Defining Constipation in Cats
Constipation is the infrequent, incomplete or difficult passage of feces from the colon, also called the large intestine or large bowel. The colon is the terminal end of the digestive tract. It starts with the cecum, which is a dilated pouch at the end of the small intestine, and includes the rectum, which adjoins the anal canal. The colon is the main area where digestive waste products are concentrated and stored. Water normally is reclaimed from those waste products, forming the final fecal end product. Most cats defecate once or twice daily. If a cat only defecates every two to three days, digestive waste material remains in its colon, becoming increasingly hard and dry. Constipated cats strain to pass feces, with little if any fecal output. This is called “tenesmus”. Cats with colitis, urethral blockages or feline lower urinary tract disease can also show signs of straining; these conditions should be ruled out before treatment for constipation begins.