Will My Cat’s Constipation Reoccur?

What to do when an otherwise healthy older cat develops regularity problems.

Q: I’m very concerned about my 15-year-old cat Jean-Claude. He’s never had a constipation problem until two weeks ago when I changed his diet. After the switch, he became very tired. I took him to the vet, but I might have waited too long (9 days). By that time, he had defecated in the litterbox only two times. My vet advised me to give him glycerin suppositories, which I did, with minimal success. The next day he went back to the vet, where he was kept overnight and was given an enema and a drug that begins with “p” that is supposed to stimulate his large intestine. He did go to the bathroom after that. The vet also gave him cortisone and B12 shots to help him get his appetite back. They did an X-ray and there were no obstructions, but he has a small kidney stone.  

My cat has continued to go to the bathroom normally ever since. He’s back on his regular food now. But will he continue to be regular?

A: Some cats have constipation problems that can lead to a serious condition called megacolon. I do not think that’s the case with your cat. It sounds like he had a case of constipation that went a little too far and he became impacted. An enema usually gets them back on track. The drug he was given (probably cisapride, which has the brand name propulsid) helps the colon contract and expel any stool in his colon. The cortisone shot and B12 shot were unnecessary. Hopefully this constipation episode is a one-time incident. If he continues to have a constipation problem, you might need to give him stool softeners and perhaps change his diet again, to a diet specially formulated for cats with this problem. Your veterinarian can advise you which diets are best.

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Cats · Health and Care