Intestinal problems

My Cat Hasn't Pooped in 4 Days

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. February 25, 2021
My Cat Hasn't Pooped in 4 Days

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Cats are animals of routine, something which is very helpful for cat guardians. This is because changes in their routine can help us to know that something is wrong, even if there aren't any other obvious symptoms. Whether your cat has concurrent symptoms or is otherwise the same as usual, not pooping for an extended period of time is worrying. A cat should defecate at least once a day, often more. This means if they haven't pooped in 4 days or more, there is likely something wrong.

At AnimalWised, we reveal what might be wrong if my cat hasn't pooped in 4 days. We understand what cause constipation in cats and find out what we should do about it.

You may also be interested in: Megacolon in Cats - Symptoms and Treatment
  1. Are you sure your cat hasn't pooped in 4 days?
  2. Reasons you cat hasn't pooped in days
  3. Cat hasn't pooped in 4 days due to megacolon
  4. Symptoms of constipation in cats
  5. Treatment of constipation in cats
  6. How to prevent constipation in cats

Are you sure your cat hasn't pooped in 4 days?

The first thing we need to confirm is whether or not your cat hasn't pooped. Whether our cat has access to the outdoors or not, we need to litter train our cats. This means they will use their litter tray to defecate and urinate, not on the floor, in a neighbor's yard or anywhere else it would be inappropriate and unhygienic.

This is why we need to check in case our cat has pooped, just not somewhere we can observe. If we have an indoor cat, then it should be fairly obvious they have pooped somewhere other than their litter tray. This can be seen in cases when the cat keeps pooping on the bed or somewhere else they shouldn't do.

For an outdoor cat, there are other places they may have defecated, we may just not have seen them do so. For example, the cat may have gone next door, in some soil nearby or anywhere else except their litter tray. Cats will usually do this to a behavioral issue and it is not necessarily related to feline constipation.

The reasons for a cat not using their litter tray could be due to the hygiene of the tray, but it might also be due to stress or some other emotional issue. For example, if another cat tries to encroach on our cat's territory, our cat may poop on the perimeter to try to deter them with their smell. For a better understanding of the reasons why this happens, take a look at our article on why a cat is pooping outside their litter box.

Reasons you cat hasn't pooped in days

If you know for sure that your cat hasn't defecated, then the problem is almost certainly due to constipation. Constipation is a gastrointestinal (GI) disorder when the cat's feces is unable to travel all the way to the end of their digestive system.

The feces will accumulate in their colon and it can cause serious problems for the cat. Even the straining of trying to poop when constipated can be very painful and if the cat keeps eating as normal, the problem will get worse.

In general, the main causes of constipation in cats are:

  • Poor diet: our cats are carnivores and their main source of nutrition comes form animal protein. However, they will also need fiber to ensure good intestinal transit. Good commercial cat feed should have enough fiber to cover this problem, but sometimes homemade diets for cats miss them. If you want to feed your cat homemade food, speak to your vet about all their nutritional needs.

  • Trauma: if a cat has had an accident, it is possible they have sustained an injury to their gastrointestinal system. This can cause feces to impact and lead to constipation, and it is possible they don't have any other symptoms.

  • Hairballs: cats groom themselves a lot, using their tongue to keep their coat in condition and remove dead hair. Unfortunately, this can lead to hair collecting in their GI tract which causes hairballs in cats. When this happens, the hair obstructs fecal moved and caused constipation.

  • Foreign object: similar to hairballs, if the cat ingests a foreign object they cannot digest, it can cause an intestinal blockage. The severity of this problem will depend on the shape, size and material of the object.
  • Hormone imbalance: if the cat has a problem with their thyroid or some other cause of hormonal imbalance, it can affect their metabolism. The problems are usually related to the colon and cause an inability to contract which leads to constipation.

  • Obesity: cats which are overweight often have gastrointestinal problems which can include constipation.

