Severe Constipation


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Mar 29, 2020
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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.


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Jan 9, 2018
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Colorado USA
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


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Dec 1, 2005
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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.


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Jan 8, 2016
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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.