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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22612
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My cat has a good appetite and purrs as usual. She is visiting

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My cat has a good appetite and purrs as usual. She is visiting the litter box more often and seems constipated. She has licked her back so much that her hair has come out and she has a bald patch. Other than that she is eating well and hasn´t changed energetically

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

How long has she had these signs?

Can you confirm that she is urinating normally?

Are you seeing any inflammation or dampness around her vagina?

When did she last pass feces?

Was it very hard or soft?

Did the grooming signs start at the same time?

Any scabs at the bald tail base or anywhere else on her?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr B. She has excessively groomed herself in that area for some time (months) but she has lost the hair more recently. She has the bottom of her tail and the base of her tail is very dry and yes there is a scab there. Her stools are quite regular but hard and I can see that sometimes it is difficult for her. She stands up in the tray and then jumps out without going and I need to clean her as she hasn´t been but she is dirty. However every day there are hard rounded stools and sometimes we have been amazed at how big they are which is why I mentioned constipation. I haven´t noticed dampness around her vagina

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.

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

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! : )

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your detailed answer. It sounds logical to me but I would just ask one more question that your previous questions brought to mind; How often do cats normally urinate? She seems to be rather obsessed with the litter tray and because of the fecal issues sometimes I´m not sure either way. She does seem to be in there rather a lot and it would be good to have a comparison so that I can be vigilent to any urinary issues that may exist too. Thank you so much

Hi again Sharon,

Now it can vary a wee bit by cat (ie individual needs, wet food in diet, volume they drink, etc), but generally speaking cats typically only need to pass urine a few times (2-3) daily. So, we would just want to keep an eye whether she is passing urine at any of these litter box visits. As well and likely easier, we can monitor if there are signs of significant volumes of urine being passed in the box (as opposed to just drops if she had a bladder infection). So, we'd just want to keep an eye on that and that she isn't trying to go in odd places (as some will with urinary issues) while addressing those other signs.

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! : )
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