If a cat does not defecate, this is not automatically a reason for concern. However, you should closely monitor the stool to be able to consult a veterinarian in time.
Because constipation is not uncommon in cats, but unfortunately can have serious consequences and even lead to life-threatening conditions. Quick intervention is therefore crucial.
If your cat suffers repeatedly from constipation or rarely defecates, a check-up is always advisable. We’ll show you what to look out for and how to improve defecation with your cat’s diet.
In this article, you will learn when a lack of bowel movements in your cat is a cause for concern and what you can do about it. Important information about nutrition, intestinal health, constipation and megacolon can also be found here.
Cat has no bowel movement – At what point is it a concern?
Digestion takes twelve to 24 hours in cats. So if you feed your cat once or twice a day, it should also defecate once or twice a day.
If it takes 36 or even 48 hours, this is not yet a concern in an otherwise healthy animal. However, two days should be the absolute maximum.
If there is no defecation during this time, you need to see a veterinarian. This is because there may be some causes behind the lack of feces that require prompt treatment.
If a health restriction is already known, for example a megacolon or intestinal sluggishness, you should act sooner. After all, the more time that passes, the worse the constipation will become.
8 common causes of absent defecation in cats.
If there is a lack of bowel movements, several reasons can be responsible for this. These include:
diarrhea or gastrointestinal infections
insufficient or wrong nutrition
pain when defecating
side effects of medication
Constipation due to foreign bodies, tumors or poorly healed fractures
lack of exercise
Depending on the cause, treatment also varies.
1: Diarrhea or gastrointestinal infections
Did your cat just have diarrhea or even vomited in addition? Then the gastrointestinal tract is initially empty.
Accordingly, the feces may be delayed and reduced.
As long as vomiting and diarrhea subside on their own, a visit to the vet is not absolutely necessary in an otherwise healthy animal.
2: Poor or incorrect diet
Cats are picky eaters and do not always eat what is good for them. In some cases, they may refuse food they don’t like or suffer from loss of appetite.
If they consume little food or are fed incorrectly, this can result in reduced fecal output.
If there is too little fiber, too little liquid and hard-to-digest ingredients, constipation is possible.
3: Intestinal sluggishness
Intestinal sluggishness can cause food mush to remain in the intestine too long, depriving it of more and more water.
As a result, it becomes dry and hard, making it difficult to defecate.
In turn, such sluggishness or weakness of the muscles can occur for a variety of reasons. These include:
lack of exercise
side effects of medication
4: Stress and anxiety
If your cat is stressed or scared, he may not dare to go to the litter box anymore.
This is the case, for example, if she was once frightened in the litter box, lives in households with other animals, or is unsettled by life changes.
This includes, among other things, moves, new additions to the family or a new partner, but also the loss of a familiar animal.
Cats then hold the stool consciously and forced because they do not feel safe enough.
This in turn can make the feces very dry and hard, making it noticeably more difficult to defecate.
5: Pain when defecating
Conscious holding of feces can also occur if your cat is experiencing pain during defecation.
For example, older animals often have arthritis or osteoarthritis. This makes it difficult to assume a squatting position and push with force.
Injuries to the anal area are another possible cause of pain during defecation.
A megacolon is a severely enlarged, baggy section of intestine.
The food mush is transported from this only with difficulty and can accumulate over a longer period of time.
If this occurs, the feces must often be removed under anesthesia. The affected animals are often no longer able to defecate on their own.
If a megacolon is present, the diet must be fundamentally changed and, if necessary, laxatives must be administered in the medium term. In the long term, however, the only remedy is surgery to remove the affected part of the intestine.
7: Blockages caused by foreign bodies, tumors or poorly healed fractures.
If the intestine is constricted by tumors, poorly healed fractures in the pelvic area or foreign bodies, the digested food mush can come to a standstill.
Further transport is then no longer possible. This poses the risk of intestinal obstruction.
The only remedy is to correct the underlying problem.
Overweight cats are often sluggish, move less and eat too much. On the one hand, this slows down the movement of the intestines.
For another, metabolism can change negatively, which in turn affects digestion and overall health.
In order to remedy the situation in the long term, the excess weight must be reduced in a targeted manner. Your veterinarian can help you with this.
Unless megacolon is present, increasing the amount of fiber can provide fewer calories and softer stools.
Merely reducing the amount of food often does not bring the desired success.
Risks associated with constipation
Signs and potential dangers of no defecation for your cats include:
Cramping and pain
Loss of appetite
Apathy and lethargy
Bloat or gas
Pushing and clenching in an attempt to defecate
Necrosis of intestinal segments
Urinary tract obstruction
Your cat may try to defecate, pushing out blood and mucus, but not stool.
In these cases, as well as dehydration or pre-existing health problems, you need to see a veterinarian immediately.
Any waiting would only worsen the condition and may cost your cat its life.
Treatment of constipation in cats
How the therapy turns out, if your cat had no bowel movement for too long, depends on the cause.
In mild cases, the administration of a laxative and, if necessary, an enema with an enema is usually sufficient.
An infusion may also be needed to regulate fluid balance.
In more difficult cases, it is usually necessary to put your cat under anesthesia and loosen solid stool by flushing.
If this measure also does not work or is not sufficient, a clearing of the intestine must be done with an endoscope or manually.
Surgery may be necessary if the obstruction is too far from the anus or a section of intestine is already dead.
Cat has no bowel movement – prevent constipation
Before your cat becomes (repeatedly) constipated or has problems with bowel movements, you can incorporate some preventative measures into everyday life. These are:
- Change in diet: avoid dry food or use it only as a treat during play in very small amounts. Also make sure that your dog gets enough fiber.
- Increase hydration: Many cats drink very small amounts. Cat drinking fountains or adding fluids to food can help, as can “cat drinks.” Flavoring water also helps with some pussycats.
- Incorporate more exercise: Often cats are not too playful at a more mature age. You can still provide more activity by encouraging your sofa lion to move. Throw treats, offer fishing toys and create climbing opportunities.
- Regular Health Checks: Cats are masters at hiding pain and illness. So get regular general exams from your veterinarian to catch problems early and have them treated if necessary. As your cat ages, this is a good idea anyway to counteract typical limitations as early as possible.
- Avoid stress: Did your cat reliably go to the litter box before and now avoids it? Maybe she associates it with fear, a fright moment or pain. The latter can be the case if your animal was not sufficiently supplied with painkillers after a castration or had discomfort during defecation due to an injury. Also, make sure the toilet is clean and in a place where your cat will not be disturbed. You should avoid abrupt changes.
Cat has no bowel movement – every day counts
If your cat does not defecate, this is a cause for concern from the second day and a case for the vet from the third day at the latest.
If your cat suffers more often from constipation or has a megacolon, you should visit the vet earlier.
Because then it is often possible to enable defecation with gentle methods.
However, the best thing here – as with many other things – is future prevention.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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