Best Cat Food for Constipation

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Constipation is a problem involving hard poos that make toileting difficult for your cat.

Our cat food recommendations to clear constipation:

  • Choose wet food for added moisture to soften poos.
  • Try a low residue diet to make poos smaller and easier to pass.
  • Add a psyllium supplement to help loosen and soften poos.

60% of constipation cases in cats are idiopathic. This means your vet won’t find a cause.

In this guide I will take a deep dive into strategies to treat constipation.

My top pick is Fancy Feast Creamy Delights.

It’s a budget friendly and low residue wet food with a great taste. Suitable for cats of any age.

What to Look for in the Best Cat Food for Constipation?

Short answers:

  • Initial Steps for Treating Constipation:
    • Consult a vet for an assessment.
    • Factors to consider include medication, behavior changes, stress, and age.
  • Risk Factors:
    • Stress, particularly from changes in routine or environment.
    • 5.6% of cats in UK shelters experienced constipation in 2019, likely stress-related.
    • Dehydration, obesity, and kidney disease also contribute to constipation risks.
  • Dietary Approaches:
    • Aim for a diet that stimulates bowel movement through bulk or moisture.
    • Avoid grains and fillers that may irritate digestion.
  • Trial and Error Method:
    • Due to limited trials, treating idiopathic constipation often involves experimentation.
  • Diet Recommendations:
    • High Moisture Content: Choose wet cat food (75 – 85% moisture) over dry food (10 – 12% moisture) to prevent dehydration and constipation.
    • Low Residue Diet: Opt for diets with less than 10% fiber to reduce bulk in feces and ease passage.
    • Add Psyllium: 1-4 tsp of psyllium can soften feces by adding soluble fiber, which also aids bowel movement.
  • Additional Tips:
    • Consider an elimination diet to identify food intolerances contributing to IBS and constipation.
    • Address underlying health issues like weight gain and kidney disease to reduce constipation risk.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Moisture-rich diets and low residue foods can help manage constipation.
    • Supplements like psyllium add necessary fiber without increasing bulk.
    • Consultation with a vet is crucial for a tailored approach, especially for diagnosing and managing underlying conditions.

Long answers:

Treating constipation is a process of elimination.

First, see a vet.

They’ll look for clues, including:

  • Medication
  • Change in behavior (e.g. litter box avoidance)
  • Stress (e.g. change in routine)

Older cats are at a higher risk of constipation.

Stress also increases risk.

5.6% of UK rehoming shelter cats had constipation in a 2019 study, possibly related to stress.

Cat shelters and similar can increase stress and constipation in cats
Cat shelters and similar can increase stress and constipation in cats.

Other risk factors related to diet include:

  • Dehydration
  • Overweight
  • 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 fillers may irritate digestion.

If undiagnosed, it’s called idiopathic constipation (lingo for ‘we don’t know’). There’s not many trials in this area.

So this results in trial and error.

Here’s what to try:

Look for High Moisture Content

Dehydration can cause constipation.

Senior cats are at risk, as are cats on a dry cat food only diet.

Wet food offers moisture to loosen things up. It also cuts the risk of urinary stones.

Here’s how wet and dry food compare:

  • Wet cat food: 75 – 85% moisture.
  • Dry cat food: 10 – 12% moisture.

If you can’t give your cat wet food, then try adding moisture to dry food and increase provision of water bowls.

Try a Low Residue Diet

A low residue diet is a low fiber diet.

A low fiber diet (less than 10% fiber) helps make passing feces easier.

There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber adds bulk and soluble fiber adds moisture.

Whilst soluble fiber helps with lubrication, insoluble fiber dries feces.

It might be that it’s only insoluble that needs minimizing. However cat food labels don’t display what type of fiber used.

Not to worry, since you can add fiber manually back into the food (soluble) to aid with constipation. More on that later.

So why use a low residue diet?

Reasons include:

  • Less bulky poo (easier to pass).
  • Helps with motility.
  • Better results with enema.

A low residue diet is a short term fix.

Clear up bulk and get things back to normal.

Choose cat food with less than 10% fiber dry matter basis.

Most wet cat foods achieve this.

Add Psyllium to Loosen Things Up

Add 1-4 tsp psyllium to soften poo.

Psyllium is a soluble fiber.

As we’ve mentioned, it helps with lubrication.

Soluble fiber also ferments to short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These fatty acids aid 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
  • Pectins

Some wet cat foods contain these ingredients, which can benefit constipation.

So either look for wet cat food with either of those ingredients or add psyllium.

>> Find psyllium powder here.

Try an Elimination Diet

7-10% of 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.

Elimination diets help isolate the problem food that irritates digestion.

