Pet parents may have a hard time staying on top of their cat’s bathroom habits since they use a litter box and prefer their privacy. However, if you’re cleaning out their litter pan and it looks like your cat has not had a bowel movement in several days, you need to step in and do some research on how to make a cat poop when constipated. It’s important to monitor your cat’s bowel movements, since cat constipation can indicate serious underlying health problems or the need to make changes to a cat’s environment. In this article, I’ll go over what pet parents can do to treat constipation in cats, what causes it, and when it’s time to call the vet.

constipated cat

How to Make a Cat Poop When Constipated

Just because you don’t notice your pet having a bowel movement every day doesn’t mean you’re dealing with cat constipation. It’s very common for a cat to have a bowel movement every other day, or every two days. If you’re not sure your cat is constipated, take a look at the list of signs and symptoms of cat constipation below.

Cat Constipation Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of kitty constipation can include:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Meowing and yowling
  • Fecal matter stuck to the cat’s rear end
  • Cries of pain when using the litter box
  • Lack of feces or a reduced amount in the litter box for a period of three or more days
  • Stools are very small, dry, and ball-shaped
  • Cat has frequent BM accidents outside the litter box
  • Stools are difficult to pass
  • Swelling in the abdominal region
  • Frequent trips to the litter box with no output

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Causes of Constipation in Cats

Any vet will tell you that healthy cats do not suffer from ongoing constipation. In some cases, a cat’s constipation can indicate your kitty is suffering from an underlying health problem. Common causes include:

  • Dietary issues
  • Cancer
  • Pelvis, bone, or nerve problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammation in intestines
  • Obstruction in intestines
  • Irregular colon shape
  • Metabolic disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive tract upset

Treatment for Constipated Pets

cat pooping in litter box

Now that you know what can cause constipation in cats, it’s important to make an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. A veterinarian can run some tests to rule out health conditions that could be causing your cat’s constipation and provide an accurate diagnosis.

If the veterinarian finds your cat to be perfectly healthy, then you need to rule out other things that can be causing the issue. If your cat is constipated often, you may need to look at their food or their environment to determine if changes need to be made.

Cat Food

Have you recently made changes to your pet’s diet and switched kibble brands? A change in diet is one of the most common reasons cats experience digestive tract issues and constipation.

If your cat has become constipated, you may need to switch back to their old kibble. If you stopped giving your furry friend their old kibble for a reason, such as you realized it’s overly processed, then find a pet food that’s high in fiber. Fiber can help to get the ball rolling in terms of regulating your cat’s bowel movements.

Increase Water Consumption for Fluid Therapy

If your cat isn’t drinking as much water as they should, this can also cause constipation. In fact, dehydration is a common problem in seniors. Try offering wet food, which has a moisture content of seventy to eighty percent. If your cat is refusing the wet chow, set out several water bowls around the house to encourage them to drink more.


Cats that are anxious when using their litter box will try to avoid using it at all costs. This can result in constipation and accidents. But consider why your cat may be fearful of using their litter boxes. Cats can become anxious and will avoid using their litter boxes, or they’ll hold their bowel movements, if the litter pan has been placed in a busy location in the home. Relocating the litter pan to a quiet place can significantly help to reduce future episodes of constipation. In some cases, your veterinarian may need to prescribe a medication to help your feline calm down.

Switch to the Best Dog Proof Litter Box

Pay attention to your cat’s environment and focus on their behavior, as well as the behavior of other animals in the home. Have you recently brought home a new dog, or has your old dog taken an interest in your cat, particularly their litter boxes? Many dogs are guilty of digging through litter pans in search of cat feces to eat. While this may sound disgusting to most people, dogs do this because there is still some nutritional value in the cat’s feces because cats have a very fast metabolism and don’t fully digest their food.

If you’ve caught your dog red-handed, pawing through the litter pan, or you’ve noticed litter all over the floor, then your dog invading the litter pan is probably the reason behind your cat holding their feces or pooping where they shouldn’t. Holding their feces and waiting several hours until it’s safe to use the litter pan can lead to constipation and other issues.

