Constipation is a common condition that affects cats just as it affects humans. Constipated cats suffer from the accumulation of feces in the bowel that makes it difficult to defecate. Because the bowel is designed to absorb water, feces in the colon can sometimes become dry and hard making it painful and difficult for your cat to have a bowel movement. When your cat is constipated, she will also strain to defecate and may even pass feces with a diarrhea-like consistency.
In many cases, the causes of constipation relate to poor nutrition and exercise. Nevertheless, there are some causes of constipation that signify a more serious problem. Other than hairballs, a cat may have an obstruction of the bowel perhaps due to tumors or the ingestion of foreign bodies. Pelvic injuries due to accidents can lead to constipation as can damage to the nerves of the bowel. While constipation is most commonly seen in middle-aged or older cats, it is not impossible for younger cats to suffer from the condition. If you recognize that your cat is suffering from constipation, most obviously because she is straining to pass feces, you should visit your veterinarian immediately.
Your vet will assess your cat and try to determine the cause of the constipation. The diagnostic process is designed to rule out constipation due to injury and to prevent further problems that may also be associated with a possible injury. In very severe cases, cat constipation may need to be treated with surgery; but in most cases, cat constipation is treated with oral lubricants, regular grooming, improved diet, and exercise. Your veterinarian will help you decide the best course of treatment and will also provide you with important information on how to prevent constipation in the future.