Thank you Sharon,
I am glad that you are seeing no urinary abnormalities ( as their signs can often be mistaken for fecal issues) and that we can focus on her fecal struggles. And if her feces are very firm, then it is quite possible that she does have a degree of constipation here. As well, while we do have to consider overgrooming issues like flea allergy dermatitis (Frontline has been shockingly poor at flea control this last year here in the UK), if she has had a recent increase in overgrooming around her tail, it is possible that it is secondary to her fecal issues as a displacement behavior with her discomfort. Therefore, with all this in mind, we'd want to take some steps to ease her passage of feces and keep an eye on whether the overgrooming settles with it.
Now in regards ***** ***** the fecal straining that she is having at the moment, there are a few things you can do at home to get things moving along. First, you can use 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. And it would be a good ongoing treatment to keep things moving for her over time.
That said, if she is straining now and we need to get things moving for her quickly, you can consider administering a small volume of Miralax (1 tsp per 24 hours), lactulose (LINK), liquid paraffin (the UK version of this, not the American-since they don't mean the same thing) or food grade 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. These would be our point of call if she is actively straining now, with the hair ball treatment being a better day to day option. Furthermore, to facilitate keeping her regular to reduce her struggles, we do find that adding a teaspoon of canned pumpkin or a 1/4 teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil or Benefiber helpful. 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).
And of course, encouraging drinking and wet foods is ideal to keep the feces from getting overly dried out in her GI.
Finally, as I noted, I would keep an eye on her overgrooming at this stage. Frontline really struggled this year, so I'd advise making a change to another product (ie Advocate, Activyl, Advantage II). Furthermore, if you are concerned about allergies, you can consider trying her with Piriton (ie 1-2mg or 1/4 – 1/2 tablet of a 4mg Piriton tablet up to twice daily). Do note that while anti-histamines will break that itchiness cycle and give her skin the chance it needs to settle, it can make kitties drowsy. Therefore, we always keep the dose low and if she were to be drowsy on this, then we'd reduce the dose to once daily for her. And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your kitty has any pre-existing conditions or are on any other medication without speaking to your vet.
Overall, it does sound like Coco's overly firm feces is playing a role in the signs you are seeing (potentially the grooming too). So, we'd want to use the above steps to help her fecal passage and regularity. And if her skin wasn't settling, we'd want to consider a better flea treatment and Piriton to settle any allergic cause for the overgrooming.
I hope this information is helpful.
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All the best,
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