I believe that many owners find that kittens do not defecate for two or three days, and their stomachs look bulging, and owners will be worried. Is the hairy child constipated? So, why do cats have constipation, and what to do if they become constipated?
First of all, we need to know that prey is the cat’s original food, so what is the difference between these prey and the cat food, canned food, or raw meat that we feed the cat now?
One of the biggest differences is the hair. Although the hair has no nutritional value, cats will also eat the hair of their prey together. It has two main functions: First, when the cat chews the prey, its hair will have a brushing effect on the cat’s teeth, help remove tartar and prevent Dental calculus; second, hair can increase the weight of feces, so hair plays an important role, and it will not cause irritation to cats.
But no matter what we feed, it is impossible for us to add hair to cat food. Therefore, some people add plants to food to nourish hair. Grains, potatoes, beans and beetroot in commercial food are not only a source of calories for cats, but also have the effect of increasing the amount of manure. This is the same as adding vegetables and fiber supplements to homemade cat food. However, the hair is protein, and the plants that can increase the amount of feces are fiber and starch. Fiber and starch are fermented by different bacteria in the digestive system, and the gas they produced may also affect the cat.
In fact, it is normal for animals that are born to live in semi-arid areas to have a small amount of stool. Cats grow in the dry climates of Africa and West Asia and have excellent water storage capacity. They don’t sweat, they rarely pant, their urine is extremely concentrated, and their high water storage efficiency allows cats to survive on the water of their prey alone. The feces of naturally hunted cats are naturally hard, granular, dry, gray-yellow or yellow, and fragile, mainly because of the hair from themselves and their prey.
Symptoms of constipation: infrequent bowel movements, three times a week or less, incomplete defecation, difficulty in defecation, slow digestion, hard and dry stools, and more than a quarter of the time to defecate.
If cats really have constipation, they will show anxiety, such as: no appetite, vomiting, frequent use of cat litter, and want to have a bowel movement but can’t come out.
Take the cat to a doctor as soon as possible in the above situation. The veterinarian will diagnose the cause and find the appropriate solution. Because constipation is not all caused by food, the veterinarian will usually enema, prescribe medication and laxatives to solve the acute symptoms.
Preventive Measures and Some Misunderstandings
There are many ways to prevent constipation, some may be useful; some may only be useful in the short term; some may not be useful at all. Therefore, you may need to change your pattern to help your cat defecate smoothly every day. If the proportion of indigestible ingredients in the food is high, the relative amount and frequency of stool will also increase. A large amount of stool means that the food that is eaten is not completely absorbed, and only a small amount is used by the body.
If you want to increase stool volume, you must increase the indigestible ingredients in your food. For example, the stools of cats that eat commercial dry food are mostly unnatural, with a soft and unpleasant structure, and frequent stools, because the dry food contains a high proportion of indigestible and low nutritional value ingredients.
It is not feasible to add water to food to hope that the stool will be smooth. The physiological structure of cats will try to absorb the water in the stool before expelling it.
Adding water to urinate will increase, but the relative amount of food eaten will decrease. Because the same amount of food now contains more water, reducing the amount of food will result in fewer stools, and the constipation situation will be more serious.
Increase the amount of food
According to my observations, kittens seem to have very little constipation. Compared with big cats, kittens need to eat more food for calories because of their large body. Active cats will also eat more to meet their caloric needs, resulting in more bowel movements and larger portions. In short, the amount of food determines the amount of stool. Increasing the amount of food allows stool to pass out of the body before it becomes too dry in the colon, because constipation is caused by the stool staying in the colon for too long.
Cats that do not eat too much are prone to constipation. It is important to improve the palatability of food. Make sure that your cat eats a healthy portion of each meal.
If prey hair is the ideal choice for increasing stool volume, then the second-best choice is the cat’s own hair. Cats will eat their own fur when licking their fur. Don’t stop the cat from licking fur. Excessive grooming and bathing will reduce the cat’s laxative effect from entering the cat’s body, and healthy cats have almost no hair bulbs. If you often have hairballs, want to eat grass, or spit out food, something may be wrong.
Constipation is also related to feeding raw meat and bone. There are two aspects of feeding bones that need to be discussed. The calcium in bones is calcium phosphate, and eating too much bone will cause constipation.
But bones are not all composed of calcium phosphate and minerals. Bone mainly consists of dense organic protein (protein matrix), and the minerals stored in them are released to bring bone hardness, and it is also where minerals in the body stays. The function of this kind of organic protein is different from that of hair. It cannot be digested, which causes an increase in stool volume. And the undigested bones in the stool will look like crushing lime.
Calcium can cause constipation, and magnesium may solve constipation.
Magnesium has many functions in the body, including slowing down stomach acid and helping stools pass through the intestines. Magnesium is an essential mineral. There must be enough magnesium in food. But magnesium is related to urinary tract infection crystals, so the magnesium content in many cat foods is quite low. This causes some constipation because of insufficient magnesium content.
