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The best cat food for constipation is wet low residue cat food. This helps make smaller moist poos for easier passage. Adding psyllium to wet cat food helps to soften poo and stimulates bowel movements.
Here are our best 5 cat foods handpicked from our research to help with constipation:
- Best Overall: Nulo Freestyle Duck & Tuna
- Best for Weight Loss: Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Pork
- Best Affordable Choice: Sheba Perfect Portions Roasted Turkey Entree
- Best Limited Ingredient Choice: Meat Mates Lamb Dinner
- Best for Picky Eaters: Wellness Core Tiny Tasters Duck Pate
Constipation is most common in middle-aged and older cats. Untreated, it can lead to nasty problems like megacolon which require surgery to treat.
60% of constipation cases in cats are idiopathic. This means your vet won’t be able to find a cause. Adjusting your cats diet crucial to helping your cat enjoy easier poos.
In this article, I’ll talk more about constipation in cats and what to look for when buying cat food. I’ll also answer frequently asked questions on the topic.
I’ve used research based best practice criteria to select products in this article. Where possible, I’ve test products with my own cat team to get the meow of approval.
I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
5 Best Cat Food for Constipation Choices
Best Cat Food for Constipation Overall
Cat Food: Nulo Freestyle Duck & Tuna
Who it’s for: Nulo Freestyle is low-residue wet cat food that helps ease constipation by reducing the size of poos. It contains guar gum which helps moistens poos for easy passage.
Who it’s not for: There’s a few plant based ingredients in the tin that might trouble a fussy eater. This includes pumpkin, cranberries, and tomatoes.
Learn More: Nulo Cat Food Review
Best Low Calorie Cat Food for Constipation
Cat Food: Tiki Cat After Dark Chicken & Pork
Who it’s for: A low calorie premium cat food to help cats lose weight and stay at a healthy weight. No grains or legumes in the tin to help with irritable stomachs.
Who it’s not for: Some options have a low calcium: phosphate ratio which isn’t the best choice for cats with kidney disease.
Learn More: Tiki Cat After Dark Review
Best Budget Cat Food for Constipation
Who it’s for: Our cats love this stuff and customer reviews are also positive. Has added guar gum in the tin to help loosen up feces.
Who it’s not for: This is a great choice for any cat, but some might not trust this Mars Petfood brand.
Best Limited Ingredient Cat Food for Constipation
Cat Food: Meat Mates Lamb Dinner
Who it’s for: Meat Mates lamb is helpful for food intolerance related digestive issues. It also has added flaxseed that will help clear up constipation. Our 5 cats enjoyed Meat Mates.
Who it’s not for: The crappy availability and pricier price tag are the only issues here because you can give any senior cat Meat Mates wet canned foods.
Learn More: Meat Mates Cat Food Review
Best Cat Food For Picky Eaters with Constipation
Cat Food: Wellness Core Tiny Tasters Duck Pate
Who it’s for: A great low residue wet cat food for fussy eaters. Our cats loved Wellness Core. The high calcium to phosphate ratio is also kidney friendly.
Who it’s not for: Nothing really bad here. Check with you vet for your specific situation.
Learn More: Wellness Core Cat Food Review
How Did I Choose These Products?
Using the best practice guidelines below I sorted cat food options. These are foods I’ve researched and where possible, tested on my own cats.
I filtered for the criteria and sorted based on nutrition quality. I’ve also filtered for the best inexpensive options.
You can find more information about each cat food by looking at my reviews on the product.
Best Cat Food for Constipation Selection Criteria
- Wet cat food
- Low residue (less than 10% fiber on a dry matter basis)
- Contains added soluble fiber sources
- Nutrition quality
- Ingredient quality
- (for elimination diets) Novel protein and limited ingredients
If you suspect a constipated cat, call your vet. Solving the problem is a process of elimination.
The vet will try to rule out causes. This includes:
- Change in behavior (e.g. litter box avoidance)
- Stress (e.g. change in routine)
Other risk factors related to diet include:
- Kidney disease
The goal of a constipation diet is to stimulate the bowel by adding bulk or moisture.
Food sensitivities also impact bowel function. Grains and other fillers are key culprits.
