Before having a cat, you probably didn’t realize how much of your time would be centered around their bathroom habits. There’s the daily scooping of the litter box and the occasional accident, but you can also tell a lot about a cat’s health through their feces, or lack thereof.
One of the problems cats can face is constipation, the reduced or difficult passage of feces. Constipation can also indicate that something worse is brewing with your cat’s digestive tract or other systems. It can also be something that plagues some kitties throughout their life. For those cats, finding one of the best cat foods for constipation may help them with this ailment.
1. Best Overall: Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care
Specially formulated by Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians to support your cat’s digestive health.
Unique blend of prebiotic fibers to promote regular bowel movements and help balance digestive function.
If your cat is often constipated, Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome may help to alleviate their problem for good. This prescription cat food is specially formulated for digestive regularity using a prebiotic fiber blend to promote a healthy and normal gut microbiome. Veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists formulated it to help regulate stools in as little as 24 hours.
In addition to high fiber content, Hill’s Gastrointestinal Biome cat food also contains high levels of omega fatty acids to help decrease inflammation and boost skin and haircoat health. This digestive health food can also help reduce the chance of developing urinary tract crystals and stones.
This food from Hill’s is a prescription food which makes it harder to get and harder to find. You will have to see a veterinarian first, which isn’t a bad idea for chronic constipation anyway. Also, it’s a pretty different formula than most cats are used to, so switching over to it should be done gradually to prevent digestive issues going the other way.
- High fiber
- High omega fatty acids
- Veterinary formulated
- Requires a prescription
- May be hard to find
2. Runner Up: Purina Pro Plan Indoor Care
Fortified with live probiotics to support digestive and immune health.
Natural fiber helps to control hairballs.
With real turkey or salmon as the first ingredient, Purina Pro Plan Indoor Care is a good quality food specially formulated for an indoor lifestyle. It is high in protein to fuel your cat without adding unnecessary weight and high in antioxidants for a healthy immune system. There are plenty of omega fatty acids and vitamin A to support vision and healthy skin and haircoat. It is high in fiber to help remove hairballs from the digestive system as well.
The high fiber content also makes it helpful in relieving constipation in cats. On top of that, Purina Pro Plan Indoor formula contains prebiotic fiber and probiotics to feed and replenish the gut’s microbiome for healthy digestion to prevent constipation in the first place.
However, some cats aren’t going to like this food. Fortunately, there are a couple of different flavors to choose from if your kitty turns up their nose at one. Also, there have been some problems with quality depending on the distributor, so always be sure to check the color and odor before feeding it to your cat.
- High in fiber
- Contains probiotics
- Essential nutrition for indoor cats
- Some cats might not eat it
- Quality control issues depending on the distributor
3. Best Canned Food: Halo Indoor Wet Cat Food
No factory farming, growth hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Uses non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and can is BPA free.
Halo canned cat food is a highly digestible product made from whole meats, fruits, and vegetables. It doesn’t use any meat meals, artificial ingredients, or grains. All of this makes it easily digestible so that your cat gets the nutrients they need without unnecessary fillers. This food is meant for indoor cats, so it is low in fat and calories and high in omega fatty acids to fight inflammation and boost skin and haircoat health.
Since most indoor cat food formulas are centered around fiber content to help control weight and promote hairball removal, they can also help with constipation issues. This canned cat food from Halo is no different. On top of high fiber content, Halo Indoor wet cat food also contains plenty of moisture that will also help keep your kitty hydrated to prevent constipation as well.
Canned cat food can be hard to quality control, especially if you’re getting it from an online supplier. That’s because it doesn’t stay fresh for as long as dry kibble. For this reason, you will want to make sure that each can of cat food has the correct color and smell before feeding it to your cat.
- High fiber
- High moisture
- High digestibility
- Quality control issues
- Recipe change
- Some cats may not like it
4. Canned Food Runner Up: Blue Buffalo True Solutions Blissful Belly Wet Cat Food
Made with high-quality real meat as the first ingredient.
Made with highly digestible ingredients including a prebiotic fiber clinically proven to support digestive health.
Another great canned cat food product to help with constipation is Blue Buffalo True Solutions Blissful Belly. This food is made with whole ingredients, including meat, fruits, and vegetables. It doesn’t contain artificial ingredients, by-products, or corn, so it is highly digestible and nutritious. High digestibility is important because the more undigestible fillers in a food, the more chance your cat will develop blockages.
