Just like you and me, our cats can suffer from irregular bowel movements. There is a lot you can do to help with keeping your cat’s colon healthy, including a healthy diet of the best cat food for constipation.
In this article we will review the following five products, and see how they help prevent constipation in cats.
A Quick Look At Our Favorites
|Product||Rating||Why We Like It|
|1||Farmina Natural & Delicious||High Protein||Buy on Amazon|
|2||Purina Beyond Simply Grain-Free||Grain-Free Dry Food||Buy on Amazon|
|3||Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete||For Picky Eaters||Buy on Amazon|
|4||Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control||Prevents Hairballs||Buy on Amazon|
|5||Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Adult||Gluten-Free||Buy on Amazon|
|Moisture||Protein* (min.)||Fat* (min.)||Fiber* (max.)||Carbs* (approx.)||Ash* (approx.)||Calories (approx.)||Allergens|
|1||78%||59%||20%||5%||2%||14%||86 / 100g||eggs, seafood|
|2||12%||38%||14%||7%||39%||2%||341 / 100g||eggs, seafood|
|3||9%||37%||13%||9%||40%||1%||347 / 100g||corn|
|4||76.2%||38%||22%||10%||28%||2%||100 / 100g||corn, eggs, soy|
|5||9%||35%||16%||7%||42%||0%||373 / 100g||eggs|
|* on a dry matter basis|
|What We Like||What We Don't Like|
|1|| Farmina Natural & Delicious|
|2|| Purina Beyond Simply Grain-Free|
Grain-Free Dry Food
|3|| Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete|
For Picky Eaters
|4|| Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control|
|5|| Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Adult|
Our Choices For Best Cat Food For Constipation
The best cat food for constipation is a food that limits the chance of hairballs forming in the stomach or intestines. It should also work to support the digestive health of less active, indoor cats by providing enough fiber and quality protein. We have selected the top 5 best cat foods, wet and dry, that meet the requirements for constipated cats.
A WORD OF CAUTION: All of the cat foods on this list contain fish, either as their main protein or in the form of fish oil. Please do not feed any of these foods to your cat if you know that she is allergic to fish or seafood of any kind.
ANOTHER WORD OF CAUTION: In general, you should be careful when introducing your cat to a new food. The change in nutritional composition can cause digestive upset or allergic reactions, so it is best to take it slowly. Give her only a bit of the food at first, combined with her old food, and monitor how well your cat does on it. If you see any signs of an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, rashes, elevated heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting) switch back to her old food and contact your vet immediately.
Farmina Natural & Delicious Venison And Pumpkin Wet Cat Food is a food that cat owners dream of. It contains venison, which is a quality source of protein with not too much fat. There are no filler ingredients like grains or soy and no by-products whatsoever. This cat food is all natural and perfect for any adult cat.
What makes Farmina Natural & Delicious Venison And Pumpkin Wet Cat Food especially good for constipated cats, is the addition of pumpkin. Pumpkin is a natural probiotic and a source of fiber that is very healthy for your cat. It keeps the carb count low and your cat’s colon functioning properly.
This cat food also has a high amount of ash. Ash refers to the inorganic minerals that are left behind when all the organic material is cooked or burned off. These minerals include, among others, calcium and potassium which are essential for a healthy digestive system.
The only thing to watch out for with Farmina Natural & Delicious Venison And Pumpkin Wet Cat Food is that it contains fish and eggs. If your cat is allergic to either of these, you obviously should not feed it to her.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Purina Beyond Simply Grain-Free Dry Indoor Cat Food is a great, high quality kibble for your constipated kitty. It contains a lot of moisture, considering it’s a dry food. It contains peas as the main source of fiber and gets its protein from salmon. Both contribute to high digestibility and a healthy colon.
Cat owners highly rate this dry food. Many report that their cat’s coat looks a lot healthier and feels softer when they are fed this food. A healthier coat results in fewer hairballs, which is just what your constipated cat needs.
Be careful if your cat has food allergies. Purina Beyond Simply Grain-Free Dry Indoor Cat Food contains both fish and eggs. Some guardians have reportedly seeing allergic reactions such as excessive itching and vomiting after switching their cats to this food. Always read the label before you give a new food! And transition your cat to the food in steps.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Dry Cat Food is a high fiber cat food that gets two paws up, even from the pickiest of eaters. Cats with sensitive stomachs also respond to it very well. It contains highly digestible ingredients like salmon and pumpkin that help your cat stay regular. Many cat owners see a positive change in their cat’s litter box habits after switching to this food, most notably a lack of smell!
