Feline Constipation
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Lorraine Cagno
Posted on: May 27, 2007

I have a cat about 12 years old, who has had constipation for about 6 years now. History: On lactulose for 1 1/2 didn’t work, high fiber, low fiber, homemade diet of raw ground turkey with vegetables and vitamins added, didn’t work. Cooked baby food with vegetables didn’t work, I give him subQ fluids under the skin helps hydration (2x weekly). B12 (liquid form), olive oil and wheat grass helped temporarily and then stopped working. He’s had X-ray, ultra sounds, bloodwork etc. nothing abnormal, some hepatic issues but nothing serious. He used to weigh 28lbs. and the Vet. said he needs to loose weight so we took him off the dry food and fed moist food only and he lost the weight but developed some fat in his liver. He enjoys eating and is down to 17lbs. Still a big boy, but much better. Anyhow, I went to a surgeon and they recommended surgery. I study holistic medicine and I still believe there is hope for him with herbs and a good homemade diet. I recently had his teeth cleaned and they gave him antibiodics and that caused him to move his bowels. In order for him to go I have to give him 1/2 a pet enema. Do you recommend any herbs and diet for this poor cat?

To start, I have a few questions: what exactly were his "hepatic issues" and why did the surgeon recommend surgery? What do the veterinarians feel is going on that would require surgery? How often is he having a bowel movement? What do they look like? Any evidence of blood, mucous, undigested food? Does he have any gas and bloating? Does he strain to have a bowel movement? Are there other animals or people in the house that might be causing him stress? Any issues with his anal glands?

Given there may be more going on than what you have mentioned above, I will make a few suggestions, but they are in general terms only. As far as diet goes, I have seen animals that are on raw food diets that are made up of meat and vegetables only and I have seen animals on raw food diets that are made up of meat, vegetables and some cooked grains (oats, barley flakes, etc.). By and large, those who ate some grain were in much better shape and had more consistent bowel movements. If one thinks of a homemade diet in the same light as an animal that might have been killed by your cat, there are several necessary components: muscle meat, bone (or bone substitute), greens (usually found in the stomach of the prey), organ meat and brain (high in fat) and roughage (fur, cartilage, etc). Homemade diets without any fibre are missing the important component of roughage and are thus more difficult to expel via bowel movements. I would suggest that you look at the work of Richard Pitcairn, "Natural Health for Dogs and Cats", "The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat" by Juliette de Bairacli Levy and "The Barf Diet" by Ian Billinghurst for further information and recipes.

Assuming that there are no ongoing problems (as per my questions above) then it is possible that your cat’s digestive system is sluggish and muscle tone is low. The above mentioned diet change may help with that along with herbs such as Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus), Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) and a tiny bit of Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana). Please be careful any time you are using herbs that have a laxative action as too much can be, well, too much, not only in changing the course from constipation to diarrhoea but in being too strong for the system, thus causing intestinal cramping. Start with small amounts only.

In addition, it may be useful to add a bit of an acidophillus supplement to your cat’s food, one quarter human dose, twice a day. And don’t forget exercise! See if you can get your cat to play, even if for a bit a couple of times a day. The intestine is like any other part of the body and will respond to muscle movement.

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