    August 19, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Glad you asked! Since canned food is so much more digestible, and contains much less fiber and wasted carbs than dry food, there will naturally be a significant decrease in stool quantity. As long as she is not straining or looking uncomfortable, and when she does have a stool it isn’t too dry, this is a normal change. It’s a big switch and may take her a little time to re-regulate her bowels to the new regimen.

  111. Liz
    August 19, 2011 at 5:17 am

    I just switched my 8 year old cat from dry to wet canned food. The transition was relatively easy and a week later she is excited about her feeding times. The main reason for the switch is her weight (12.5 lbs) and the more I researched how to safely help her reduce, the more I realized the mistake to feed her dry food all these years. She is healthy however I have noticed a decrease in her bowel movements since the switch. This is the second day that she has not had a bowel movement. Should I be concerned and intervene or should I wait and see. I would have expected that a change from dry food to wet would help her bowels not reduce them.

  112. jhofve77
    August 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Gosh, haven’t heard that one before! I can’t give veterinary advice on individual cases, so maybe give your vet a call and discuss if there might be an issue between timing of meals vs. timing of enema, or whether there is a different type of enema solution you could use. Slippery elm might be helpful.

  113. Josephine
    August 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Hi Dr Hofve,

    Thank you for all your good advice. It really helped our cat a lot!

    I have a question regrading constipated cat: Is there any way we can prevent my cat from vomiting after we give him enema? Thanks.

  114. jhofve77
    August 3, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Vaseline is a safe alternative to mineral oil; it’s basically made of the same stuff. Mineral oil is a good laxative but as you say, a little risky to administer.

  115. Tanya St John
    August 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    My cat baby had the same problem, due to a pelvic fracture that I didn’t know about when I took her in. She was a stray. I had her for years and noticed one day, she wasn’t passing stool as normal and I took her in and they took x rays and was surprised at what’ they found, a bullet a few inches from her spine and a bad pelvis fracture. They said, they were old injuries and her constipation was a result of the fracture. She’s had like 3-4 surgeries so far and it go to the point where, her medicine her doctor gave her was not working, the Lactulose!!! She still was getting constipated. I finally started thinking it was time to let her go, because I felt bad that’s she’s suffered this long and didn’t want her going through it anymore. I did one last thing out of desperation.. Went to the store and bought some Mineral Oil – I gave her three syringe full of 3ml as you’d do like an enema. And the next morning checked her rear and Oh my!! IT WAS GONE!!! Looked in the litter box and there it was! She had finally passed it, and normally the first sign I saw when my cat was constipated, she stopped eating. How I always knew she was constipated. Mineral Oil does work. It lubricates their rectum so it’s easier to pass.


  116. lorileisiren
    July 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    If a vet suggest euthanesia simply because they are out of ideas or uncomfortable, not due to a gross amount of pain to the animal, simply assume they are lazy and/or incompetent. Most vets are great, but a handful give the profession a bad name… A human doctor is not allowed to make assumptions to a patients life, neither should a vet be able….. some are simply jaded. Unfortunately, others are heartless, money-grubbing fools. A good vet will never suggest euthanesia to a pet owner for a problem that is treatable, curable or not chronically painful. /for instance, i have had a vet tell me to “put down” an indoor only cat simply because an eye infection had left her blind! no pain, she was fully treated for the infection, and she was happy! does a blind person get a death sentance for being a pain to care for? NO! (and i literally socked him in the jaw after i declined and he insisted i kill her)Also, My good friend had a little corgi dog develop a twitch, turned out he had had a stroke (old, like 14). A 24 hr emergency vet told him to euthanize.the dog was fine other than his left leg was paralyzed, (he was and still is a happy dog) he gets around fine. a competent vet he saw as a second opinion opted to amputated his leg. He gets called “tripod mutt” but is healthy, pain-free and nearing 20 years old! Most vets are great and pet lovers themselves but be wary and always get a second opinion!!!! It could save your friend!

  117. jhofve77
    July 15, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Sorry, I can’t give specific veterinary advice to individuals. I would recommend a second opinion from another vet.

