Many cats are notorious for not drinking much water. This makes them prone to constipation. It would be a major error to take this condition lightly. Constipation is never normal. It can lead to a lot of suffering and a poor quality of life, so it should be taken seriously.

Why is constipation in cats a big deal?

First, constipation is not a pleasant experience for any cat. Second, repeated episodes of constipation can cause irreversible enlargement of the colon. Serious constipation can lead to a condition where the cat cannot expel stools at all, and needs an enema. At worst, a cat can be so blocked up or “impacted,” and the colon so enlarged, that surgery is the only option.

What causes constipation in cats?
The most common causes of feline constipation are:

  • Dehydration
  • Painful defecation
  • Stress in the home
  • A dirty litter box
  • A disease

Identifying the cause is not always easy, but it’s important so that we can manage the constipation and reduce the chances of it worsening. A thorough discussion with your family vet will help you determine the cause.

Your vet may ask:

  • Was there a change in diet?
  • Was there a change in water intake?
  • Is your cat on any medication?
  • Are there any painful joints that might keep your cat from reaching the litter box?
  • Is there excessive licking or grooming?
  • Could it be a litter box issue?
  • Was the type of litter changed?
  • Is the litter box cleaned often enough?
  • Are there multiple cats and not enough litter boxes?
  • Is there a source of stress in the household, such as a new cat or a new dog?

How can you prevent constipation in cats?

Here are several ways to decrease the risk of constipation in cats:

  • Feeding your cat canned food is an easy way to increase water intake. Dry food may contain about 10-20% water, whereas canned food may have 80%
  • Make sure there are multiple litter boxes if you have several cats
  • Clean each litter box at least once daily
  • Different cats prefer different types of litter. Make sure your cat seems happy with the litter you choose
  • Discuss a daily laxative with your veterinarian
  • Increase exercise and playful activities

What are the signs of constipation in cats?
Constipated cats may be seen straining in the litter box. When in pain, constipated cats may vocalize during defecation. They often have decreased thirst and appetite. Constipation can also cause vomiting.

It is important to differentiate constipated cats from cats with urinary blockage. At first glance, they may look the same: straining in the litter box. However from a medical standpoint, the two conditions are radically different.

Testing for constipation in cats
As always, your family vet will start with a thorough physical exam. Diseases of the anus or rectum can cause pain during defecation. Blood work may reveal a metabolic disease, such as low potassium or high calcium. It also can show dehydration. A colon full of stool can be felt or palpated during the exam, unless the cat is seriously overweight. For overweight cats, an X-ray of the belly can be taken to assess the extent of the situation and the size of the colon. In addition, an X-ray of the pelvis may reveal old, untreated fractures causing a mechanical blockage, which can prevent stools from being expelled.

Treating constipation in cats
Depending on the severity of constipation, treatment may include:

  • Fluids, IV or under the skin (rehydration)
  • Manual removal of stools, along with an enema (from your veterinarian)
  • A diet change, that is rich in fibers
  • A laxative
  • Drugs (called promotility drugs) to move food and fecal matter “downward”
  • In extreme cases, surgery is required to remove the colon, which is then called a megacolon

Why could my constipated cat need surgery?
Extreme or terminal constipation is called obstipation. A cat with obstipation is suffering and has a miserable quality of life. The colon is so stretched by large, rock-hard stools, that it is incapable of expelling them. The muscles of the colon become unable to do their job. In those cases, medications, diet changes and enemas become useless. The goal of surgery (called a colectomy) is to remove the diseased, giant colon. Usually performed by a board-certified surgeon, this delicate surgery can be a life-saving procedure. Quality of life is typically excellent after surgery.

Questions to ask your veterinarian:

  • How can we treat my cat’s early constipation?
  • Are we catching his condition early enough?
  • Does my cat need surgery?

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital (OVSH) has been serving the Portland and Beaverton area community since 1979. Dr. Robert T. Franklin (Internal medicine) welcomes referrals from veterinarians all over the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help your pet regain health and live a long and happy life.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital

9339 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy,
Beaverton, OR 97005.

Phone: 503.292.3001
Fax: 503.292.6808
Email: [email protected]

Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

By David Walker | Article Featured on Veterinary Experts

Chronic inflammatory enteropathy (or CIE) is a disease that causes inflammation of the bowel. It has some similarities to a human disease called Crohn’s disease. The inflammation can affect any or all of the stomach, small bowel and large bowel (colon).