Blue Buffalo True Solutions Blissful Belly wet cat food can help prevent and treat constipation and regulate stool quality with high digestibility and fiber. It also contains prebiotics to support a healthy microbiome and is high in moisture, both of which help prevent dehydration and dried out feces and promote regular digestion.
Some kitties aren’t going to like this food and might not eat it. As with any canned cat food, you’ll need to pay close attention to the quality and freshness. Monitor every can for color and smell.
- High moisture
- Contains prebiotic fiber
- Whole ingredients
- Quality control issues
- Some cats aren’t going to like it
5. Best Budget Option: IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight and Hairball Control
100% complete and balanced adult nutrition with 0% fillers.
Real chicken is the 1st ingredient.
IAMS Proactive Health is a good quality food overall, especially for the price. It provides real, whole chicken as the first ingredient, zero fillers, and omega fatty acids for a healthy haircoat and skin. This is also an excellent food for indoor cats who tend to get on the pleasantly plump side and suffer from constant hairballs.
This food is high in fiber to keep your cat feeling full without additional calories and helps clear the digestive system of hairballs. Along with that, high fiber content can help regulate bowel movements by bulking it up to stimulate the intestine.
- High fiber content
- Omega fatty acids
- Real, whole meat as the first ingredient
- Possible recipe change
- Possible mold issues depending on the distributor
- Best Cat Foods for Constipation Buying Guide
There are many reasons that a cat can become constipated. Anything from eating something they shouldn’t have to the side effects of a medication can leave your kitty a little stopped up. Fortunately, feeding them the right food can help set things right again, but you’ve got to know what makes that food the right one.
Signs of Constipation in Cats
Most kitties keep a fairly regular schedule, even for pooping. So, if you find an empty litter box after a couple of days, your cat may be constipated. However, just because there is feces in the litter box doesn’t mean that your cat is home-free. Small, hard pellets rather than regular, formed, moist stools are also a sign of constipation.
Some cats may show their constipation by their discomfort. Cats that cry or strain when at the litter box may be having some digestive issues. Also, cats that avoid the litter box altogether may be suffering as well. Litter box aside, constipated cats may also not be eating as much, not want to jump or play, may walk stiffly, or may hide.
Why Do Cats Get Constipated?
Causes of constipation in cats can be as simple as dehydration caused by not drinking enough water. Hairballs or ingestion of foreign bodies like string or bone can cause blockages in the intestines. Lack of exercise slows the movement in the digestive tract, and pain in the pelvis or legs from an injury or arthritis can keep a cat from trying to defecate.
More serious causes include kidney disease, nerve dysfunction, megacolon, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, anal gland problems, and some kinds of cancer. These issues can lead to constipation due to decreased movement of the intestines, pain, or dehydration.
What to Look for in Cat Foods for Constipation
As long as your cat doesn’t have any underlying health conditions contributing to their difficult bowel movements, giving them the right cat foods can help keep them regular.
Proper foods include:
- Fiber: Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water while insoluble fiber does not. Both promote regular digestion from different angles, so they work together well when combating constipation. Soluble fiber from pumpkin, apples, or psyllium is fermented into volatile fatty acids in the colon, which helps to stimulate intestinal contraction. Insoluble fiber from green beans, nuts, or wheat helps bulk up a bowel movement to stimulate those same contractions. The result is the same, a more motile colon to move feces through and out.
- Moisture: One of the colon’s main jobs is to absorb water. This means that the longer a bowel movement sits in the colon, the more water that gets sucked out of it and the harder, drier, and more difficult to pass it becomes. Along with this, dehydration is one of the leading causes of constipation. Increasing the amount of moisture in the food to increase the moisture in your cat’s feces can help overcome this problem.
- Probiotics: The primary regulator of your cat’s digestive tract is their microbiome. These are the good bacteria that digest food and get the nutrients where they need to go. Any disruption to the microbiome can lead to digestive upset, including constipation. Feeding a cat food rich in probiotics can help repopulate and support those good bacteria for a healthier digestive tract and less constipation.
- Whole Foods: A cat’s digestive tract is acutely honed to digest prey. That’s their natural diet, and their guts are efficient at digesting it. They’re not meant to eat foods that have been highly processed or are full of artificial ingredients. Choosing a cat food made from whole foods, especially whole lean meats, is an important part of preventing constipation due to the digestibility of the food. Look for products that use whole meats as the first few ingredients and stay away from processed products like meals and flours.
Cats are no strangers to constipation, especially if they’re not on the proper diet. Giving your cat the right food for constipation can help put their digestive system on the right track. Any of them will supply the best nutrition with some additional bonuses to help keep their tummies full and their bowels regular.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.