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Holistic Help For Constipation In Cats

Constipation in cats

Potty problems

Constipation in cats is no laughing matter.  In fact, they can be signs of a greater issue.  Recently we noticed Lili struggling more when trying to poop.  She was clearly uncomfortable, making little whining sounds while in the litter box.  There were several instances where she would try to poop and nothing would come out at all, despite several trips to the litter box.  Other times the evidence she was leaving behind amounted to small, dry pieces of poop. a cat who eats at least three times a day, she should have been pooping a lot more than that! 

If you’ve ever noticed this in your cat it’s time to pay attention.  Constipation in cats can be painful and lead to other more serious health issues.  Regular bowel movements are one of the ways the body detoxifies itself.  When fecal matter remains in the GI tract too long toxins and moisture gets reabsorbed back into the body.  As a result this creates a very toxic environment that can affect your cat’s body down to the cellular level.  Thankfully, in most cases constipation in cats can be easily remedied once you determine the cause and make necessary changes.

Why do cats get constipated?

Without a doubt the most common reason cats get constipated is lack of hydration.  Cats don’t naturally tend to hang out by the water bowl and drink all day, unless they are in late stages of kidney failure or have diabetes.  In a recent survey I read it showed that 88% of cat owners still feed their cats dry food.  If a cat only eats dry food I’d say it’s highly likely he is in a constant state of constipation.  And sadly, most cat owners aren’t even aware of it.  Because cats’ bodies are around 60% water it’s vital that they consume a good amount of it every day.  

In an article by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, she states that “kitties fed exclusively dry food are getting only 10 to 12 percent of the moisture their bodies need…The lack of moisture causes the kidneys to become stressed, and stools turn dry, hard and painful to pass.”  She adds that other reasons cats get constipated can include:

  • GI motility problems
  • Painful defecation due to fracture of the pelvis or hind limb, arthritis, or impacted anal glands
  • Orthopedic or neurologic problems
  • Obstruction of the colon caused by a foreign object, tumor, or hernia
  • Megacolon–a condition where the colon loses its ability to push waste through the colon allowing the fecal material to accumulate

Other reasons cats develop pooping issues can include stress, dirty litter box, undesirable location of the litter box, inadequate fiber in the diet, ingesting too much fur, and even certain medications.

Common ways to alleviate constipation in cats

The first thing to address is the diet.  Transition your kitty off dry food on to a wet diet of raw, homemade, rehydrated freeze-dried food, or even high quality canned food.  Adding in a little extra water to the food won’t hurt either.  Some cats actually prefer water to be moving or running instead of stagnant.  Therefore, consider adding a pet fountain rather than keeping water in a bowl.  

In order to improve GI tract motility (the ability to move fecal material through the GI tract), get your kitty moving.  Regular exercise and playtime helps the digestive system and reduce stagnation.  Some cats enjoy following their owners around the house and are more active.  Others need enticed–or bribed–with treats, toys to bat around, strings to chase, etc.  

Thirdly, you may need to add some fiber to the diet.  Even cats who eat a raw diet may not be getting enough fiber. Simply adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of natural psyllium husk to your cat’s food, along with a little extra water, can be just what the body needs to push material through the bowel.  I don’t recommend using a flavored fiber product because many cats are picky when it comes to flavors and scents.  Alternatively, adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cooked pumpkin or other squash, minced dark leafy greens, inulin or acacia fiber to your cat’s food is another great way to get a little natural fiber into the GI tract.  

Other products like coconut oil, a petroleum-free hairball remedy, and even aloe vera juice can act as natural laxatives.  Try mixing in 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil or aloe vera juice into your cat’s food.  Or you can try mixing these with baby food and offering as a treat.  

Finally, making sure your kitty has stress-free access to a clean litter box can prevent her “holding it” for too long.  