If this is the case, you need to buy a dog proof litter box. These boxes usually come with a hood and a small entryway, both of which will prevent your dog from entering the litter pan. You should also consider placing the litter pan in a safe, quiet spot, one that the dog doesn’t have access to.

Use Stool Softeners

cat pooping in a litter box

If you don’t want to wait for nature to take its course or for the new cat chow to help get your cat’s bowels moving, try adding an over the counter stool softener to their kibble for faster results. There are several different products available on the market that are safe and gentle for cats. Products such as Miralax can work in under an hour and can be mixed with a small serving of wet cat chow or other things your cat prefers to eat. For dosing size and frequency, contact your veterinarian.

Lactulose is another option, which is available by prescription only. Speak with your vet about ordering this medication for your cat if they have a diagnosis of chronic constipation. It can be given every six to twelve hours until a cat has successfully defecated.

On-Site Enema

Enemas should be given as a last resort, since this process can be traumatizing for some cats. These are usually administered at a vet’s office and should never be administered by the pet owner. Giving an enema to your cat by yourself can have catastrophic results. Speak with your veterinarian to learn more.


This type of drug is designed to help the gastrointestinal tract contract more. This type of medication is only available by prescription and can provide fast results. To learn more about this type of medication, contact your vet.

Other Home Remedies to Treat Constipation

If you don’t want to deal with potential harsh side effects from over the counter treatment or prescription medications, there are many things you can use to treat kitty constipation at home such as switching to a high fiber diet incorporating exercise and other effective remedies including:

  • Adding ½ a teaspoon of aloe vera juice to your pet’s kibble once daily
  • Add wheat bran cereal to their diet
  • Follow a high fiber diet
  • Add probiotics
  • Use ½ teaspoon of canned pumpkin daily. Keep in mind, too much pumpkin can cause loose stools.
  • Increase your cat’s exercise

Helpful Tips on How to Prevent Constipation

Now you know how you can help your cat poop when they’re constipated, the common causes, and the care you can provide, it’s important to learn how to prevent episodes of constipation in the future.

cat using litter box to poop

  • As I mentioned above, if the cause of constipation is due to the family dog rooting through the litter box, once you switch to a dog proof litter pan and relocate it, you shouldn’t have to worry about any future episodes.
  • If the constipation was caused by dehydration, make sure you have plenty of fresh dishes of water placed all throughout the home. Switching to canned cat food can also help.
  • Advanced age is one of the most common reasons behind trouble defecating. If your cats are older and constantly have problems, then they may need more care and assistance keeping their bowel movements regular. You may need to put them on stool softeners indefinitely, depending on your vet’s recommendation. If you don’t want to use a stool softener medication, then another good option for seniors is adding some pumpkin to their diet. Many cat owners prefer this care method since it’s natural and cats tend to love the taste.
  • Increasing exercise to twenty minutes daily is one of the best ways to combat issues with defecation, even in seniors.
  • Speak with your vet concerning fiber needs and whether it’s a good idea to include a supplement for daily use
  • Monitor water intake and change the water bowl often. Cats hate stale water
  • Keep an eye out for digestive tract upset and signs of discomfort such as frequent trips to the litter pan.
  • If your cat regularly deals with constipation, if you notice a distended abdomen, a bloated body, and general discomfort, treat for constipation immediately
  • Pay attention to stools. Hard stools can be a sign of too much fiber or too little water.

Final Thoughts

If you’re dealing with a constipated cat, you need to act fast. Not only is it uncomfortable for your cat, but failure to treat constipation promptly can end up requiring a trip to the vet. Using the tips I’ve included in this guide, you can find the best way to see results within one to twelve hours, depending on which method you use. Remember, it’s important to first rule out an underlying medical condition before you attempt to treat the constipation, since your cat may require medical treatment and medication.