Even though Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Dry Cat Food is advertised as a cat food for all stages of life, I do not recommend this food for older cats (7+). A small percentage customers have reported their cats developing urinary tract issues or pancreatitis after being on this food for a few months. While they are relatively easy to recover from for a younger cat, these conditions are extremely debilitating for senior cats. If you are looking for a quality food for your aging kitty, check out our guide on the best cat food for older cats.
In regards to allergens, this food also contains fish, and corn. Corn allergies are not as common in cats as you might expect, or as some cat owners may have you believe. Still, it does occur, so be on the lookout for signs of an allergic reaction.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control Wet Cat Food is a great alternative for older cats who suffer from constipation. It is high in fiber and minerals for a healthy digestive tract. Its special formulation is great both for treating and preventing urinary tract issues, as well as hairballs. The slightly increased fat content in this food will help your sickly or elderly cat to maintain her weight.
On top of that, cats seem to really enjoy the taste and soft paté texture of this food. It is easy to eat, even if your cat has dental issues, and gives her a lot of the moisture she needs. Cat owners prefer this cat food over other urinary health cat foods. It is less expensive and seems to a better job at maintaining a healthy coat, which is essential to preventing feline constipation.
Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control Wet Cat Food does contain a few allergens that you need to be aware of. Besides the aforementioned fish, it also contains eggs, corn and soy. These last two ingredients really raise the total amount of carbohydrates. If your cat is overweight, consult with your vet before purchasing this food.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Adult Dry Cat Food is a completely gluten-free dry food, without soy, wheat or corn. It gets its protein from 100% real chicken, which is a healthy, high quality protein for cats.
This food does have a slightly higher calorie count than most dry cat foods, so it might not be the best choice for overweight or free-feeding kitties. However, if your cat is on a feeding schedule, she will actually need to eat less of the food to feel full. Don’t mistake this is a sign of disapproval! Most cats seem to really enjoy Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Adult Dry Cat Food.
Next to fish, which is ever-present in this category, this product contains eggs. As always, beware of allergic reactions, whether your cat has shown these before or not.
|What We Like|
|What We Don't Like|
Constipation in any degree can bring some real discomfort to your cat. Luckily, you can do your part in maintaining her digestive health with a diet that reduces the chance of hairballs developing and that supports proper colon functions. We have reviewed what we consider to be the top 5 best cat foods for constipation and have picked Farmina Natural & Delicious Venison And Pumpkin Wet Cat Food as the winner. With its high protein content from quality sources, pumpkin and minerals it has everything your kitty needs to keep from backing up.
Is My Cat Constipated?
Healthy cats with a consistent feeding schedule are fairly regular in terms of their bowel movements. They poop at least once every 24 hours. Their feces has a dark brown color, doesn’t smell too much, and is just soft enough for the litter to stick to it. If you notice a change in your cat’s litter box behavior, it could mean that she is constipated.
Some constipation can occur every now and then, even in healthy cats. But when it happens more frequently, or over longer periods of time, it could have devastating effects. The longer feces stays in the bowel, the harder it becomes to pass. Prolonged constipation can lead to obstipation, which means your cat has severe problems passing any poop at all. Recurring bouts of constipation can cause your kitty’s colon to expand to a point where passing feces becomes next to impossible. This condition is called megacolon.
Signs Of Constipation In Cats
Do you think your cat might be constipated? These are the signs to look for:
- Fewer, or smaller, bowel movements: This is usually the first sign of trouble. If your cat has been eating the same amount of food as always, but you’re not seeing a poop in the litter box when you expect it, start monitoring her more closely.
- Straining while pooping: Constipated cats tend to strain when they poop. Often you will hear them grunt a little when they are on the litter box.
- Crying or whimpering while pooping: If the grunting turns into crying or whimpering, this means your cat is in real pain. In this case you should not waste any time and take her to the vet immediately.
- Hard and dry feces: When feces is passed more slowly due to constipation, it dries out while still inside the colon. This means it comes out all dry and hard, which makes it extra difficult to pass.
- Tense abdomen: Constipation leads to the backing up of more food and feces in the colon. This will cause your cat’s abdomen to feel tense. Be careful when checking her tummy. She might be in pain and react impulsively to you touching her sore belly.
- Decreased appetite: As the constipation endures, your kitty is likely to lose some of her appetite. She will probably still show interest in food, but won’t be able to finish her normal portion because she is so backed up. I recommend that you start tracking how much your cat eats every day as soon as you suspect that she is constipated.
- Depression: When left untreated, your cat will start to feel increasingly worse from her constipation. This could even lead to depression. A depressed cat sleeps a lot more, doesn’t want to play and often doesn’t show any interest in food. If you see signs of depression in your cat, don’t be tempted to think that she will just get over it. More often than not it is an indication that something is seriously wrong. And a cat that refuses to eat won’t last more than 2 to 3 days, so haste is advised.
