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Does Grain-Free Cat Food Cause Constipation

Does grain-free cat food cause constipation

Keeping your cat healthy is of prime importance for any cat owner. Understandably, if you love and care for your feline, you would worry when you see your cat in pain. Cat constipation is one of the mild health issues that could lead to something more severe. How to relieve constipation in cats? How to prevent it? And does grain-free cat food cause constipation?

These are some of the many questions every cat owner has, so we have decided to give you a helping hand. Therefore, read about symptoms, causes, treatment, and some tips and remedies for cat constipation.

Table of Contents

Identify the Symptoms of Constipation in Cats

Rare or infrequent stools characterize the first sign that your cat suffers from constipation. Healthy cat poops every 24-36 hours. Hence, if you notice it’s been longer than that and she hasn’t relieved herself, it can be a clear sign of constipation. On the other hand, she might have dry and hard stools, another sign of constipation. Sometimes you can even see poops outside their litter box, and this means that the cat has discomfort, which causes her to leave the box before she’s finished.

Another symptom of constipation can be crying or straining while using the litter box. This can be alarming and might mean the cat suffers from urinary tract issues. If this happens, you’d better visit the vet to check this. Constipation can be related to other health conditions, and other symptoms might appear. Pay attention if you notice a loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, peeing more, drinking more or less water, and even hiding. These symptoms all mean that you should definitely call the vet.

does grain-free cat food cause constipation

Does Grain-Free Cat Food Cause Constipation?

Constipation in cats, the same as it is in humans, is closely related to food and diet. Very often, dehydration can cause this condition, and some mild diet changes can help. You probably wonder if grain-free cat food causes constipation, but the answer is no. Conversely, grain-free cat food rich in protein and easily digestible ingredients is good for your cat.

Normally, if the stool is not soft or moist, it can’t move properly in the intestines. However, this can happen due to many issues, such as allergies, stress and anxiety,  inflammatory bowel disease, or even cancer. Other reasons for constipation can be obesity, anal gland issues, or some chronic diseases. Here, we count kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism.

If your vet rules out any of these chronic diseases or other conditions, your cat should get some treatment for instant relief, usually including cat fluids or an enema. However, if your cat is suffering from long-term constipation or obstipation, this can mean that they have a megacolon. Megacolon is an abnormally enlarged intestine caused by a defect in muscle strength.

Does grain-free cat food cause constipation

Pros and Cons of Grain-Free Cat Food

Let’s look into the pros and cons of grain-free cat food to understand its impact on feline health better. This is crucial for pet owners thinking of grain-free diets for their cats, ensuring they make informed decisions based on a detailed evaluation of benefits and potential downsides.

Pros of Grain-Free Cat Food

  • Allergy and Sensitivity Reduction – Grain-free cat food is often chosen for pets with specific grain allergies or sensitivities. Grains such as wheat, corn, and soy can trigger allergic reactions in some cats, leading to skin irritation, digestive upset, and other health issues. By eliminating these grains, owners can provide a less likely diet to cause these reactions.
  • Higher Protein Content – Many grain-free cat foods emphasize high protein content, aligning more closely with a cat’s natural carnivorous diet. Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, overall growth, and energy. These diets often replace grains with meat or fish as primary ingredients, potentially offering a richer source of animal-based protein that benefits a cat’s health.
  • Weight Management – Grain-free diets might contribute to better weight management for some cats. With a focus on proteins and lowering carbohydrates, grain-free foods can help maintain a healthier weight, reducing the risk of obesity and related health issues, such as diabetes and joint problems.

Cons of Grain-Free Cat Food

  • Nutritional Imbalances – One of the main concerns with grain-free diets is the risk of nutritional imbalances. Grains are a source of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Removing them from the diet without adequate substitutes can lead to deficiencies, particularly if the grain-free food is not well-formulated. 
  • High in Calories and Fat – While grain-free cat food can offer higher protein content, it can also be higher in calories and fats. This is because, in some products, grains are replaced with other high-calorie ingredients to maintain the food’s texture and flavor. If not carefully managed, this can lead to unintended weight gain rather than assisting in weight control.
  • Cost – Grain-free cat foods are often more expensive than their grain-inclusive counterparts. The higher cost is due to the inclusion of more meat-based ingredients, which are typically pricier. For pet owners on a budget, this can make grain-free options less accessible.

How to Treat Constipation in Cats? Tips and Home Remedies

Once you are sure that your cat doesn’t suffer from any of the chronic diseases we mentioned, here are some tips on giving your cat instant relief. The first thing to do is to get the cat to drink more water. Some cats enjoy having water and do this often. However, some do not have this habit. For the latter, hydrate them by giving them wet food. This usually does the trick.

Speaking of your cat’s diet, you should change the protein source because this will reduce inflammation and cause the intestines to function properly. This is important, as well as to avoid cat allergies. And most importantly, control your cat’s weight. Obesity is one of the causes of constipation in cats, so make sure your cat doesn’t eat too much. Encourage her to be more active, get cat trees some toys, and avoid any unnecessary stressful situations.

Another thing to consider is getting some products and medications for constipation. Consult the vet before giving your cat anything, but some of the most commonly used laxatives are Miralax (PEG 3350) or Colace. Whatever you do, you should always monitor your cat’s behavior and determine what would work best for her.


Can grain-free cat food be high in fiber?

Yes, grain-free cat food can still be high in fiber despite lacking traditional grains. Manufacturers often incorporate alternative sources of fiber, such as peas, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, into grain-free formulas. When selecting a grain-free diet, it’s important to check the label for these ingredients to ensure your cat receives good fiber for healthy digestion.

How can I tell if my cat is constipated?

Signs of constipation in cats include irregular or absent bowel movements, difficulty or straining while trying to defecate, hard or dry stool, and noticeable discomfort or vocalization when attempting to use the litter box. In severe cases, constipated cats may become lethargic, lose their appetite, or exhibit signs of abdominal pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian, as constipation can indicate more serious underlying health issues.

Are there any grain-free wet foods that help with constipation?

Yes, grain-free wet foods are specifically formulated to help prevent and relieve constipation in cats. Wet food naturally contains more moisture than dry food, which can help maintain proper hydration and support healthy bowel movements. Look for grain-free wet foods with high moisture levels and fiber-rich ingredients like pumpkin or various forms of dietary fiber.

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