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Constipated cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic House (I th
Age: 11-15 years
For the past 2 weeks or so, my cat has been having some constipation.

I think it initially started when I started giving him glucosamine for his joints for about 4 weeks, with no problems. Then the problems started. So I stopped that. I was also giving metamucil when He started having problems but stopped that as well.

I grabbed some Lactulose form work and gave him a cat's dose of Lactulose (667mg/mL x 1mL per lb of body weight = 9 mL) last week, the next day he had a big poop, with some of it being runny, not really formed.

Also I have been adding water to his food, so he is getting extra water, and has been peeing a lot more.

I have watched him strain and growl in his box a couple of times, to no avail.

Over the past couple fo days he has been having out 1 or 2 hard knobs of poop and thats it. I examines the 1 small knob this morning and it had a strand of grass in it.

This morning I believe he tried and he is growling wherever he goes, I think he's in pain.

He is 13 years old, over weight at about 18lbs. He lives mostly indoors, and goes outside sometimes.

my biggest fear/problem is that I do to have access to a vet as I live in a remote area.

Please help me!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:


Constipation in cats can be a very difficult problem. It is unlikely that this was caused by the glucosamine that you were giving. Quite often we don't find out the cause of constipation. However, sometimes in older cats it can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem such as a kidney problem. When the kidneys are not working at full capacity, it can cause a cat to get dehydrated and this can cause the body to extract fluid from the bowels which can result in constipation.

You are doing a lot of the right things, but if this were my case I would be advising you to bring Paws to see me right away. If lactulose, extra water and metamucil are not helping then he likely needs medical attention. For cases like this I often need to keep the cat in the hospital on intravenous fluids for a day or two to help with hydration and I would also give multiple enemas. These enemas are not something I would recommend trying at home because there is the potential to do harm if you are not sure of what you are doing.

I would probably also be testing his kidney enzymes to make sure there isn't a problem there.

If there is any way at all that you can get him to a vet I would recommend it. The longer he goes without defecating the harder this will be to fix.

In the meantime, you can possibly increase the amount of lactulose he is getting. However, I cannot legally give dosages over the internet.

My other concern is that sometimes when people think there is a stool problem there is actually a urine problem. If it is at all possible that the straining is him trying to urinate then this is a medical emergency as he could have a urinary tract blockage.

I'm so sorry. I wish I could give you more advice but this does not sound like something I would want to treat away from the hospital. I do hope things improve soon.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

First of all, Thank you so much Dr. Marie!

Secondly, I found a long hard stool today a few hours after I initially messaged you. His belly is no longer bloated tonight. But my fears are not alleviated yet.

I also watched him urinate today. He didn't appear to be straining and had a very big void. I assume its from the extra water I'm giving him.

I did some research and it appears that Metamucil can make things better or worse. So I decided to stop giving it to him altogether.
He has been eating wet, canned food for months now. I stopped feeding him dry food because I understand that canned is better.
Constipation was never an issue until about 4 weeks after giving the glucosamine. A small percentage of people can get constipation from this product, so I guess it can apply to cats. But with regards to the glucosamine, is there anything I can give to help his joints? He is often hesitant to jump around unless absolutely necessary.

My worry about giving lactulose is that I don't want to make his sugars go up like crazy or anything. Is this something I should be concerned about? I understand you can't give dosages online, but I should be able to find these with some amount of research. I also assume there is no actual difference in Lactulose for humans and cats.

I am a Registered Nurse, people are my specialty, not so much cats. I have considered enemas, but I'm sure this wouldn't be easy to do on a cat. I know how to perform them but again, it would be different for a cat. Is there any recommendation, regarding enemas, you can give me?
I am hoping to be able to see a Vet soon. There is one coming to my area for a week or 2 in June or July I believe. I just hate to have to wait this long.

My worst fears are Diabetes or Renal problems.

Again, Thanks a million Dr. Marie, you provide a great service here, and don't ever let anyone tell you this isn't any help!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome Ryan...just wish I could offer more to you. I hate to see a cat who is constipated.

I'm glad to hear that there was a stool today.

If Paws is not currently diabetic, then lactulose won't cause him to become diabetic. However, I do have some concern that diabetes could be present because even if you are giving him extra water, you shouldn't be able to see a noticeable difference in the amount of urine he is producing. With that being said, lactulose is unlikely to cause significant problems even if diabetes is present. Lactulose for humans is the same product that cats can use, yes.

