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Ask the Veterinarian/17 y/o cat slightly constipated


My husband and I have a 17 y/o (indoor only) cat who is well cared for and in fairly good health.  I say fairly because our vet recently (last six months), told us that she needs thyroid medicine.  We give it to her twice a day and she's doing very well.  We get her labs done every 4-6 months.  Except for some arthritis, she is very mobile, jumps, and is very vocal!  We love her, even when she's crabby.
My only concern for her is that she tends to get constipated.  She does have bowel movements and the stool is normal, but she seems to struggle a bit more.  She's much happier after she has a successful visit to the litter bos.  My question is, is there any OTC treatment that you can suggest to help her?  I don't want to give her prescription meds. for this.  I also don't want to give her something that will cause cramps or diarrhea.  Is there something to just make it easier for her, i.e., a stool softener?  Any help will be appreciated.
Thank you.

It's very common for cats this age to have some constipation due to the colon being a bit dryer and less peristalsis action in the intestines as well.

The most common things that vets recommend are canned pumpkin in their food and/or a capsule that you can put over her food called Vetacyl, which is super-fine ground up psyllium husk, a key ingredient in Metamucil.

Don't use Metamucil because it has a lot of things in it that are toxic to cats. I used canned pumpkin on my cat Floyd when he was 19 and it worked well. They generally tolerate the taste.

I used about a heaping teaspoonful twice a day in some wet food for him.

Her thyroid might also have something to do with this unless she had it before the hyperthyroidism was diagnosed.

Make sure you use plain canned pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie cans!
Also make sure she is getting plenty of water.

Other things you can do:

Give a little tuna with oil in it.
Give petroleum jelly orally.
Give some olive or vegetable oil daily
Give some Laxatone daily

When you open the can of pumpkin, freeze the rest in ice cube trays and just take out three or so a day for her.

Hope this helps!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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