When it comes to colon health, cat digestive systems are quite similar to those of humans. Just as with humans, cats can suffer from a number of digestive disorders. In fact, constipation is relatively common in felines. Therefore, as a pet owner, it is important for you to understand how to recognize digestive problems as well as how to help your cat maintain a healthy colon.
Concerning colon health, cat constipation is relatively easy to recognize. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to help your cat recover from feline constipation.
Just as with human colon health, cat colon health problems have a great deal to do with the age of the cat. As in humans, older cats are more susceptible to constipation. Those that are eight-years-old and above are more likely to become constipated. Nonetheless, it is possible for a cat of any age to become constipated.
A cat with bowels that are functioning efficiently will usually have one or two bowel movements every day. Of course, just as with humans, every cat is different. Signs of feline constipation include:
- No bowel movements, or very infrequent bowel movements
- Straining during a bowel movement
- Painful bowel movements
- A sudden decrease in the amount of stool produced
When it comes to colon health, cat constipation is a sign that something is not working correctly within the digestive tract. And, if you fail to take action, your cat may become quite ill. Signs the constipation has advanced and is becoming serious include:
- Failure to keep itself groomed
- Lethargic behavior
- Loss of appetite
- Crouching and hunching up
- Passing a small amount of diarrhea, which is runny and blood-tinged
Some potential causes of cat constipation include:
- Ingesting foreign bodies, hair, and animal bones
- A dirty litter box
- Recent hospitalization
- Lack of exercise (let your cat out to run)
- Obstructions, such as improperly healed pelvic fractures or tumors
- Hair matted with dirt/mud
- Injuries from cat fights
- Obesity (don’t overfeed your pet please or share your meals)
- Parasites, usually obtained from dirt, animals, or unclean water
To maintain proper feline colon health, constipation needs to be treated as soon as possible. The first approach is to address the underlying cause of the problem. A cat that is dehydrated, for example, may receive intravenous or subcutaneous replacement fluids to help encourage a bowel movement.
If a change of the underlying cause is not enough to get things moving again, the veterinarian may administer an enema to your pet to help induce a bowel movement. If the cat is severely constipated, however, it may be necessary to place the cat under anesthesia and remove the feces manually. This can be a very time consuming process.
Feline obstipation is similar to constipation, but must be treated differently. Whereas constipation is characterized by difficulty in eliminating waste, obstipation occurs when the cat’s bowels are blocked and it is unable to pass any waste at all. The cause of obstipation and the signs and symptoms of the disorder are usually the same as with constipation.
A cat that suffers from chronic constipation or obstipation may ultimately develop Megacolon, which is a distended colon with poor movement. When this occurs, fecal matter remains in the colon and becomes continuously drier. As a result, the colon becomes filled with waste almost as hard as concrete.
Maintaining Colon Health Cat Style
Maintaining your cat’s colon health requires many of the same steps for maintaining the health of a human colon. Placing your cat on a high fiber diet, for example, will help prevent your cat from becoming constipated. Like humans, cats are unable to digest fiber. As the undigested fiber sits in your cat’s colon, it absorbs water and helps loosen the stool while also providing it with extra bulk.
Since cats tend to have more sensitive digestive systems than humans, however, it is important to implement a high fiber diet slowly. Changing your cat’s diet too abruptly can cause it to experience gas pain. Therefore, you should spend about five or seven days gradually modifying your cat’s diet.
Foods that can be added to your cat’s diet to increase its fiber intake include:
- Canned pumpkin
- Vegetable meal
- Whole grains
Your cat may not want to eat any of these foods alone. Therefore, you will need to mix them in with your cat’s canned cat food. It is also important to ensure your cat drinks plenty of water. This is particularly important when increasing fiber consumption since the fiber will absorb water within your cat’s digestive system.
By helping your pet maintain proper colon health, its digestive problems should not be of serious concern. However, if problems arise, contact your veterinarian right away to take care of the issue before it worsens.