I really really would not recommend giving him an enema at home. If a cat is constipated they can have a fragile colon and if he is dehydrated and has very hard stool an enema could potentially cause the colon to rupture which would be horrible.

We are really limited in what we can give cats for arthritis. The only over the counter product that I like is Cosequin which is a form of glucosamine. I like Metacam for cats but this is a prescription medication.

In thinking more, I do think that when you are able to see a vet you should have Paws tested for diabetes. Cats with diabetes can get a weakness in their hind limbs. It may be that what you are thinking is arthritis is actually due to diabetes. Hopefully not though.

Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie.
Firstly, I have to offer sincere apologies for not responding to your last message. I kept pushing it off and then it slipped my mind.

Secondly, Paws seems to be doing a lot better however there still are occasional bouts of constipation, the poor guy just walks around growling and hissing and eventually gets it out somewhere, and more often than not, outside of his litter box. I haven't noticed any changes in his urine since though.

And finally, a locum Vet is coming into town tomorrow, and I have an appointment to get him checked. I am going to ask about Diabetes, diet, arthritis, constipation, & vaccinations. Paws also has some difficulty cleaning the area on his back above his tail and he gets some dandruff there. I am going to see what he says about that. The last thing I can think of inquiring about is that he has what appears to be "skin tags" near his throat and on his chin.

I just want to thank you for taking the time to listen and help Paws and I. Is there anything you would recommend me asking the Vet? He hasn't seen a Vet since he was neutered!

Again, thanks!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Glad to hear that Paws is feeling better. I think the best thing you can do is have the vet do a good exam and if possible a blood profile as well.

Hope all goes well.

Dr. Marie

Customer reply:

Hi again, Dr. Marie.

Just wanted to update you on Paws. He seen a Vet in early July, Dr. John Saunders. Paws was given a good report, his urine was checked for glucose and free of it. his blood could not be checked, because he didn't have a glucometer at the time. As it was a mobile clinic, he also could not take blood samples.

He made several diet recommendations, 1 small can food/day, salmon oil and pumpkin added to his food (both of which he hates!) As well, he told me I should give hime Lactulose, 9-12mL to effect for constipation.

Also he sold me a 15 mL bottle of Metacam, and recommended I give him .7 mL a day (I think. It was on the syringe to draw up to the #7. And the does was for 7kg, which is what he weighed at the time).

I've read so many bad things about Metacam. But for the 2 weeks I gave it to Paws, he was jumping a bit and more playful, and seemed to enjoy life more. Dr. Saunders didn't give me a prescription however, so I wasn't able to get a refill. Now Paws is back to having some pain.

I want to ask your opinion about Metacam.

Also, I weighed Paws this week and he was about 15.4 lbs, and he was over 18lbs before the vet visit. I think that weight loss is too much. He has also vomited up his food a few times lately, won't eat certain things, and is STILL constipated every now and then. I have not noticed any worms coming from his anus, or any white spots, nor in his feces. However, I've not throughouly looked either, and he sometimes defecates outdoors.

He is outdoors quite a bit, and kills quite a bit of field mice. I'm wondering if he has worms. I understand that there are different OTC treatments for feline worms, and I would like to ask you opinion on what maybe some safe options, then I can arrive at my own decision.

Thanks again, so much, for you patience and help with everything.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi there. Ideally it's best to ask a new question for this as it has been some time since your original question, but for this time I will answer your question here.

Metacam is a great medication. I have written an article here on my thoughts on Metacam.

A weight loss of 3 lbs is significant though. It is very, very unlikely that this is because of worms. When an older cat loses weight there is usually a health issue. It really sounds like Paws needs to have some blood tests done. I understand that this is difficult for you as you live in a remote area but there really isn't much that I can recommend at this point without knowing why he is losing weight.

Here is an article I wrote on some reasons why an older cat would lose weight.

Hopefully he is able to get some blood tests done at some point.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

Thanks, Dr. Marie, and I apologize about not asking a new question. If there's anything else I will.
I just wanted to inform you that I am making the drive tomorrow to get him seen. He has continued to vomit this morning, pretty lethargic as well. He hasn't eaten much today either. I just fed him a small amount, which is all he would take. Waiting to see if he will vomit again.
Anyway, thanks again.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.