Are you a cat lover who gives your feline with enough time to notice his or her daily patterns? Do you have a fair idea of your cat’s behavior patterns from sleeping to feeding and pooping? Can you tell when something is amiss in any of the patterns? Do you wonder about normal and abnormal cat behavior?
If so, one of the questions that you have asked yourself is how long can a cat go without pooping? This is an important question because it addresses one of the crucial behaviors of you cat that largely affects the cat’s health.
Knowing how long your cat can go before having bowel movements allows you to be able to identify when something is wrong early enough. It could be an issue with its feeding habits, digestive system or a medical condition that needs immediate attention.
This article aims to provide information involving issues around the bowel movements of a cat and the various conditions affecting it.
How Frequent Should a Cat Poo?
There is no exact amount of times a day a cat should poo. It is important to first understand the feeding and digestive structure of cats is adapted differently from that of larger cats and mammals like say human beings.
They are built to be eating small amounts of foods over the 24 hours and hence have would need more frequent bowel movements. Factors such as age, the type of food, medication, and stress can easily change how long a cat goes without pooping.
In a good enabling environment, a cat should have one or two bowel movements in a day. Due to the already mentioned factors, some cats may have more or less bowel movements in a day.
Should your cat go more than two days without pooping you may have a case of constipation. When this is left unchecked or detected late, it can easily develop into obstipation or megacolon.
Constipation, Megacolon, and Obstipation
Constipation refers to a situation where the cat cannot poo, in more clinical terms cannot make complete bowel movements or does so with great difficulty. You can notice this by a litter that is empty for long periods, the difficulty your cat has when it wants to poop and the type of poop left behind.
Cats have a typical normal poop which indicates when all is well. It is brown in color and well formed into a sausage-like shape. It has some odor but nothing nasty or extremely striking. It is smooth but not mushy.
Stools that comes off as watery, fluffy or soft well-defined pieces border towards a diet with too many fluids and less fiber. The more watery the poop the more likely it is that your cat is experiencing diarrhea. Lumpy, cracked or separate hard lumps point towards constipation.
Obstipation is a severe kind of constipation and it refers to a condition where the colon is completely obstructed by fecal matter. Megacolon is an acute scenario which sees the colon’s muscle and nerves completely damaged resulting in an inability to defecate.
Constipation can happen to a cat of any age though it is more prominent in cats aged 8 or more years. Obese and sedentary cats are also at a higher risk of experiencing constipation.
Causes of constipation in cats include the following:
Dehydration- this is one of the common factors for most constipation cases in cats. Since water is absorbed in the colon, when the cat has not had enough water, the body will try to conserve it by removing any extra water in the stool.
Dietary causes- A diet low in fiber will increase chances for constipation because it affects how food is digested and absorbed in the body and the remains excreted.
Blockage or obstruction of the colon- this refers to the physical blocking of the colon by the material the cat takes in and fails to pass out as well as by conditions such as tumors and polyps. The most commonly ingested materials include hairballs and bones.
Diseases and infections on the digestive tract- these cover a whole spectrum of conditions from cancers and infections as well as anal sac problems. These result in inflammation which is painful especially during bowel movements and also constricting of the passageway of the fecal matter.
Accidents and injuries to the pelvic and even spine may affect the ability of the cat to conduct bowel movement and also narrow down the colon canal.
At other times the cause of constipation or any of its severe varieties is not known and this is called idiopathic constipation. Signs and symptoms and diagnosis of constipation in cats. There are many symptoms a cat will exhibit that can point to constipation. These include the ones listed below:
Difficulty in passing fecal matter and mostly there is nothing in the litter or just hard, small pieces.
- Pain in the abdomen.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Depression which further worsens the condition.
- Hunched over postures that indicate pain and discomfort.
- Occasional vomiting.
- Swelling around the anus.
If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms it is important to get a veterinary opinion. The symptoms may be pointing to a serious condition or unrelated disease. A thorough diagnosis helps you to identify possible causes and the severity of the situation.
A diagnosis usually involves going through the cat’s history, a physical examination, X-rays and ultrasound imaging and where necessary a colonoscopy.
Treatment is largely based on the severity and cause of constipation. Hydration is the first step and also a consistent feature for constipation management. In severe cases, intravenous hydration may be employed.
Enemas are also used to induce and assist in bowel movement. In cases of acute constipation, the cat will have to be anesthetized for its comfort during the fecal matter removal. Extreme cases may necessitate surgery to remove part of the colon.
If it is a case of hairball swallowing or mild cases of difficulty in smooth bowel movements, lubricants like Petromalt, and Laxatone are used and they can be purchased for home use.
Seeing your cat going through the pain of constipation is a hurting experience especially when you have no idea of what to do. Make sure to check on your cat’s pooping frequency and ensure two days do not go by when the litter is still empty. Here are some final points to keep in mind for a healthy and normal pooping cat;
- Check the quality of poop of your cat
- Ensure your cat has a diverse fiber rich diet.
- Keep your cat dehydrated and use even use water fountains since cats prefer running water.
- To avoid hairball cases use lubricants like Petromalt and Laxatone.