Help Your Dehydrated, Constipated Cat

CatChannel and CAT FANCY veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, discusses how to hydrate cats and prevent cats' constipation.

Q: I have an 18-year-old male Siamese named Sydney who is on blood pressure medication. He has been constipated because, according to my vet, my cat doesn’t get enough water. The past few days my cat has eaten very little and I have been giving him water through a syringe in his mouth. My cat’s vet also prescribed cisapride and lactulose to help him defecate. She said an enema would help.

My wife is a nurse and knows how to do this. Now my cat has diarrhea, although this is starting to resolve. Our vet also prescribed fluids for us to inject just under the skin to help keep him hydrated. We started it this morning. The problem is he is very weak and can hardly walk. He hasn’t eaten very much since Friday. Would a pediatric drink be OK to give my cat? Sydney is my best friend and I don’t want to lose him.  

A: An 18 year-old cat that hasn’t eaten in several days and can hardly walk needs to be hospitalized promptly. Like most 18-year-old cats, your cat probably has some degree of kidney impairment, and the dehydration caused by the diarrhea and his not drinking can cause kidney disease to spiral out of control.  

Lactulose is a very effective stool softener. Cisapride is a drug that helps the colon contract. These drugs effectively manage constipation, but you should give them only after any impacted feces are removed. I have no doubt that your wife, being a nurse, is capable of giving your cat an enema. However, I think a fragile 18 year-old cat should have this procedure done by a veterinarian, under direct veterinary supervision.  

Pediatric drinks are unlikely to make much of a difference. Your cat likely needs intravenous fluids for a few days, a change in diet and then the cisapride and lactulose to maintain his regularity. Take your cat to your veterinarian right away.

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