  118. Hsulin
    July 15, 2011 at 1:50 am

    My 4 yr old female cat had a traffic accident 2 yrs ago, which left her pelvis broken on either side. She has miraculously recovered 99% after surgery. About a year ago, she had really bad constipation and had to be sedated twice to have her poop manually evacuated. I was spooked by that incident and kept her regular by feeding her Cat Lover’s laxative and hairball remover, which seem to make her go like clock work every morning. But 2 weeks ago, he’ll came back and she was constipated again. For some reason, the laxative has stopped working its magic…has she grown immune to it? So I got some lactulose from the vet and manage to clear her out. I took her off her dry nibbles but found that leaving her on a wet canned food only diet doesn’t have enough bulk to make her poop daily….the result was a half yard of black sticky snake. I have switched her to a higher fibre Meowmix hairball control kibble, but that seems to bung her up. I have been giving her lactulose again for the past 4 days, 2 ml 3 times a day, and lots of water. But that doesn’t seem to help. She pooped out this hard date 3 days ago, and then a marble the next day. Yesterday, I got tired of waiting and praying, I gave her a warm water enema, 3 ml , and she pooped out this date again. Weird , flat, big and hard. I thought her troubles are over…. And this morning I got nothing. So I administered another warm water enema, as recommended by my vet, 5 ml this time…..and got nothing. She is not straining or scratching desperately in her commode like before when she was really bunged up…..could it be that there is no poop to eject? Or could it be that whatever is in there is so big and hard, even the enema has no effect on it? If she isnt constipated, why are her turds like hard dates and marbles? All this guessing is driving me crazy! To make matters worse, my vet has confirmed that she has a bladder infection and she is now on 10 days of clavamox. Other than that, she seems normal, eating, sometimes playing with the other cat. If she doesn’t poop by tomorrow, I am seriously contemplating administering the microlax given to me by my vet.

  119. jhofve77
    July 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Most of the cats needing the surgery *are* older. As they said in vet school, “Age is not a disease.” :) You might want to have a heart-to-heart with your vet, or with the surgeon they refer to, about risks vs. benefits. You want a surgeon with a lot of experience with this particular procedure, as well as excellent surgical monitoring and pain management protocols. Remember that by the time the need for surgery is urgent, he will be even older, and maybe too frail at that point to handle an emergency. Then the choice is between a riskier surgery and euthanasia. Lots of things to consider, I don’t envy you the decision! Good luck!

  120. Josephine
    July 13, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Hi Dr. Hofve,

    Regarding the sub-total colectomy surgery, is it something safe to do to a 17-year-old cat? My cat has got the problem of constipation for years and some of the methods we used are no longer effective. We keep using new methods on him. The situation is still under control but we are afraid eventually everything will become not effective. Our belief is that a surgery may be too harsh for a 17-year-old cat. Please tell us how you think. Thanks.

  121. jhofve77
    July 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Sorry, the law prohibits giving specific veterinary advice to individuals. However, I would say that sudden blindness can be a sign of life-threatening hypertension (high blood pressure). Additionally, cats are masters at hiding pain until it becomes unbearable, and may purr to themselves for comfort, not because they are happy. If you haven’t taken her to your vet, please do so immediately!

  122. melissa
    July 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    My 21 yr. old cat is constipated for the first time in her life. She lost her sight 3 days ago, but still wants to drink out of the faucets-likes to play w/ the water, drinks alot of water–alot! I’ve mixed 1 tsp. mineral oil and physillium into her food, she pooped @ an inch. B/c she’s stilling purring, not acting as if she’s in pain, I want to try evrthing b/f the misery of the box, vet and final goodbye. Any suggestions? I’ve given her all her favorites-blueberry yogurt, laughing cow cheese, tuna juice, her wet food & chickn broth.

  123. jhofve77
    July 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    For cats who have been having problems for a long time, this is unfortunately a common recommendation. Surgery is a viable alternative, and has a very high success rate. However, many vets don’t feel comfortable doing that particular surgery, and may suggest euthanasia at the point where major action is required. As always, if you are not satisfied with your vet’s opinions or the options you’re being given, it is wise to get a second (or indeed, a third!) opinion!

