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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
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Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Can I give my 18+year old arthritic, constipated cat codliver

Resolved Question:

Can I give my 18+year old arthritic, constipated cat codliver oil with her food?
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.


First, I would note that you will want to avoid using cod liver oil (the vitamin A can be a bit too much for cats in the long term) but can use Omega 3 & 6 fish oils. These can lubricate the upper GI before they are digested but also is good for aged kitty joints and can help with arthritis (whcih can be a trigger for increased constipation in elderly cats).

Otherwise, since fish oils are digestible and therefore only of limited use to the whole GI when we are treating constipation, I do want to outline some other options you can use with Piccolo to ease her passing feces. Now to start, 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.

Another option that can help and be used long term would be cat 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 this would be much better then fish oil (though that is still of value for her joints), since that would absorb in the gut too quickly to help move feces down the lower GI.


Alternatively, you can administer a small volume of Miralax (1 tsp per 24 hours), lactulose (LINK) or food grade liquid paraffin or mineral oil orally. All should be available OTC at the chemist or from your vets. Ideally, instead of offering it direct, do consider adding it to a food she likes (ie tuna in spring water -not oil or brine). This is much safer, since giving directly could lead to aspiration if she struggled when it was given.

Finally, if she is a cat that struggles to pass feces regularly, you can consider increasing her dietary fiber to help push the feces through her GI. To do so, you can consider mixing some canned pumpkin or a 1/4 teaspoon of unflavored Metamucil/Benefiber into her food daily. 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 alongside this, promoting her to drink well is also advisable (since constipation can be due to dehydration).


Overall, if she isn't straining or in discomfort but just has some difficulty passing feces in her old age; then we can use the above steps to get things moving for her While doing so, we do want to keep a close eye on her fecal and urinary output. If you try the above but don't see feces within the next 12-24 hours, then we'd want to consider getting your vet involved. 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) to clear this for her.

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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Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 19699
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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