What Causes Constipation In Cats?
A lot of things can cause or contribute to feline constipation. Lifestyle, environment and internal health all play a part in a cat’s digestive well-being. It is important to narrow down the possible source of your kitty’s constipation, so that you can avoid it in the future.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. Cats are known to need a little encouragement when it comes to taking in their fluids. If your cat doesn’t drink enough and doesn’t get enough moisture from her food, her feces can dry out too quickly. This is even more of a problem when your cat already suffers from chronic kidney disease.
Not Enough Or Too Much Fiber
What you feed your cat is just as important as how much you feed her. If your cat’s food contains too little fiber, she won’t be able to form a nice poop. If it contains too much fiber, the feces will be too hard for her to pass.
Not Enough Exercise
Cats need exercise to keep their colon moving. If your kitty likes to sleep all day and doesn’t get enough playtime, she’s at a real risk for getting constipated. Break out the feather toys and treats and start training that cat! Keeping her active will also help prevent obesity and arthritis.
Litter Box Avoidance
There are many things that may cause your cat to avoid using the litter box. She might think it’s too dirty. Another cat might be claiming its territory and chase her away. Perhaps she has been declawed and can’t stand feeling the litter under her paws. Or maybe she has arthritis and can’t step into the box without her joints aching. While some cats may choose to do their business outside the litter box, others may start holding in their feces.
Most medications have side effects and constipation can definitely be one of them. If your cat is on medication and you see signs of constipation, consult with your vet. Perhaps she can be switched to a different medicine to alleviate the problems.
A more serious and possibly life-threatening cause of constipation and obstipation is a bowel obstruction. This means your cat’s colon is partially or completely blocked by something other than food or feces. Common colon blockers are hairballs, foreign objects and tumors. In some cases your cat can be helped to pass the obstruction just like a normal bowel movement. More serious obstructions may have to be removed surgically.
Different metabolic issues can contribute to constipation in cats. Hypothyroidism, the opposite of hyperthyroidism, is a condition where too little thyroid hormone is produced. Thyroid hormone is needed to ensure a proper movement of the bowel. The same goes for potassium and calcium. If your cat’s digestive system is low on either of these minerals, the colon will have difficulty contracting and moving feces along the digestive tract.
Damage to the nerve endings in the intestines can interfere with the actual movement of the bowel. This is usually caused by trauma to the pelvic region from a traffic accident, a fall or a tail-pull injury. If the bowel doesn’t move properly, feces will be passed too slowly or not at all.
How Can I Help My Constipated Cat?
If your cat is in clear discomfort or pain, or she hasn’t had a bowel movement for 48 hours or more, you should take her to the vet as soon as possible. If you are not at this point yet, or you want to help prevent future constipation in your cat, there are a few remedies you can try.
If your cat is constipated but still eating and not in any obvious pain, you can try giving her a laxative for cats. These are usually sold as anti-hairball solutions and come in the form of pills or a paste. I personally prefer the paste, because I can just smear it on my cat’s paws or upper lip and she will lick it off. You can also use small, weekly doses of anti-hairball paste as a preventative measure.
Add More Litter Boxes
As said, your cat’s constipation may be caused by issues surrounding the litter box. If you suspect that this is the case, it is a good idea to add a few extra litter boxes. Try boxes of different types and sizes with a variety of litters. Place them in easily accessible areas, where your kitty has room to flee from overly territorial siblings. As you learn more about your kitty’s bathroom preferences, you can start taking out the boxes she doesn’t use.
Play With Your Cat
Give your cat some much needed exercise by playing with her. For extra fun, you can create an agility course of boxes. Use a feather toy or laser pointer to lead her through. Don’t forget to give her a treat for all that hard work! Your cat will start to associate being active (and you!) with good things and probably play more by herself too.
Get A Drinking Fountain
Does your cat love to play in the sink and drink straight from the tap? That’s because cats prefer fresh, flowing water over drinking from a bowl. A pet drinking fountain may be just what she needs to keep herself hydrated. The extra moisture will keep her bowels moving smoothly and help prevent kidney disease.
Brush Out Her Coat
If your cat coughs up hairballs from time to time, these might be contributing to her constipation. Brush her out a few times a week to remove loose hairs from her furry coat. This way she won’t swallow as many when she cleans herself and runs less of a risk of obstructing her bowel.
Change Her Diet
Your cat might not be getting the nutrients she needs for a healthy bowel movement. Check out our complete guide on feline nutrition to find out if your cat food meets the necessary standards. If it doesn’t, this might be what is causing your cat’s irregularity. If you are already feeding her a healthy cat diet, then try a more specialised food like the ones we recommend below.