If the vet cannot diagnose the cause of the problem it’s called idiopathic constipation (lingo for ‘we don’t know’). There’s a lack of randomized trials in this area so expect some trial and error.
Here are some dietary approaches to consider:
Use Wet Cat Food to Loosen up Poos
Dehydration is one cause of constipation, particularly in senior cats. Switching to an all wet cat food diet helps boost water intake and lubricate the feces.
Dry kibble is low in water. Cat’s have a weaker thirst drive than humans and tend to not drink enough.
Wet cat food can also help reduce the risk of urinary stones.
What to look for?
This one’s pretty simple:
Pick any wet cat food.
All wet cat food contains over 75% moisture. Whilst some brands contain a little more (e.g. Weruva) than others, any wet cat food will do.
Try a Low Residue Diet to Stop Large Hard Poos
A low residue diet is a low fiber diet. Lowering fiber (less than 10% of the total dry matter basis) can help reduce feces size to make passing feces easier.
There are two types of fiber:
Insoluble fiber adds bulk and soluble fiber adds moisture. Whilst some soluble fiber can help lubricate the feces, insoluble fiber takes away moisture and hardens feces.
Here are some reasons for using a low residue diet to treat constipation in cats:
- Reduces the amount of feces produced
- Can help stimulate motility (passage of feces down the bowels)
- Smaller poos for easier elimination with an enema
This approach is more geared towards short term results. Clear up the traffic in the bowels and get things back to normal.
What to look for?
Over 90% of the wet food should be comprised of protein, fat, and carbohydrate on a dry matter basis.
Look for as low as crude fiber as possible. Check the guaranteed analysis on the back of the label.
Here’s a list of low fiber wet cat foods I’ve analyzed in my research:
|Best Low-Residue Wet Cat Foods||Fiber (% on a dry matter basis)|
|Nulo Freestyle | Duck & tuna recipe||0.4%|
|Wellness CORE Tiny Tasters | Duck pate||0.4%|
|Feline Natural Feast | Chicken & lamb feast||0.5%|
|Dave’s Naturally | Turkey & giblets dinner||0.8%|
|Fussie Cat Premium | Tuna with salmon formula in aspic||2.9%|
|Power Pate | Chicken & liver dinner||3.4%|
|Meat Mates | Lamb dinner||3.9%|
|Tiki Cat After Dark | Chicken & quail egg recipe in broth||3.9%|
|Ziwi Peak Provenance Series | Otago valley||4.1%|
|Friskies Pate | Turkey & giblets dinner||4.5%|
Add Psyllium to Loosen Things Up
Soluble fiber also ferments to short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These fatty acids seem to help smooth muscle function of the bowel (i.e. stimulate movement).
A one month trial of psyllium helped treat constipation in 14 cats. The dosage was between 1-4 tsp of psyllium per 3 ounce can of cat food.
Other sources of soluble fiber include:
- Beet pulp
- Guar gum
Some wet cat foods contain these ingredients, which can benefit constipation.
What to look for?
You can add psyllium to your wet cat food. Use 1-4 tsp per 3 ounce can of cat food.
Another thing to look for is soluble fiber food sources in the cat food. This includes:
- Beet pulp
- Guar gum
These ingredients can help clear up the constipation.
Here’s a link to where to buy psyllium powder.
Try an Elimination Diet for Food Intolerances
An estimated 7-10% of all cats have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Constipation is one side effect of IBS (called IBS-C).
The cause of IBS is unclear. Food intolerance is one possible cause.
An elimination diet is a dietary treatment for food intolerance. This diet limits the food sources to identify ‘trouble foods’. The safest food sources are novel proteins (protein not used in your cats usual diet).
Avoiding all forms of grain can help. Grains are also a source of insoluble fiber which can increase bulk and strain. A study found corn gluten meal decreased fecal moisture compared to fish meal.
What to look for?
If all other approaches haven’t worked out, try a novel protein wet cat food.
The goal is to get rid of all filler ingredients and tease out whether food intolerance is to blame for the constipation.
Use a novel protein food that is AAFCO approved for all life stages. This ensures your cat gets all the nutrition they need for health.