  124. chris
    July 9, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I cannot believe all of the posts where the vet says to euthanize the cat. I would get second opions or even thrid if my vet told me that.

  125. conniefk
    July 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I pay extra for the lactulose and cisapride to be flavored. It goes down much better. One is flavored fish and the other chicken. Try that.

  126. conniefk
    July 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    My cat Howie is also on cisapride an laxtalose and he was going in constantly to the vet also for an enema. The vet said he would not be able to take many more enemas so maybe we should think about putting him to sleep. I could never get him to eat pumpkin so I decided to give it to him the same way I give him his medicine (orally) and I put fibe in his wet food. He has been doing fine and only had to go to the vet maybe once a year for an enema. Try the pumpkin orally.

  127. jhofve77
    June 16, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Sorry, we cannot give individual veterinary advice. However please recognize, as the article states, that high fiber foods and dry foods such as w/d can be counter-productive. Since your veterinarian appears to be out of ideas, I’d strongly recommend getting a second opinion.

  128. Antoinette
    June 15, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Hello: My 6 year old Male cat had his first episode of constipation in Dec 2010. The vet gave him laclotose and an enema. Just within the last 2 months he has been constipated and back to the vets for enemas each time. He is currently at the vets receiving enemas for another occurence. He is on Cisapride, Laclotose, canned food and hard food. I have tried olive oil, wet food, laxatone, vaseline, w/d from Hills. I read that hairballs can also cause the constipation. He cleans our other 4 cats constantly. He has never produced a furball. Could this be the problem and needs hairball formula food? The doctor told me to euthanize him or see a specialist for surgery. I’m not sure where to go at this point. Thank you.

  129. jhofve77
    June 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Meat baby foods are handy when a cat isn’t eating well. However, they are not balanced, and not suitable for long-term use without supplementing with vitamins and minerals, just like you’d do with any plain meat. See: for more information.

  130. Julie Meece
    June 14, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Should I give my cat baby food? Turkey, Chicken, etc? When she won’t eat most everything else? She has bouts of constipation and “kling-on’s” sometimes.

  131. jhofve77
    May 24, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Another reason I recommend not letting cats run loose outdoors–if they have a problem, you may not know until it’s too late. I have known people to find their outdoor cat dead of a urinary blockage (a lingering and excruciatingly painful way to die!), but they never saw the signs. If you have any doubts, please take him to the vet for a checkup.

  132. Zainab
    May 24, 2011 at 2:24 am

    He is not acting sick and his apetite is good. But since he does not use a litter box I have no way to tell if he is actually pooping and peeing normally. Come to think of it, I haven’t even seen him coughing a hairball yet….

  133. jhofve77
    May 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Is he acting sick? Constipated cats feel sick, and usually won’t eat. If you are concerned, your veterinarian can palpate his abdomen to make sure. I’d definitely recommend getting him off the dry food, which is the main cause of constipation in cats.

  134. Zainab
    May 23, 2011 at 12:12 am

    I have a three year old male domestic short hair who is an indoor/outdoor cat. I’ve had him for only a few months (and he is my first experience with a cat) as he was abandoned on my doorstep by someone. He is neutered and very friendly. My problem is that he does not use a litter box for urinating or defecating and prefers to do it outdoors (usually in a neighbors yard!). I’ve tried to get him to go in the box. Even put a sand box in my own yard, but he still manages to get out of the garden. How do I tell that he is constipated. I have gotten a little scared reading all these posts here. He eats a combination of wet and dry food.

  135. jhofve77
    May 22, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Here is an extensive article about how to get her to eat a better diet. There are also more than a dozen other suggestions in the constipation article beyond what you’ve tried. Please work with your vet to find the combination that works for your cat!

