Severe Constipation

fundamenta_novi

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First off, I feel a lot of guilt and shame about my mistakes and shortcomings in regards to the health of my cats. I took two beautiful, wonderful three-year old cats in back in 2016, at a time when I was extremely depressed and struggling with addiction. If I had been more responsible and self-aware of the my limitations, I would not have taken on the responsibility of taking care of these cats to begin with. They have been the sweetest companions I could have ever asked for, and I've failed them in many ways, and no one could possibly by more angry at me about that than I am towards myself. So what I am looking for is help on how to rectify and make the best of the situation going forward. I'm in recovery now, mentally stable, working towards financial stability (the pandemic didn't help much there), and I just want to be a better daddy to my cats (who are now seven years old).

My cats have been constipated for a long time. Their feces comes out in small, usually round chunks, and there's not a lot of it. One of my cats has been pooping outside the litter box since last summer, usually right near the box, but sometimes in another location of the house. I am afraid for their health, and am pretty sure they are both quite backed up with poop because of the small quantities of their deposits.

They've been eating Purina Indoor cat chow (in the green bag) since I've had them (it was what their previous human used, so I just stuck with that). I do not know if their problem is dietary, stress-related, or both. We currently live in a very low-stress environment, but that wasn't the case until about October of last year.

I cannot afford to take them to the vet right now, but it is an utmost priority, hopefully I can make it happen within the next few weeks. I've done some research online, but it would be really helpful to receive advice from anyone who has successfully resolved severe feline constipation before. Thank you for your time.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! Welcome - we're glad you're here!

I personally think that probably every one of us has made mistakes with our cats - as long as a person learns from it, that's the main thing:)

Try canned food as soon as you can - fancy feast can work. If you can get them eating canned food which has more moisture in it, there's some chance that their digestive systems will adjust and their poops could become more normal.

Chewy . com and amazon may still be out of canned food/fancy feast, but the brick 'n mortar stores seem to have more availability - petsmart, petco - also check their online versions, also there is The Big Bad Woof, and even Ebay for sources of fancy feast et al.

Transitioning Your Cat From Kibble To A New Type Of Food – Cat Articles

Transitioning Free-fed Kibble Kitties To Timed Meals – Cat Articles

Also, try cleaning with an enzymatic cleaner and putting non-scented puppy pee pads down under the litterbox and in that area - or even place a litterbox there. Try a litter called Cat Attract, it may help. Does he seem stiff, limping or arthritic at all? You could consider a low sided litter box, or just cut out part of a side of one of the ones you have and file or melt the edges a little bit so they aren't so rough. You should have at least two litterboxes, the general rule is one per cat, plus an extra so in your case three would be suggested.

Just in case, maybe there's something here;
(apologies for any dead links);
Financial Assistance – Day By Day Caregiver Support Inc.

Financial Aid for Pets

No Money For Vet Care? How To Find Help And Save Your Cat's Life

About Waggle | Vet Financial Assistance | Financial Aid For Pets
 

stephanietx

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I know I've made mistakes when caring for my kitties. You've done the right thing and you're seeking advice. Good for you!

I second the suggestion for going with wet food. I would look for the classic pate brands of Fancy Feast or go with something that's grain free which, sadly, is usually more expensive. I like to add a little bit of warm water to my cats' wet food to get even more water in them. We also add about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of plain canned pumpkin to the wet food mix to help things moving. I just get the generic Walmart brand and keep it in the fridge once opened. You can freeze half the can in a ziploc to keep it fresher.

ETA: Regarding pooping outside the box, make sure you're cleaning the box frequently. I have one that will poop outside the box if it's not up to his standard of clean. Also, try adding an additional box to see if that helps.
 

molly92

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Definitely switch to whatever wet food is in your budget. That will help enormously. If that is not enough, you can also get Miralax over the counter and mix it in with their wet food, starting at 1/8 teaspoon twice a day. You can increase the dose if necessary. This was the recommendation of my vet, and also my aunt, who is a vet who had never seen my cat before, so I'm confident it is safe. Miralax helps by absorbing more water and making the stool softer. It does not fix the systemic problem, but it is helpful when dealing with constipation. It will not affect any hard stool already in their bowels though, and if that is causing a blockage, you may need to try an additive that will push everything through. Psyllium or slippery elm bark are options there. Not for long-term use without a vet's OK, but good in a pinch.

When wet food and Miralax wasn't enough for my cat, I added L. acidophilus probiotic to her food (PB8 Nutrition Now, half a capsule 2X a day), and it has resolved all of her problems as long as she gets it regularly.

Once the constipation is completely resolved, you may still have litter box avoidance issues because they're afraid of the litter box causing constipation, and you may benefit from buying an entirely new litter box and put it in a new place. If you get the new box while they're still having straining issues it won't work, so you have to wait until they are all better. In the meantime, puppy pads or disposable litter boxes can help so you don't have to clean as much.

If they are still having bowel movements at all and eating and drinking, you are not in severe territory yet. If they go more than 4 days without a bowel movement, stop eating or drinking, and/or become lethargic, then you have reached an emergency situation and need an enema and fluids from the vet. Best to address it before it reaches that point, which you are trying to do, so good work.