To start, you need to use a novel protein cat food. This is anything not found in most cat foods (e.g. venison, rabbit).

Another alternative is a hydrolyzed formula.

Choose novel protein food that meets the needs as a complete meal per AAFCO’s guidelines on cat nutrition.

More on elimination diets here. This one’s best talked over with a vet.

Treat the Underlying Cause

Here’s what increases constipation risk:

  • Weight gain
  • Kidney disease
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Keep your cat at a healthy weight.

That’s a 5 on the body condition score chart. See here.

A study found corn gluten meal decreased fecal moisture compared to fish meal.

Speak with a vet about managing health problems.

Learn More:

Frequently Asked Questions

Quick answers:

  • What is Constipation in Cats?
    • Difficulty passing or infrequent feces, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Symptoms of Constipation?
    • Small, hard feces.
    • Hard and distended abdomen.
    • Loss of appetite.
    • Lethargy.
    • Vomiting.
    • Changes in frequency and consistency of bowel movements.
  • Causes of Constipation?
    • Aging.
    • Foreign material obstruction.
    • Stress.
    • Changes in litter box.
    • Joint pain.
    • Lack of exercise.
    • Dehydration.
    • Medication.
  • Feeding Advice?
    • Avoid dry cat food due to low moisture and high insoluble fiber.
    • Insoluble fiber sources to avoid include cellulose, wheat bran, and flaxseed.
  • Helping a Constipated Cat?
    • Increase water intake.
    • Maintain clean water bowls and consider water fountains.
  • Wet Food and Constipation?
    • Less likely to cause constipation compared to dry food.
  • Natural Remedies?
    • Psyllium (1-4 tsp) can help loosen stools.
  • Risks of Constipation?
    • Can lead to serious health issues requiring surgical intervention.
    • Symptoms include pain upon touching the abdomen, loss of appetite, vomiting, and watery diarrhea.
  • Laxatives for Cats?
    • Consult a vet before using laxatives.
    • Options include stimulants and bulking agents to ease or stimulate bowel movements.

Long answers:

What Is Constipation in Cats?

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 symptoms:

  • Small hard feces
  • Hard and distended abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy (tiredness)
  • Vomiting

Notice a change in frequency and consistency?

Speak with a vet for help.

Why Do Cats Get Constipated?

Possible causes include:

  • Aging
  • Foreign material obstruction (e.g. chewed cloth)
  • Stress
  • Litter box changes (e.g. change in location or type of litter)
  • Joint pain (i.e. hard to access litter box)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Dehydration
  • Medicine

Risk of constipation increases with age.

However, senior cats over 11 aren’t at a greater risk compared to middle-aged cats (7-11 years).

Stress can cause constipation.

Cat’s get stressed when moved as they are territorial animals. Consider if your cat has recently experienced a lifestyle or routine change.

What Should I Avoid Feeding a Constipated Cat?

Avoid dry cat food.

It’s low moisture and high in insoluble fiber. This creates large and hard feces that are hard to pass.

It depends on amount. Too much of anything is bad.

High insoluble fiber ingredients include:

  • Cellulose
  • Wheat bran
  • Flaxseed

Insoluble fiber also impairs nutrient digestion.

What Can I Do to Help a Constipated Cat?

Try boost water intake.

Strategies include:

  • Keep food and drink away from litter
  • Keep bowls clean
  • Use a large shallow bowl
  • Add more water bowls

Consider a water fountain. Some cats prefer it.

Learn More:

Can Wet Food Make Cats Constipated?

It’s possible but less likely than dry cat food.

Constipation has many possible causes.

Medication. Stress. Underlying health problems.

See a vet to rule out other causes.

Is There Any Natural Remedy for Constipation?


Use 1-4 tsp of psyllium. It helps loosen up poos.

Is Constipation Dangerous for Cats?


Constipation is a problem if it persists as it impacts feces.

This can end up needing 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.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain upon touching the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea

Older cats (especially overweight) have a higher risk of constipation.

Can I Give My Cat a Laxative?

Speak with a vet.

They will help decide if a laxative is needed and what to use.

There’s stimulants and bulking agent laxatives.

Stimulants lubricate and soften feces. Makes them easier to pass.

Bulking agents increase size. Can help stimulate bowel motions.


Always call a vet first if you suspect constipation.

Since there’s a wide variety of causes, it’s hard to pin down yourself.

If they can’t find the cause (idiopathic constipation) try adjusting diet. Wet low residue cat food with added psyllium can help.

My top picks:

  1. Fancy Feast Creamy Delights | Best Overall
  2. Tiki Cat After Dark | Best Quality
  3. Wellness Core Tiny Tasters | Picky Cats
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I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.