A note on senior cats and constipation

Some senior cats struggle with constipation, too, and this is especially true if kidney disease is present. When the kidneys are no longer able to help the body hold on to water and maintain hydration, the large intestines will then absorb water back into the body. This results in poops that are hard and dry. Giving extra fluids may be helpful in this situation. Furthermore, try to keep your senior cats active and add a source of fiber as these help with motility.

Energy medicine can alleviate constipation in cats

Did you know that homeopathy and simple energy work can also help alleviate feline constipation?  Perhaps less widely known, there are several homeopathic remedies that are very effective in relieving constipation.  These remedies work for both people and pets, but the manner of dosing is different.  Start by matching the symptoms your cat is having with the remedy.  Next, take 3 pellets and dissolve them in 1/2 cup of purified water.  Using a syringe withdraw 1/2 ml, strike it strongly against your hand about eight times (this is called succussion), and give it orally or mixed in food.  If your cat hasn’t pooped normally within 12 hours try another dose.  

Here are some of the most common homeopathic remedies used for constipation according to Dr. Vikas Sharma, MD:

  • Nux Vomica:  for frequent passing of small stools, sedentary lifestyle
  • Bryonia Alba:  for dry, hard stools in lump form; one of the best medicines for constipation
  • Alumina:  used in cases where there is no urge to pass stools for days at a time
  • Lycopodium Clavatum:  known best for constipation accompanied with gas and bloating, cases of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Nat Mur:  for constipation where stools are passed every other day
  • Silicea:  works best in cases where the stool recedes after partially coming out (like peek-a-boo)

Offering simple energy work with your hands can also work wonders.  Start with setting your intention; then, with your hands facing or above the kitty, send healing energy  Similar to Reiki, this energy work helps open blockages and restores flowing energy through the chakras (energy centers in the body).  When there is a blockage, whether emotional or physical, in the 6th chakra, which correlates to the bowels, things get “stuck.” Once the energy is released and flowing again it can help restore GI motility and alleviate constipation.

Holistic help for Lili

In order to help Lili we needed a holistic approach that addressed her condition on emotional, spiritual and physical levels.  Even though she was eating a high quality wet diet three times a day, we began by adding extra water to her food.  She also gets several daily escorts to the litter box with the bathroom door closed so that she is not stressed out by our other cats hovering nearby while she does her business.  Instead of “holding it” all day, she is now starting to feel more confident and goes by herself!  

Lili tends to sleep most of the day away on her favorite chair under a blanket.  Knowing that regular exercise helps the Gi tract move material along, my husband started waking her up and taking her upstairs to play away from the other cats.  She loves to play with her favorite balls, batting them around and chasing them around the house.  In fact, she does this for over an hour, entertaining herself!  

She needed some fiber added to her diet, so I added 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin to her food.  She was not a fan and began to turn up her nose to it.   I discovered through muscle testing that she developed a sensitivity to it, so I switched her to psyllium husk.  After the first day with the psyllium in her food she was still straining a bit in the litter box.  Then I had an epiphany:  homeopathy!  After comparing symptoms and muscle testing for confirmation I used Bryonia 30C.  Within 6 hours of dosing my husband reported that she finally passed a normal, large amount of poop!  That evening she pooped again, the same amount, and has done so every day since.  I only had to give her one dose to help get her body on tract.  

Address the cause, effect a cure

Many vets may recommend medications or Miralax for cats with constipation issues, and there may be instances when doing so is needed.  However, when you take a holistic approach in addressing it chances are good that pharmaceutical drugs and medications won’t even be necessary. With simple things like ensuring safe privacy in the litter box, getting more exercise, avoiding dry food, adding fiber and extra water into the diet, and using homeopathy your cat’s potty problems can be a thing of the past.  

If you have experienced constipation issues with your cat what did you do?  Share in the comments below!

 Updated 9/9/23

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It appears you really DID clear the obsessiveness of Libby asking and going nutso as I get out and prep her canned food. She is giving me space (not underfoot), less verbally meowing like crazy and this morning she knew I was prepping the food and it was so quiet I turned around and she wasn't even in the kitchen anymore, even though she knew I was prepping her food. THAT's a first.

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