Do not beat yourself up about this. This is a surprisingly common problem, and it's great that you were able to recognize it and seem to have diagnosed it correctly. You might find switching to wet food alone does the trick, or you might also need some help from the above supplements, but based on your description, I'm pretty confident you can get them through this. As soon as you can get them in to see a vet for a check-up that will be a good idea for their general health, but for this problem, I believe you can get by for now without.
 
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fundamenta_novi

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First of all, thanks a ton, everyone. Sorry for vanishing on you; my online forum habits etiquette needs some work apparently.

I haven't yet transitioned my cats to wet food (more on that in a second). However, I did get them a fountain, hoping it would inspire them to drink more water. It's working! Their feces is getting softer and larger. I never thought a big, juicy turd would be where I find my joy in life, but there you go.

Still having some issues with pooping outside the box, but I think it's slightly less of an issue than it used to be. I will try the "get new litter boxes" approach shortly. One of my cats, Cinnamon, gets absolutely ticked off at me when I attempt to put her in the box to show her that's where she's supposed to poop. She's usually sweet and mild mannered, but she runs away from me and growls if I approach her after she's gone on the floor. So she's probably having a rougher time of things than her brother, Turbo. Cinnamon has been really lethargic lately too, but part of that may be the heat.

I want to start getting wet food (and putting them on an eating schedule instead of just letting them graze as they have so far), but I was laid off with the pandemic and money is just really tight right now. When I look at prices, serving suggestions, and my overweight cats, I am disheartened. They are about 12 lbs, which seems to be translating to nearly 5 cans a day each? So 10 cans a day... I can't even fathom paying for anything close to that right now. I have been looking into mixing wet and dry food. There is so much conflicting info out there, it makes my head spin.

I know that if they develop serious health problems, that's a lot more expensive to treat than buying food that makes it less likely for those problems to happen. But it's hard when the money just isn't there. I feel guilty about this, and sometimes I wonder if the responsible, loving thing to do would be to find them a new home. But I feel like there has to be a way to make this work.

One thing is for sure. I will never repeat these mistakes again. I will do everything I can to fix this. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more income flowing shortly. Any feedback on any points here appreciated.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi!
My heart is with you on this whole thing!
Not to concern yourself with the serving quantities on the cans. At this point, try just a can a day, split between them to start. Later you can see how things are and can increase the quantity of canned food. Friskies and fancy feast pates are foods you could start with, including the extra gravy varieties.

Would your vet be willing to work out a payment plan? Her grouchiness and lethargy are a bit concerning--try to avoid lifting her in case it's causing here discomfort.

In case you haven't seen these;


(apologies for any dead links);



 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I would suggest that you try to determine how much dry food they are eating daily, just so you have a starting point with the calorie intake. You can measure the amount you put out for them in the morning, then measure again at the end of the day to see just how much they ate. Once you have repeated this for a few days, using the amount of calories listed by measurement on their current food, you will pretty much know the number of calories they are currently eating. And, just keep an eye on them to see if you can tell if one is eating more than the other - for future reference. Adding just one can of Fancy Feast (3 oz split between them) for one meal each day is a good way to start. Most of the pates are around 95-100 calories, so you could just place a smaller amount of the dry down accordingly.

You can also try adding water to their current food to see if they would eat it that way for more moisture. You could still leave their dry food out for free feeding, but a lesser amount, and then set one meal aside a day for them to eat the dry moistened with water. Even that will help with moisture content. If they like it that way, you can add more meals of moistened dry food per day, and just decrease the dry that is left out all day for them. You can also mix some wet and dry just to see what they do.

There are a number of techniques for you to try that won't break the bank to start off with. I am glad to hear that the water fountain alone is making a positive difference in their stool. Having a bit more moisture through one of the above techniques might just be enough to ease your mind! Play around with these aspects, and worry about what to do next once you find some things that work for them to get even more moisture.

Cinnamon might benefit from the earlier suggestion to give her a bit of Miralax (1/8 tsp once a day), if her poop is still harder and smaller than Turbo's. A little jar of Gerber baby food meat with no garlic/onions/etc. (generally no more than about $1 per jar) could be the way to get her to take some Miralax - and once opened, those jars can be used for about 3 days when kept in the refrigerator. Just keep an eye out for other signs of illness in Cinnamon. Hopefully, you are right it is the heat. They are getting a bit older.
 
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fundamenta_novi

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I love this forum. Thanks so much for the support. It really helps me get my head together about how to proceed. I'll experiment with both of your suggestions and let you know how it goes.
 

molly92

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They are about 12 lbs, which seems to be translating to nearly 5 cans a day each? So 10 cans a day... I can't even fathom paying for anything close to that right now.
I guarantee they aren't going to need that much! Serving size recommendations are absurdly high to sell more cans. This can vary, but I'd guess a 12 pound cat needs about 2-3 of the 3 oz fancy feast cans a day on all wet food. I second counting calories and watching their weight to find out what a good amount is.

Some wet is better than none! I'm glad the water is helping. Just take care of the immediate issues now, and you can work on creating a healthier diet plan bit by bit as you have the energy and resources. It can be overwhelming if you try to do everything at once!

I never thought a big, juicy turd would be where I find my joy in life, but there you go.
Ha! When my cat was struggling with constipation years ago, I was expressing a similar sentiment to my mom, and she said, "Now you're a mother!"
 

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Plain canned pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling, is very good for constipation,my cats love it. On a side note I'm glad to hear that you are doing better with your recovery and depression, keep up the good work,your worth it!:yess:
 
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