  • IBD: inflammatory bowel disease in cats refers to a range of bowel problems and these are due to many causes, including psychological stress. Although diarrhea is much more common, it is possible constipation can occur.

  • Dehydration: water is vital for a cat to survive and function, the functioning of their digestive system is no exception. If the cat does not have sufficient access to clean drinking water, then they will become dehydrated which can result in constipation because the fecal matter is too poorly lubricated.

  • Kidney disease: if the kidneys do not function properly, they may not be letting enough water pass to the colon. In these cases, constipation may be due to dehydration of the feces mid-intestinal transit.
My Cat Hasn't Pooped in 4 Days - Reasons you cat hasn't pooped in days

Cat hasn't pooped in 4 days due to megacolon

Megacolon is another GI problem for cats which is particularly linked to constipation. In fact, if a cat suffers from megacolon, it is likely they will have chronic constipation. The problem can be either congenital or acquired.

Megacolon in cats is characterized by the muscles of the colon being too weak to properly contract and allow for a bowel movement, resulting in constipation. It most commonly occurs in middle-aged or older cats and can be accompanied by other symptoms other than constipation, which include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain

If your veterinarian suspects your cat has megacolon, they will diagnose with a physical examination to check the dilation of the anus. They will check the clinical history and perform an x-ray.

Symptoms of constipation in cats

As we have stated above, if your cat has not pooped in 24 hours, then it is likely they will be constipated. If your cat has not pooped for 4 days, it means the problem is getting serious and the symptoms will worsen. The general symptoms of constipation in cats include:

  • Tension in the abdomen
  • Lack of appetite
  • Signs of pain/discomfort
  • Straining when defecating

There are two different types of constipation; acute and chronic. In the case of acute constipation in cats, the cat may be a little confused and will strain a lot when pooping. In these cases, it is possible to see a little blood in the cat's stool. This will be red fresh blood from their anus, not digested blood which will be much darker. If they do manage to pass a stool, it will likely be hard in consistency.

If we see our cat's belly is swollen and hard, it might be due to constipation. However, there are some serious issues which can threaten the life of your cat if not treated. Not pooping for a number of days might alert us to the problem, but we need to look for other symptoms and take the cat to a veterinarian immediately.

Treatment of constipation in cats

Treatment of constipation in cats will depend on the underlying cause of why they are not pooping. Since the causes are varied, we need to take them to a veterinarian who will determine the correct course of treatment. There are some cases where a home remedy might encourage their gastrointestinal flow, but we might miss an important diagnosis if we do this, so it is advisable to take them to a vet.

Changes in the cat's diet are common. Since wet food has more water, it is better at keeping the cat hydrated. Cats with chronic constipation may require a permanent change to wet food.

Some cats may be given a laxative for acute constipation. Laxatives for cats will allow their gastrointestinal tract to move again and this may be enough to rectify the problem. Similarly, enemas may be administered if the blockage is significant and the cat laxatives do not work.

However, chronic illnesses or physical trauma will need to be treated. If they are obese, then some lifestyle changes will need to be made, especially in terms of diet. The same will happen with senior cats.

In rare cases, surgery may be required. This is usually due an intestinal blockage since there is no other way to pass the stool. Your veterinarian will determine whether this is the case.

My Cat Hasn't Pooped in 4 Days - Treatment of constipation in cats

How to prevent constipation in cats

Once the cat has been treated for the underlying condition, it can help us to know more about their overall health. There are risk factors for cats with constipation, particularly due to weight and age. A sedentary lifestyle is a contributing factor. In addition to improving their diet, you may need to encourage exercise with your cat. Although senior cats can have mobility issues, we can still find ways to help them stay healthy.

We should also find ways to help our cat drink water and there are ways to help avoid accumulation of hairballs. Malt paste for cats is a great way to both give your cat a treat and help functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.

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 My Cat Hasn't Pooped in 4 Days, we recommend you visit our Intestinal problems category.

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My Cat Hasn't Pooped in 4 Days