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Does Massage Help Constipation in Cats? What You Should Know!

Having a constipated cat is no fun. Not only is it uncomfortable for your feline, but it can also cause serious issues for their long-term health. Therefore, it makes sense to try to cure your cat’s constipation as quickly as possible.

There are plenty of “treatments” out there on the internet that claim to help your feline overcome this issue. However, even seemingly harmless treatments (like a herbal enema) can cause serious side effects. For this reason, we do not recommend trying to alleviate a cat’s constipation without working alongside a vet. After all, even very simple things like massages can backfire.

Furthermore, constipation in cats is often caused by “fixable” things. For instance, cats often do not like using a dirty bathroom. Therefore, they may dial back their visits to their litterbox if it is dirty. They may also have water bowl preferences—some cats may prefer wide bowls that aren’t used by other felines. Otherwise, they may not drink as much, which can lead to constipation.

Pain in the pelvis or spine can make using the litterbox downright painful. Household stress and noise can send a cat hiding far away from their litterbox. Other cats may stalk the litterbox, making it difficult for one cat to use it.

However, when you work alongside a vet, there may be several circumstances when using massage might be helpful. With that said, you’ll need to speak to your vet to find out if this is a suitable treatment for your feline.

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Treatments for Constipation in Cats

There are several ways that constipation in cats can be treated. Enemas, and stool softeners are just a few, but the specific treatment depends on how long your cat has been constipated, and other medical issues they may have.

While treatment is sometimes complicated, not treating it can cause serious issues. Eventually, constipation can lead to megacolon (which occurs when the colon gets stretched out) and long-term consequences. Therefore, treating constipation before it gets out of hand is important. But treatment can be complex.

cat poop in litterbox
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Preferably, lifestyle choices should be considered first. If a cat isn’t defecating because it is dehydrated, increasing water intake (and likely switching to wet food) may be important steps. Moving the litterbox location or getting more litterboxes can also be vital in stress-induced constipation. A thorough workup should be done to determine the underlying issue.

Usually, bloodwork and other diagnostic tests are also undergone to help ensure that there isn’t an underlying physical reason the cat is uncomfortable. Sometimes, even unrelated pain can make the cat avoid the bathroom.

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Neuromodulation can be dangerous, but there are several types of neuromodulations—many of which are noninvasive, like massage. Other types of neuromodulations also exist, such as acupuncture. Acupuncture works by stimulating nerves that affect constipation. Therefore, this may help get a cat’s system going again. Furthermore, acupuncture can also help reduce pain in some areas, which can in turn make a cat less likely to avoid the bathroom.

Domestic cat lying on owner's lap
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

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Abdominal Massage

Swedish massage was first developed for people. However, research has acknowledged its usefulness in animals and many vets are now utilizing it for their patients. This sort of massage can decrease a cat’s risk for chronic constipation. While it may need to be done more than once, the idea is that once things start moving again, they should continue to move normally.

If your cat is a good candidate for these massages, your vet can teach you several options for massaging your feline at home to keep their treatment going.

These methods are generally quite safe and they are much less likely to backfire than other methods. For instance, surgery is utilized for some constipated clients, but massage is an easier option that should preferably be used first.

The main reason that pet owners shouldn’t try to use this method without first seeing a vet is the possibility of an underlying issue. Cats with back problems, intestinal issues, and similar disorders may become constipated. However, you don’t just need to treat constipation. You need to treat the underlying issue, too.

owner calming his cat
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Final Thoughts

Massage can be effective in felines. It stimulates the nerves that surround the intestines, which let a cat know when it is time to use the bathroom. Therefore, in cats where this isn’t happening, stimulating the intestines can be helpful. This method is even used in people with constipation.

However, there are lots of underlying issues that may cause constipation—and massage isn’t going to fix any of these. Sometimes, these require lifestyle changes. Other times, there may be physical issues going on. Therefore, we highly recommend speaking to your vet before treating at home.

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Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock