Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I am the doting parent of Bobbie, an orange girl kitty without a tail. Sometimes she can’t get her poop all the way out and she cries when I pull it out. What can I do to end this problem?
Thomas: Well, Donna, it sounds like your cat may be suffering from constipation, but there are a lot of potential causes of that problem. The most common of these is dehydration.
Bella: Cats that eat dry food very rarely get enough water in their diets, even if you have fresh water down for them to drink at all times.
Tara: The reason for this is that cats have a very low “thirst drive” — that is, unlike you humans who get a particular sensation when you need water, we don’t unless we get very, very thirsty.
Thomas: You see, the modern house cat is thought by most scientists to be evolved from a desert-dwelling feline, and in the desert, the only way a predator can get water is through the prey it eats.
Bella: Therefore, if you’re feeding kibble, we’d recommend switching to canned food because it has more moisture in it and should help her pass feces more easily.
Tara: Some cat food manufacturers also make a pumpkin product that you can put in with your Bobbie’s food, and the extra fiber might help get things moving along, too.
Thomas: But really, we think you should take her to the vet and have your vet give her a complete once-over. The reason we say this is that if Bobbie has been chronically constipated, she could have developed a complication called megacolon.
Bella: That’s just like it sounds: When the colon fills up with lots of feces, it can expand and lose the muscle tone needed to push poop out of the body.
Tara: Also, since she is tailless, and assuming she was born that way and didn’t have her tail amputated due to trauma, she may be suffering from a condition called Manx Syndrome.
Thomas: Manxes are cats that are bred to have no tails, and some of those cats are afflicted with spinal problems that can result in neurological issues, incontinence, or its opposite, chronic constipation.
Bella: If your cat does have Manx Syndrome, your vet will be able to give you tips on how to keep her in tip-top shape and keep her bowels functioning as well as possible.
Tara: Manx Syndrome is not a condition that can be cured, but it (and its effects) can be managed well with regular vet care.
Thomas: Now, we’re not veterinarians ourselves, so please don’t take anything we say as a diagnosis or a treatment recommendation that a vet would offer. We’ve given you tips on how to deal with uncomplicated constipation, but if the condition is chronic, that definitely requires a trip to the vet.
Bella: Mama says that if one of us got constipated on a regular basis, she’d take us to the vet just to make sure everything is okay.
Tara: Oh, and by the way, it might not be a good idea to pull the poop out of your cat. If it’s really wedged in there, you could accidentally cause a rectal prolapse, where the tissues of the rectum get on the outside instead of staying inside where they belong.
Thomas: A rectal prolapse is definitely something that needs to be treated by a vet.
Bella: Another reason you shouldn’t pull on anything hanging out of your cat’s bottom is that if it’s attached to something a lot longer like, say, a string, that can cause major and potentially fatal damage to the intestines.
Tara: So, Donna, we’d recommend a trip to the vet to see what he or she recommends to treat the constipation and to see if your kitty might have Manx Syndrome. We’d also suggest switching to canned food, leaving lots of fresh water, and occasionally using some pumpkin fiber made for cats.
Thomas: Not pumpkin pie filling, mind you!
Bella: But pumpkin pie filling is good.
Tara: Ew, no it’s not!
Bella: Bet you’ve never even tried it.
Tara: Bet you haven’t tried it!
Bella: Bet you haven’t!
Tara: Bet you haven’t!
Thomas: Ladies, please!
Bella: Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, pumpkin pie filling, while tasty to some well-bred cats such as myself, is not ideal as a fiber source because it has sugar in it, and kitties don’t do well on sugar.
Tara: Well-bred cats indeed. Little hiss machine!
Thomas: Well, I guess we’d better wrap this up before the ladies start a serious fight. If you other readers have suggestions for how to deal with kitty constipation, please share them in the comments!