Constipation is the inability to pass faeces. This can be partial, causing a difficulty in completely emptying the bowel, or may be complete. A badly constipated cat will become depressed, of their food and may vomit. Your vet will be able to determine if your cat is constipated - it is easy to feel through the body wall.
As with humans, a lack of dietary fibre may predispose to constipation. Many cat foods are low in fibre. In the wild feather, hair, skin and bone of their prey fulfils this role.
Some cats have a particular problem with constipation. When faeces are normally passed, muscle in the wall of the colon and rectum contract to force it down. In some cats these muscles weaken with time and the colon can become quite distended with faeces. It is uncertain whether the weakness comes first, or it is caused by the colon being over-stretched by faeces.
Constipation can be a problem following fractures of the pelvis - usually after being hit by a car. If the size of the pelvic canal is reduced it may interfere with the normal passage of faeces.
Treatment of constipation in cats usually requires an enema. A minor enema can be given by your vet with the cat conscious, but any severe blockage will require an anaesthetic to clear. Once the blockage is clear some change will be requires to keep them passing faeces. A high fibre diet may help. Other medications may include liquid paraffin, lactulose and/or a dietary fibre supplement.
In some cases, no medication will help, or over time the problem may deteriorate. In these cats it is possible to remove the colon to correct the problem, but this procedure is not without risks or side effects.
This pet health article is for reference only.
If your pet is showing any symptoms or distress, and you suspect your pet is ill CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.