Cats are very private animals, especially when it comes time to use their litter box. But as a cat person, you’re probably keen on how often your feline poops, so when you go to clean the litter box and notice they haven’t defecated in a day or two, then you may be online searching how to help your cat poop when it’s constipated. If you’re worried about your feline and searching for the root cause of their constipation, or how to treat it, then this article will be invaluable.

Before you decide to treat your feline for constipation, it’s important to learn about what causes it, how long a cat can go without bowel movements before you should start to worry, proper care and treatment for stasis, and what you can do to prevent constipation in the future.

Common Cat Constipation Symptoms

Feline constipation is a common problem a cat will have as they grow older. On average, a kitty will have a BM once daily, although some may go once every two days. When you’re cleaning out their litter boxes, if you notice bowel movements that are pebble-like and dry, this can be a major indicator that your feline is dealing with constipation.

Below, I’ve compiled some of the most common symptoms. However, some of these symptoms can also be indicative of urinary disorders, so it’s important to contact your veterinarian if this is an ongoing problem.

  • Pain when trying to defecate
  • Straining when using the litter box
  • Cries of pain when using the litter box
  • Straining with no defecation
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Change in behavior
  • Stops grooming

For many owners, a change in their cat’s behavior is the biggest sign that their cat is constipated. This is especially true for younger cats who normally love to play and race around the house at all hours, but suddenly no longer care about playtime or their toys. Both old and younger cats may wander around the home at night crying or digging around in their litter box for a long time, throwing litter all over the floor. They may be lethargic and refuse to play or even move. This can be very alarming for many cat parents. If your feline is showing any of these signs, then speak with your vet for advice.

Cat Constipation Causes

constipated cat

There are several causes of stasis in cats, including the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Obesity
  • Low fiber diet
  • Hairballs
  • UTI
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Tangled or matted fur
  • A diet that’s too low in fiber
  • Tumor
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Neurological disorder
  • Anal sac abscess or blockage

Out of this list, dehydration is the most common cause of constipation. Most owners notice that their felines don’t drink aas dogs or other animals. This is because cats tend to get most of their water from their food. But if you’re not feeding your cat wet food, then they can easily become dehydrated. This is especially true if you have a senior. Part of proper pet care and nutrition is ensuring that your animal has regular bowel movements.

How to Help Your Cat Poop When its Constipated

It’s important to determine the cause of constipation, so you can treat it correctly. If it’s a matter of what they’re currently eating, then switching to the best cat food for sensitive stomachs can easily remedy this issue. Finding the proper nutrition for your cat is an important part of pet care. Making the switch to a product that’s higher in fiber, or wet food, can prevent issues  in the future. If you’ve tried making these important dietary changes with no success, then it’s important that you contact your veterinarian for further advice, since chronic constipation can indicate a more serious underlying health condition.

If you’ve figured out what’s causing your pet’s constipation, or if this is the first time your cat has dealt with this issue, then you can try treating the issue yourself, using the following treatment options:

  • Adding one teaspoon of raw pumpkin to their diet
  • Laxatives
  • Adding a teaspoon of mineral oil to their diet
  • Stool softener
  • Probiotics
  • Switching to a high fiber formula
  • Switching to wet pet food
  • Increase water intake
  • Encourage exercise
  • Add a teaspoon of bran cereal to their wet or dry formula

Increase Water Consumption

cat drinking in a bowl

Getting a feline to drink more water is easier than it sounds. Your cat may not care for water if it’s water and stale. Place more bowls of  fresh water out for your pet and be sure to change out their water one to two times daily. Felines also tend to be enticed by moving water, so try out a cat water fountain. Avoid forcing your pet to drink water, since this can make matters worse. If your feline is severely dehydrated, seek medical attention right away. A vet can create a rehydration plan. If your feline is a senior, they may need to be hooked up to an IV to quickly rehydrate them.

If your feline is not seriously dehydrated, your vet may recommend making the switch from dry kibble to wet, since it has a high moisture content and give you advice regarding which wet formula is best. This can make a major difference in terms of softer stools and upset stomach relief. It can also help to reduce inflammation in the intestines, if your feline is having trouble digesting kibble.