Here are some limited ingredient and novel protein wet foods to check out (these also meet the low-residue criteria):
Treat the Underlying Cause
Weight gain, kidney disease, and electrolyte imbalance can all increase the risk of constipation.
Always keep your cat at a healthy weight. Use the body condition score chart to find out if your cat is carrying too much weight.
If your cat is overweight, look at help them lose weight by finding out how much to feed them. Avoid free feeding as this can increase calorie intake.
What to look for?
In general, a low calorie wet cat food is the best option that’s balanced in nutrients. Ultimately, what you choose depends on whether your cat needs to lose weight or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Constipation in Cats?
Constipation is a problem of difficult to pass or infrequent feces. This problem leads to a lot of pain and discomfort.
How Do I Know if My Cat Has Constipation?
Here are a few symptoms of constipation to look for in cats:
- Small hard feces
- Hard and distended abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy (tiredness)
If you notice a change in the frequency and consistency of bowel movements, speak with a vet.
Why Do Cats Get Constipated?
There are many causes of constipation in cats that include:
- Foreign material obstruction (e.g. chewed cloth)
- Litter box changes (e.g. change in location or type of litter)
- Joint pain (i.e. hard to access litter box)
- Lack of exercise
Based on data from cat shelters, the risk of constipation increases with age. Senior cats over the age of 11 years aren’t at a greater risk of constipation compared to middle-aged cats (7-11 years).
Stress is another cause of constipation. Cat’s experience stress when moved as they are territorial animals. Moving house or changing routine can increase stress.
What Should I Avoid Feeding a Constipated Cat?
Avoid giving a constipated cat dry cat food. Dry food is low in moisture and high in insoluble fiber. This creates large and hard feces that can be hard to pass.
High insoluble fiber ingredients include:
- Wheat bran
Insoluble fiber also impairs nutrient digestion.
What Can I Do to Help a Constipated Cat?
Here are a few other tips to help treat constipation:
- Keep food bowls away from the cat litter box (reduce stress and litter box avoidance)
- Keep food and drink bowls clean (increase water intake)
- Use a large shallow water bowl to reduce whisker friction (increase water intake)
- If your cat has arthritis, use a larger litter box with low sides for easy access
Changing your cat’s bowl might help improve water intake. Some cats prefer drinking from a water fountain.
Can Wet Food Make Cats Constipated?
Wet food is usually the best option for cats. It’s lower in fiber and higher in moisture than dry cat food. This helps improve the passage of feces through the bowel.
Is There Any Natural Remedy for Constipation?
Using 1-4 tsp of psyllium per can of cat food helps relieve constipation. Other sources of soluble fiber may improve lubrication and bowel movement.
Speak with your vet to discuss home remedies.
Is Constipation Dangerous for Cats?
Yes. Constipation is a serious problem if it persists. It can lead to megacolon and surgical intervention if untreatable with diet and medication.
Constipation can lead to impacted feces. This can require surgical intervention and intravenous fluid treatment to relieve the intestinal tract.
Be aware of any symptoms (e.g. straining) and changes in litter box routine. If you notice anything unusual, don’t hesitate to contact a vet.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain upon touching the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Watery diarrhea
Be cautious with age, as older cats (especially overweight) have a higher risk of constipation.
Can I Give My Cat a Laxative?
Consult with a vet before attempting the use of a laxative. Laxatives are stimulants or bulking agents.
Stimulants help to lubricate feces and make them easier to pass through the intestinal tract. Bulking agents increase the size of the feces.
Contact a vet if you notice your cat straining to pass feces. If they cannot pin down the cause (i.e. idiopathic constipation), try adjusting your cats diet.
Here are my top tips to give your cat relief from constipation:
- Switch to a wet cat food to loosen up poos
- Try a low residue diet to stop large hard poos
- Add psyllium to loosen things up (1-4 tsp per tin of cat food)
- Try an elimination diet for food intolerances
- Treating the underlying causes of the problem (e.g. being overweight)
Most of the approaches are ‘trial and error’. The goal is to find a diet that gives your cat the nutrition they need, whilst helping to keep their bowels moving.