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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
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Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Hello, we live in London (United Kingdom) have a 8 yrs old

Resolved Question:

Hello, we live in London (United Kingdom) have a 8 yrs old tortoiseshell cat (Clemmie). We left her with our lovely, cat-knowledgeable upstairs neighbours while holidaying abroad for 3 weeks. In their recollection Clemmie was very active for the first couple of nights, then settled into a quiet, most sleepy feline for the rest of her stay - eating moderately (she is on a light dry food regime). We have been back for 5 days now and have observed that she has lost a bit of weight (she was slightly overweight before - we reckon she must have lost a couple of pounds at the most) and is mildly lethargic, sleeps most of the day and although she drinks moderately she is eating far less than before. She is increasingly alert (jumps on our bed, recognises us and our voices, asks to go outside - we live in a ground floor flat with access to neighbours' gardens) but is eating very little and especially she is not using the litter tray for poop - it looks like she has not pooped in 6 days at least. She doesn't seem in pain. At the mo it is quite warm in London, but our flat is rather cool and this weather is not something that she hasn't experienced before. Are you able to give us an idea of what is going on? We are worried especially about her lack of use of the litter tray beyond peeing. Thanks in advance for your reply. Julia
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Now as I am sure you can appreciate, we can see reduced activty, appetite decline and weight loss for a range of reasons, even secondarily due to the stress of owners being away. That said, a lack of feces for 6 days is our major worry here. Cats should naturally pass feces ever 24-48 hours. It is quite possible that if Clemmie has a primary constipation, that this would make her uncomfortable enough to be lethargic and less then keen to put food into her already full GI. As well, we can also see cats that feel poorly develop constipation as a secondary issue.

If she is truly not passing feces (and not likely to have been going in the yard on the sly), then we would want to be pro-active here. There are a number of tricks you try at home to try to get things moving. First, you can offer some cow milk. Kitties are like little lactose intolerant people, and while the love milk it can move things down the gut a bit quicker (ie. Cause mild diarrhea in an unconstipated cat). If she is mildly constipated, this might just get things moving in the right direction.

You can also treat them with hairball medication (ie. Catalax). This is available from the vet or the pet shop. It works to lubricate the gut and can facilitate the movement of hard feces out of the rectum. . Alternatively, you can administer a small volume of Miralax (1 tsp per 24 hours), lactulose (LINK) or mineral oil orally (ideally offer in food or if given via oral syringe then take care to avoid aspiration, since that would cause problems we'd best avoid) as a GI lubricant.

Furthermore, if she is eating you can mix in some canned pumpkin or a ¼ teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil/Benefiber. Just like people, these can restore fecal output regularity. I would offer these with wet food to ease her eating of it, while making sure we are getting water into her (as canned food is 35% water). At the same time, you of course want to make sure is getting in enough fluids since constipation can be precipitated and worsened by dehydration.

Overall, her signs are quite vague but a lack of feces for 6 days is a real worry. Therefore, I would advise that you can try the above this morning but if we don't have feces by the afternoon, then it'd be ideal to have a check up with her vet. They will be able to tell you if she is fecally impacted (and if she is and didn't respond to the above, then an enema may be indicated for Clemmie) and just make sure there is nothing else amiss for her. Depending on their findings, it may just be a case of continuing the above treatment but if she is severely obstructed with feces then they can remove this to help her get back to feeling like herself.


I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Experience: I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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