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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My long-haired cat has been constipated since I got her. I brush her daily and give her tonic lax a couple of times a week, but she rarely goes. When she does, she goes outside of the litter box. Sometimes she cries and drags her bottom. If she does poop in the litter box, she won’t urinate in there, so now she is also urinating outside of the box. I’ve taken her to the vet twice with no answers. I’m wondering what to do.

~ Carmen

Siouxsie: Well, Carmen, the first thing we recommend is that you get a second opinion about your cat’s constipation.

Thomas: Cats normally pass one to three bowel movements a day, and if she’s not doing that, something is definitely out of whack, and obviously the tonic lax isn’t doing anything to change that.

Bella: Another reason why you should seek another opinion is that your cat may be suffering from a urinary tract issue. The reason we say this is because now she’s stated peeing outside the box — a common symptom of urinary tract troubles.

Siouxsie: So, what causes constipation in cats? The most common causes are dehydration and impaction by fur or hairballs.

Thomas: You’re brushing your cat every day, so you’re certainly doing your part to prevent her from filling her stomach and digestive tract with fur.

Bella: Dehydration is pretty common in cats. You see, we cats are evolved from desert creatures and so we have a very low thirst drive. We’re designed to get all the moisture we need in our food, and when we eat only dry food, we’ll almost certainly get dehydrated!

Siouxsie: So, we recommend feeding canned food, and maybe even adding more liquid to the canned ration by putting a teaspoon or two of warm (not hot!) water in it.

Thomas: Also, make sure to keep your cat’s water supply fresh. Wash and refill her water dish every day, and consider investing in a cat fountain because some cats prefer to drink from running water.

Bella: Other potential causes for constipation are blocked or abscessed anal glands, tumors, a foreign body she ate that’s blocking her digestive tract, and metabolic conditions like diabetes or kidney disease that cause excessive urination.

Siouxsie: I know that sometimes I get a little bound up because when my hips get sore it hurts to assume the poop squat. Hey, I’m an old kitty — my aches and pains are legitimately earned! Fortunately, Mama makes sure I get plenty of liquids in my diet to keep my constipation to a minimum.

Thomas: Whatever the cause is, Carmen, you need to talk to a vet — either your current vet or another one — to find out what’s really going on. It may require diagnostic tests like X-rays and blood work to figure out the underlying cause of your kitty’s chronic constipation.

Bella: But if you don’t get your cat’s issue correctly diagnosed and treated, her chronic constipation could result in megacolon — when the colon gets so full of feces that it stretches out and loses its ability to move stools.

Siouxsie: So, Carmen — up her liquid intake by feeding her canned food with a little extra water in it; make sure she always has fresh, clean water to drink; and get her to a vet who will help you figure out what’s going on with her.

Thomas: How about you other readers? Have you had a constipated cat, and what did you do to relieve the problem? Please share your tips, too.

Bella: In the meantime, Carmen, we hope everything comes out okay. Tee hee hee!

Siouxsie: Oh, honestly, Bella…

Thomas: Please let us know what’s going on with your cat and if you were able to get he regular again. Purrs to you!