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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16265
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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my14 year old cat is constipated and hasnt been for 4 days.

Customer Question

my14 year old cat is constipated and hasnt been for 4 days. she normally eats dry and wet food and catmilk. she has become quite lazy but apart from that seems ok and doesnt seem to be in pain when i press her stomach. I have just given her a teaspoon of olive oil mixed with cod liver oil..is this ok? is it likely to work?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
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.

 

I am sorry to hear Millie is having some trouble passing feces. We can see this be an issue for older cats for a range of reasons. If she is otherwise well and perhaps a bit "lazy," then it is possible that she is suffering with a bit of constipation due to underlying arthritis. We find that some cats with sore jointed will try to put off the strain of squatting in the litter box and by doing so can put them at risk of constipation (since the feces left in the GI becomes even harder).

 

In this situation, if she is only mildly affected, then your oils may be helpful. That said, both are oils that can be digested by the gut. This means they may not make it far enough down her intestinal tract to aid her passing hard feces in the lower GI and colon. Therefore, if you don't find them working, there are some other tricks you can try at home to relieve her constipation.

 

First, you can offer some cow milk (not cat milk since that will be lactose-free). 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 avoids GI digestion as opposed to the oils) 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 1/4t teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil. 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). You also want to encourage your cat to drink as constipation can be complicated by dehydration. Make sure she has fresh water and you can even offer low sodium chicken broth if she won’t drink. If she has recurring issues, these are good steps to also keep her regular.

Otherwise, since constipation can be an early indicator of arthritis starting to bother healthy kitties, I did want to suggest that you may want to try her with glucosamine/chondroitin supplementation. This is a nutrient supplement that is available at your vets, pet shops, and health food stores (as capsules, liquids, and even treats). It works by aiding joint suppleness by helping cartilage replenish itself and blocking enzyme destruction of cartilage in the joint. Often we can find this helpful in animals with arthritis and can sometimes settle arthritis induced constipation. Normally we give kitties 50mg glucosamine + 15mg chondroitin a day per 10 pounds of body weight. So, this would be something to consider for Millie.

Overall, olive oil and fish oils can help lubricate the GI but can only get so far down the intestinal tract before they too are digested. Therefore, these won't harm her, but you may also want to try some of the above with her as well. While you are doing this, I would advise that you continue to monitor fecal output. I would advise trying the above measures, but if you aren't seeing feces in the next 12-24 hours, or she begins to vomit or worsens, then she needs to be evaluated by a vet. Severe impactions of feces are usually secondary to more serious diseases, so if she doesn't respond to our gentle colon cleaning treatments, then she may require more aggressive treatment (ie enemas under sedation).

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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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Many thanks for your comprehensive answer!

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Dr B


 


Millie was diagnosed with arthritis last year and was given metacam .i still have some left which has been in the fridge and is still in date.


 


I am a responsible cat owner and love her to bits but the problem is i am due to go away for the weekend tonight and she will be on her own until Sunday midday. Feel guilty to leave her.....i know you cant guarantee anything as you havent examined her in person but do you think this is high risk to leave her? none of my local vets are open over the weekend (apart from in an emergency)


 


she has just drunk some water and I have changed the catsmilk to cows milk but she wasnt interested in it. how about massaging stomach area?


she has only had a few mouthfuls of wet food today together with a very small bowl of the catsmilk .....is 4 days an exceptionally long, dangerous amount of time not to defecate?


 


there is a very slight chance she has been in that time as she has a catflap and access to the garden ....


 


any thoughts?


 


many thanks

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

You are very welcome Lois,

If you have some Metcam and haven't treated her with any in the past 24 hours (and provided she is eating, and doesn't have any vomiting or diarrhea at the moment), then you give her a dose to see if settling that underlying joint discomfort helps her get on with passing these feces. You can also massage her stomach and GI, but I don't find that it particularly will aid moving feces through the gut (getting them moving would usually be of more benefit).

Now the cat flap does give us a wee challenge, since we cannot really know if she has been or not. That said, if she is showing a bit of appetite decline and lethargy, then I'd be suspicious that she hasn't passed feces.

In regards to time frame, we'd expect a cat to have a bowel movement at least every 24-48 hours. So, as you can see this is getting a bit longer then we'd want to see for her. Therefore, we'd want to get on this now with those above treatments to see if we can get things moving as soon as possible. And this does make your weekend situation a wee bit difficult. Because if we can get her passing feces today with the above then I'd not consider her being on her own a high risk situation. That said, as a cat who hasn't passed feces in 4 days, I'd not want to leave her alone if she doesn't pass any. So, it is a case of using our home treatments to get things moving (even if we end up with a bit of sloppy stool from being pro-active just now). And if we cannot and you need to be away, then we'd have to think about getting the ER vet involved or seeing if a friend can take her to her regular vet during their Sat. morning surgery (for lack of any other option). Because she would be a significant risk to be home alone if constipated for 4 days.

So, if she hasn't had a dose of Metacam had in 24 hours, then consider giving a dose now and consider trying some of the above. Since she is being fussy with the more mild laxative agents and time is of these essence, you may want to skip to the lactulose (which should be OTC at the pharmacy) and consider giving her a few millilitres of this now to see if you can relieve her constipation and concern for needing to leave her on her own.

All the best,

Dr. B.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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