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Blood Transfusions in Dogs and Cats

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As we start to provide more advanced healthcare to cats and dogs, blood transfusions are becoming increasingly common and increasingly complex. Blood transfusions in dogs and cats may be needed for many reasons and come in many forms.

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Urinary Blockage in Cats: A Real Emergency

By DR. DONNA SPECTOR DVM, DACVIM  | Featured on Vetstreet

A urinary blockage occurs when there is an obstruction in the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. When this happens it is difficult or impossible for a cat to empty the bladder, making it a life-threatening emergency. If your cat is having trouble urinating (see list below), do not delay in having him or her checked by your veterinarian.

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Prevention is the key with this disease. Distemper in dogs is caused by a virus which is spread through most body fluids including saliva, urine, and blood. It is highly contagious and often deadly. At first, the disease mimics kennel cough, with goopy eyes, fever, runny nose, coughing, and tiredness the most common symptoms. Later signs of infection include seizures and paralysis. That’s why getting the vaccination against the virus is critical.

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In humans, a hemorrhoid is defined as a swollen blood vessel in the lower rectum or anus. They can be internal or protrude externally, and can range from very painful to mildly uncomfortable—a real pain in the you know where.

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Reasons Cats Get Sick After a Meal

By MADELEINE BURRY Original Article
Hearing your cat throw up is nothing out of the ordinary for most cat owners. We usually just think that they ate a little too much or too quickly. Although this is often the case, sometimes there can be a more serious reason.
If you’re a cat owner, it’s very likely a familiar occurrence that shortly after feeding your cat, you hear the sounds of regurgitation, and realize your cat has vomited. Why is it so common for cats to throw up after eating, and should you be concerned? Here are five common reasons behind cat vomiting, from the not-so-serious to potentially serious problems that necessitate a visit to the vet.


When you set out wet food, or refill your cat’s dish with dry food, they can get a little too excited to nosh, and eat too quickly. Food eaten too quickly doesn’t get digested well, causing your cat to vomit. Movement or exercise after eating can also spur vomiting. If your cat vomits as a result of speedy eating, try feeding her several small meals throughout the day, rather than one large bowl full of food.


Although hairballs are caused by hairs ingested during your cat’s grooming, and not by mealtime food, presence of hairballs can also lead to vomiting after your cat eats.


If your cat is eating something in their food that they they’re allergic to, or even if your cat simply has an intolerance to it, this can lead to vomiting.


Switching foods could introduce an ingredient that causes an allergic reaction, but it could also simply throw off your cat’s eating routine, leading to vomiting after a meal. To avoid this, always switch to a new food gradually.


In addition to vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome can lead to upset stomachs and diarrhea. If you notice these symptoms, a visit to the vet is recommended to come up with a treatment plan.


More serious problems can also cause cats to vomit. For instance, your cat may have a stomach obstruction as a result of ingesting a non-food item, like a rubber band. Or your cat may have accidentally eaten something poisonous. It’s also possible that your cat has a metabolic disorder, like a kidney-related problem or hyperthyroidism.
So as a pet owner, what should you do if your cat vomits frequently? If the vomit seems clearly tied to your cat scarfing down food at mealtime, you should try feeding your cat several small meals, as opposed to one or two large ones, and providing food at the same time each day. If your cat is a serious groomer then a specially formulated “hairball food” or supplement can help.
If vomiting persists on a weekly basis or more frequently, then there might be a more serious cause and a visit to the vet is recommended.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital (OVSH) has been serving the Portland and Beaverton area community since 1979. Beaverton Veterinary Specialist Dr. Robert T. Franklin (Internal medicine) welcomes referrals from veterinarians all over the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help your pet regain health and live a long and happy life.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital

9339 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy,
Beaverton, OR 97005.
Phone: 503.292.3001
Fax: 503.292.6808
Email: [email protected]

specialty vet care, beaverton

Dangerous Pet Medication Mixes to Avoid

Article by Jennifer Coates, DVM | PetMD
Pets with multiple and/or serious health problems often end up taking many medications, and the more they take, the greater the risk that an adverse reaction might occur. Drug interactions develop as a result of changes in the body’s ability to absorb, metabolize, or excrete medications (among other, less common reasons), but the effects fall into just two categories: Read more


How to Give Your Pet a Pill

Article Found on PetMD | Written by Mindy Cohen
Giving oral medication to a cat or dog can be a challenge for pet parents. If your veterinarian recommends medication for your cat or dog, she has your pet’s best interest in mind. Fortunately, pilling a pet is not an impossible task once you learn a few tricks of the trade. Here’s how to increase your success. Read more