Stool Softener

Speak with your veterinarian regarding a safe and effective stool softener to use that will help to get your cats bowels moving again. These products can take effect in a matter of an hour or two and can help to soften stools and reduce symptoms associated with stasis, such bloating, abdominal discomfort, hard stools, and straining during defecation.


Sometimes, cats need a little extra help and care and when it comes to BMs. This is especially true if you have an older or long-haired feline. Speak with your vet about approved laxatives. Many veterinarians recommend adding ¼ teaspoon of Miralax to a pet’s kibble  to treat constipation.


One teaspoon of raw canned pumpkin is a safe and gentle way to encourage a BM and reduce symptoms linked to stasis. It can also help fight obesity, since pumpkin can bulk up your pet’s food, leaving them feeling full longer.


Fiber can also be an effective solution and a great choice if your cat is prone to constipation. Food that’s higher in fiber will allow food to easily move through the digestive tract. Meet with your vet to discuss switching to a high fiber diet.


Getting your cat more active can also get things moving again and is a major part of proper care for aging felines. Make sure you purchase some cat toys you know they’ll love, such as cat fishing poles, cat trees, a cat wheel, which is like a giant hamster wheel, or balls with bells in them.

If these home remedies have not helped to provide relief, then your veterinarian may recommend the following:

  • Enema
  • Medication that will increase the large intestine’s contractile strength
  • Manual bowel evacuation
  • Weight loss

Managing Constipation in Cats

cat in litterbox

There are many reasons why felines can have problems passing stool. Unfortunately, this can be very hard on their body and their digestive system in general. Additionally, constipation in cats is more common as they age. Older cats tend to experience difficult or infrequent BMs. However, constipation can happen at any age, especially if a feline doesn’t consume enough fiber, doesn’t exercise, or doesn’t drink enough water.

Additionally, younger, curious cats can also have issues with constipation, if they tend to get into and chew on everything.

Long-haired cats can also struggle with constipation, especially if they groom excessively. Because of this, pet owners need to make sure they brush their long-haired felines daily. This is an important part of pet care, and can help prevent other medical issues, which can occur when hair becomes stuck in the digestive tract.

Serious Consequences of Chronic Constipation

If you were unable to provide some relief for your pet, if left untreated, obstipation can occur. Obstipation is the inability to empty the colon. When a feline is unable to empty their colon of feces on their own. The colon will then become packed with feces. This can lead to vomiting, appetite loss, and lethargy. In serious cases, it can also result in the loss of the colon’s motility and swelling of the colon. Chronic constipation can also increase a pet’s risk of kidney disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

Surgery may be needed if a feline is constipated due to a blockage in the intestines.

When it’s Time to See the Vet

If you have tried adding a stool softener, laxative, pumpkin, in addition to increasing their water intake, with no success, then it may be time to make an appointment to see their vet for proper care.

Medical treatment will be necessary if you notice any of the following:

  • Lack of grooming
  • Blood in stool
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • No bowel movement in forty-eight hours
  • Your pet cries out in pain when trying to defecate
  • Abdominal swelling or other signs of abdominal discomfort

Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment based on the severity of the constipation and whether or not the constipation is caused by an underlying health condition. They will also discuss different ways you can help your cat to move their bowels.

To prevent future episodes of constipation, your veterinarian will put together a plan of care that’s designed to promote bowel regularity. This can include switching to a different pet formula, taking medication, regularly using stool softeners, and tips on how to help your cat lose weight, if the cause of constipation is due to obesity.

Final Thoughts

Prompt treatment for a constipated cat can prevent more serious health issues, such as obstipation. However, if constipation is an ongoing issue for your animal, especially if you have an older feline at home, then medical attention is strongly recommended, if these simple home remedies have not helped your animal to evacuate. As a feline grows older, they will experience more health issues, including constipation, dehydration, and general GI upset. Staying on top of your pet’s health care, making proper changes to their diet, leaving extra water bowls out, and paying attention to the feces, or lack thereof in their litter box, can ensure your pet remains happy and healthy and receives the care he or she needs.