  136. Sheryl
    May 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I have 2 cats 13 years old/female (sisters). I have always fed them just dry food. About 6 months ago, Ruby started having constipation problems – vet prescribed Lactulose and suggested putting her on wet food. She seemed to be better for awhile, however the problem is getting her to eat wet food. She was eating a small amount 2-3 times a week until recently. Went on Lactulose again, but can’t get her to eat the wet food. Any suggestions? I’ve tried all the wet food brands.

  137. Carol
    May 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Connie, just do it. I have given my cat miralax for several years now. I did gradually introduce it although I do not feel it was necessary to do so. On rare occasion she also has raced out of the litter box with a “Kling-on” attached, but I have felt that this was most likley due to her being unable to “pinch it off” rather than pain.
    My 5.5 lb cat uses 1/8 teaspoon miralax in about 2 Tablespoons of wet food which has been blended (with a stick blender) with some water. I add some olive oil because she likes it.

  138. Carol
    May 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Elizabeth – Discontinue adding lactulose to his food and increase the amount of miralax. My 5.5 lb (previously) super-chronically constipated cat responds well to 1/8 teaspoon miralax mixed with about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil mixed into her wet food twice a day. She refused the lactulose, and after tasting it myself, I understood why. Your guy is taking all day to eat his food because he doesn’t like it either.
    Sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom.

  139. jhofve77
    April 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Come to think of it, I have never seen constipation caused by a hairball (that anyone could tell). Vomiting, yes, poop problems, not so much! In my experience, it is much more a dietary issue, and of course, dry food of any kind is the usual suspect. My cats do love their Furminator, though!

  140. Connie
    April 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you very much. I checked the list, and found some vets in my area that might be able to give me some advice.

  141. Debi
    April 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    My 4 year old female Siberian cat just suffered her first weekend of constipation and yesterday she had an enema at her vet. In her case I think the problem was blockage by hair balls. I just purchased the best brush I have ever seen, called the Furminator, and it is quite exceptional at removing unnecessary cat fur. Siberians are long haired with a thick undercoat to keep them warm in Siberia. The amount of excess fur that I have removed since last night is unbelievable and I will brush her some more tonight. She eats only the best foods from our local holistic pet shop so that’s how I came to the conclusion that she was blocked by fur, which she cleans all the time. I hope this helps you if this might be an issue with your cat. Even short haired cats need to be brushed.

  142. jhofve77
    April 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Sorry, I can’t give individual veterinary advice. If you are not satisfied with your current vet’s recommendations, then get a second opinion. If you are interested in holistic healing, you can find a local vet at Acupuncture, homeopathy, homotoxicology, herbs, and other modalities can be very helpful..

  143. Elizabeth
    April 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    My male cat had his first bout with obstipation 16 months ago. There were 11 months between that and his second episode, then the 3rd came 4 months later. Since the 1st bout, he has been on Miralax daily. Here is my concern….the 4th episode came only 2 week later from the last. By the way, with all 4 bouts, he has gone to the vet for an enema. The vet told me this last time that if the bouts continue and close together they typically euthanize. He is now on miralax, lactulose and zantac…all put in wet food which sometimes takes him all day to eat. Well, just a week later after his last enema, and with all these meds, I came home to find tell-tale poop puddles and vomit. Very little stool in the litter box which most likely is from my other cat. I don’t want to give up this soon. I am on pins and needles with fear of how it will play out. I am a Christian but am having trouble letting this go….God brought me through an awful experience losing my Mother…and I partly feel like I’m reliving that…the unknown and all. Thanks for listening. Elizabeth

  144. Connie
    April 23, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I also have two male cats, brothers, and both suffer from constipation that started as occasional, but has become more frequent as they’ve aged (now 11). Barney’s constipation is occasional, Fred suffers frequently. They are on wet food and take 2.5 ccs of Enulose with every meal, every day. Barney does great on this regimen; Fred will do great for several days and then have problems. He tries the litter box, gets scared when he can’t go, or if it hurts, and races all over the house, dropping feces everywhere. The vet mentioned at last checkup that Miralax might help, but I am afraid to switch over in case it doesn’t, and we wind up back at the emergency clinic for an enema. Any suggestions for starting with Miralax? SHould I switch over completely, or gradually introduce it. I really am at a loss and feeling like I’m not doing a very good job of managing what has become a chronic condition. Thanks very much.