Higher doses of magnesium can be used as a laxative because magnesium has two mechanisms. As far as proper muscle function is concerned, magnesium is indispensable. It can help relax muscles, but it can also keep the intestines smooth. Magnesium can also increase colonic water, and make stool softer.
Raw liver and fat
Raw liver has a mild laxative effect. Increasing the fat content in homemade cat food can allow food to pass through the digestive tract faster to increase the frequency of bowel movements. You can also add light-tasting vegetable oils, such as canola oil or sunflower oil, to your food to replace animal fats.
The most popular solution to constipation by veterinarians and owners so far is to add a spoonful of pumpkin to the food. The fiber in pumpkin can promote intestinal peristalsis and have a certain laxative effect. The only problem with this method may be whether your cat can accept pumpkins.
Another way to add pumpkin to food is to add cream to make a vegetable puree. The method is to heat 450 grams (2 cups) of pumpkin and add 220 grams (1 cup) of cream. The cream will melt when it meets the hot pumpkin. After mixing, it becomes a creamy vegetable puree. It’s best to heat it before serving it to the cat. The cream increases the fat content in the food, allows the food to pass through the digestive tract faster, and also improves the palatability of the food. Another better way is to use steamed and ground sweet potatoes to replace pumpkins. If your cat has diabetes or pancreatitis, don’t eat the creamed recipes written in this paragraph.
If you want to add vegetables to help defecation, my personal preference is to choose the cooked pumpkin or sweet potatoes mentioned above. However, some cats seem to like canned peas and chickpeas, and it may be helpful for these cats to grind these beans and add them to food.
I heard that some cat owners like to feed their cats baby food in glass jars with pureed vegetables. This should be noted that there must be no onions or garlic in the baby vegetable puree.
Powdered sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds can increase the amount of feces. Sunflower seeds have a mild taste, and are indigestible for cats. That is, after passing through the cat’s digestive tract, the shape of sunflower seeds does not change at all. You can grind sunflower seeds into powder before adding them to food.
Flaxseed is a kind of fiber supplement that humans love to use. It has a light taste and a nutty taste. It is quite suitable for feeding cats to increase the amount of feces. But be careful when using raw flaxseeds, all raw flaxseeds contain cyanogenic glycosides (or cyanogenic glycosides). When it encounters water, it releases toxic hydrogen cyanide. The longer the flaxseed stays in water or raw meat, the more concentrated the toxicity.
Boil the flaxseed in boiling water to remove the toxicity. The best way to use it is to grind the flaxseed into a powder or use a defatted flaxseed fiber supplement. Before adding the flaxseed to cat food, be sure to boil the flaxseed in boiling water. Gel-like, can improve the taste of food, and can improve the moisture of feces.
Psyllium is a good way for humans to prevent constipation, and it is also used by veterinarians and cat owners to treat constipation in cats. However, the effect may only be short-term, but it seems that if psyllium is added to the food for a long time, the effect will decrease over time. So the best way is to use it as a short-term treatment.
Bran is a fiber source derived from wheat, oats or rice. The taste of wheat bran and rice bran is not very good, and the starch content of oat bran is very high. I personally do not feed any bran to the cat because I am worried that the cat will have nausea, vomiting, flatulence or diarrhea.
Can plant fiber treat constipation?
Do cats really need plant fiber? In fact, for carnivorous mammals, plant fiber is not that important. In cats’ natural prey, they do not take in plant fibers, and the cat’s digestive system cannot digest these plant fibers well. Plant fiber plays an important role in the food of omnivores and is a necessity for herbivores. Cats are absolute carnivores, so there is no natural demand for plant fiber.
Adding plant fiber or starch to cat food means creating a habitat for bacteria. In this habitat, bacteria may not proliferate, and may not become part of the natural intestinal flora, but when these bacteria proliferate and start to ferment, the gas produced will not only make the cat very uncomfortable but be toxic and cause inflammation of the intestines which will cause soft stools or diarrhea.
Be careful when adding fiber and starch to cat food. Observe whether the cat has nausea, whether there is excess gas in the body, or whether the lower gastrointestinal tract is irritated and has soft stools or diarrhea. If there is a high proportion of plant fiber in cat food, it will interfere with the digestion of nutrients, and even completely replace nutrients. If the cause of some constipation has nothing to do with the food, nor is it because of the small amount of stool, then adding fiber to the food for constipation in this case has no effect.
Also, cats with nausea should not eat fiber, although they may be constipated. However, additional vegetable fiber supplements may increase their nausea frequency. Cats with nausea problems should eat small and frequent meals a day, and eat foods that are extremely easy to digest. If these cats have constipation, it may be simply because they eat too little food. Regularly eat a small amount of food a day. Feeding well-digested food should help the symptoms of nausea. In addition, you need the help of a veterinarian to find out the cause of nausea.