Liquid Paraffin for Cats - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

By Laura GarcĂ­a Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. May 6, 2022
Liquid Paraffin for Cats - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

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Gastrointestinal diseases are relatively common in felines. They can be accompanied by various symptoms, all of which need to be monitored by their caregivers. Constipation is a digestive problem which can go unnoticed by cat guardians, especially if they do not check their litter regularly. The underlying causes of constipation are varied and can be due to either physiological or psychological problems. These include stress, infections, poor diet, side effects of medication and many others. Liquid paraffin in a potential treatment option for feline constipation.

At AnimalWised, we look into detail at liquid paraffin for cats. Specifically, we look at its usage, dosage and side effects, as well as possible contraindications.

What is liquid paraffin for cats?

While it may be sold under different names, liquid paraffin (paraffinum liquidum) is a drug which is also sometimes known as Russian mineral oil. It is a highly refined mineral oil which is used in medicine, as well as cosmetics for humans. It is more commonly an active ingredient in topical emollients which are used to relieve various skin conditions, especially dryness. However, it can be sold for oral ingestion.

Liquid paraffin is refined from petroleum. It is vitally important that medicinal liquid paraffin is not confused with paraffin used as a fuel. This less-refined version is known as kerosene and is toxic if ingested, highly flammable and can even cause problems topically. Not only should you never give kerosene to a cat, you should never administer liquid paraffin without prior consultation with your veterinarian.

The action of liquid paraffin works by covering the intestine in hydrophobic layer that prevents it from absorbing water. This means the fecal matter which is passing through can better maintain its moisture. This facilitates intestinal transit and proper defecation without irritating the mucosa of the intestine, rectum or anus. Liquid paraffin is given orally for this purpose.

Uses of liquid paraffin in cats

Liquid paraffin is used as a liquid laxative in cases of constipation or megacolon in cats. Normal intestinal transit of a cat lasts around 12 to 24 hours between ingestion of food and elimination of feces. When this healthy digestion is altered, this duration is prolonged and will worsen the longer it continues. This is partly because the feces will further dehydrate as the colon continues to remove moisture from it even though it is not moving.

When the stool hardens and obstructs intestinal transit, the cat is constipated. Megacolon occurs when this constipation becomes chronic. The retention of feces produces a severe dilation of the colon, losing the ability to contract due to hypomotility.

The underlying causes of constipation are various. They include:

  • Stress or fear of new situations
  • Pelvic or rectal pain that hinders defecation
  • Sacral-coccygeal trauma
  • Trauma or feline dysautonomia
  • Obstruction or stricture of the colon
  • Obesity
  • Dehydration
  • Hypokalemia
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Certain drugs

Liquid paraffin won't be used to treat these various conditions, but it be used to manage their symptoms. A veterinarian will be required to diagnose the underlying cause and administer the appropriate treatment. Once these causes are treated, the constipation should alleviate and liquid paraffin administration cease.

Dosage of liquid paraffin for cats

As we have mentioned, a cat can be constipated for various reasons, so if your cat cannot defecate you should go to a veterinary center. Keep in mind that constipation can be due to something serious that requires specific treatment, so you should not use this medicine without a veterinary prescription.

The dose of liquid paraffin for cats will depend on the severity of the condition and the weight and size of the animal. The veterinarian will be able to establish the dose of the medicine that you should use in your cat. Due to the pharmacokinetics (time of drug absorption) liquid paraffin can be used in cats with liver or kidney disease as it is not metabolized in the liver and is eliminated in the feces rather than urine.

The action of liquid paraffin occurs once it reaches the intestine. It softens the stool and facilitates its defecation. In severe cases of constipation, liquid paraffin may be used as an enema, but this will be under the care of the veterinarian. In general, the dosage of liquid paraffin for the cat will be about 2 ml given orally a maximum of twice per day. Again, the exact dosage will be determined by the veterinarian.

Side effects of liquid paraffin for cats

Liquid paraffin is considered safe in cats as long as the prescribed dose is respected. In cases of overdose, effects such as anal elimination of paraffin, cramps, muscle weakness, diarrhea with consequent loss of electrolytes and dehydration can occur.

Side effects are rare, but among them we can observe the following:

  • Hypersensitivity active ingredients or excipients
  • Deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins such as D, E, A and K
  • Dehydration
  • Skin or anal itching
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Watery stools
  • Abdominal pain

Contraindications of liquid paraffin for cats

As with all all medicines, has a series of contraindications for use to be taken into account before starting constipation therapy in cats. This will be determine after a patient history and physical examination is carried out by the veterinarian. Liquid paraffin should not be administered in the following cases:

  • Cats with known hypersensitivity to liquid paraffin or any of the drug's excipients
  • Pregnant cats due to the risk of malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins and the risk of damage
  • Lactating cats because the risk of passage into breast milk has not been studied
  • Cats with intestinal obstruction
  • Cats with fecal impaction
  • Cats with vomiting
  • Cats with paralytic ileus
  • Cats with diarrhea or digestive bleeding
  • Cats suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases

Constipation is quite common in kittens that have been separated from their mother too soon. In these cases you may wonder how to stimulate a cat to defecate. Liquid paraffin may not be the best options for such a young cat. If you want to learn more, take a look at our article on how to help a kitten defecate. For adult cats, we must again reiterate you will need to consult a veterinarian and never given any other type of paraffin to a cat.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Liquid Paraffin for Cats - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

  • Fidalgo, L. E. (2003). Veterinary Medical Pathology: Textbook for the Teaching of the Subject. Kadmos Printing.

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Liquid Paraffin for Cats - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects
Liquid Paraffin for Cats - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

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