  145. jhofve77
    March 18, 2011 at 3:49 am

    There are hundreds of possible causes, many of them serious, especially in a cat this age. Please take her to the vet as soon as possible.

  146. jm
    March 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    My 18yr old CRF friend often (every other day) vomits right after bowel movement. She normally has bm once or twice daily & the feces aren’t really hard. Any clues for the vomiting?

  147. jhofve77
    January 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Aloe contains latex, which can be irritating to the mouth and tummy. It’s not a serious toxicity problem, but if it makes the cat uncomfortable in any way, it’s best avoided.

  148. simbasmom
    January 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    ask your vet about something for nausea, I think they can compound gel to rub in the ear.

    hugs and prayers, be careful with the aloe, I read the gel is safe but the outer leaf very toxic to cats, and not to give cats cos how can you be sure that some leaf didn’t get in?

  149. simbasmom
    January 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm


    Please tell me more about the acupunture!! My 17 yr old siamese baby has mega colon since 07 and nothing works forever, ,

    thank you !!

  150. simbasmom
    January 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Did you put filtered water in the fountain? my cats love it, I have a filer on my faucet and then pour through the brita as well,

    that being said, I have been dealing with my baby 17yrs old siamese with megacolon since 07, things work then they don’t,

    I am going to try slippery elm again, didn’t give it a fair chance before I think, and make homemade food.
    and put a little plain gelatin in it.

    Lactulose works really well if you can give the dose about 1/2 hr after every time he eats, that way he gets the nutrition from his food and every meal gets lactulose.
    this worked for a Long time with my cat, sometimes when things stop, you can go back and they will work again, sour cream is good, and you might ask your vet if you can give a little oil and water rectally every once in a while. NO MINERAL oil.

    hugs and prayers, keep us too! I have circumvented surgery about as long as I think , unless we get a good turn around.

  151. Shirley
    December 13, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Just a quick comment re my 13 y/o kitty who has had a dx of megacolon for quite a few years now. We tried a number of alternative approaches, all with marginal success, and have been doing the cisapride/lactulose regimen for the past couple of years, with occasional enemas as warranted. However, while individual responses may vary, it is worth noting that acupuncture has been an extremely helpful adjunct therapy for us; makes him very comfortable and relaxed.

  152. jhofve77
    December 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I’d recommend learning to give fluids at home, to reduce the stress of going to the vet; and so you can give it more often (up to twice a day), which will help.

    Aloe contains latex, and some cats react badly to it; it may be worth a try, but make sure your brand does not contain sodium benzoate (a common preservative but toxic to cats), and watch carefully for signs of reaction.

  153. Marty
    November 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    20yr old cat with meningioma (?sp)on phenobarb and pred(2 years), also hyperthyroid. Eating Wellness and Instinct. Butter in food, with psyllym and slippery elm. Would like to try Aloe (George’s). He has a bowel movement, then vomits, then has another BM,vomits, then softer BM. Hydrated at vets.Drinks a lot of water and chicken broth. Any suggestions.

  154. Darlene
    November 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Hello: I have two cats, natural brothers, both just under 6 years old. One (the heavier one) has not had any health problems. The other, Mac, has FLUTD and suffers from constipatio as you’ve described above. Since Mac was diagnosed with FLUTD about 3-4 years ago, they have been on a purely wet diet. They eat Wellness canned food. Thankfully Mac has not suffered another flare-up of the FLUTD but he suffers from constipation often. He is now on Cisapride and Lactulose. We were giving him pure pumpkin in his food but we when the problem did not go away, we thought that too much fibre could be adding to the problem. Anyway, just wanted you to know that another cat, on a wet only diet suffers from this. On another note, since they went on wet food, they drink very little, if at all. I mix water into their food sometime just to get more liquid into them. I tried the fountain and that didn’t work either.

    Thanks for the info. He’s now on lactulose daily and we’re hoping that will make a difference.

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