Best Cat Food for Constipation

The best cat food for constipation promotes a healthy stool consistency and supports the digestive system.

Visualize your cat’s digestive system. It’s more than a tube running from mouth to anus—it’s a complex system, like a municipal sewage processing plant. When your cat is constipated, we want to both do the plumbing work—clearing the pipe—but we must also cooperate with the processing plant’s workers and infrastructure.

At a Glance: Best Cat Food for Constipation To Buy

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Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

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Top Pick

Weruva Cats in the Kitchen
  • Moisture-rich canned food ideal for constipated cats
  • Made with pumpkin
  • Price: ~$0.32/Oz
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Runner Up

Nulo Grain Free
  • Hydrating canned food
  • Popular among cats with digestive issues
  • Price: ~$0.31/Oz
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Budget Pick

Wellness CORE Natural
  • Contains chicory root as a prebiotic
  • Contains ground flaxseed for fiber
  • Price: ~$0.4/Oz
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Before you choose the best cat food for constipation, you need an understanding of the digestive system and how motility issues begin.

The GI tract is governed by the enteric nervous system, populated by billions of bacteria, contains a maze of intestines several feet long, connects to the rest of the body via the capillary transit routes, and contains many other intricate structures. These parts cooperate to extract nourishment from food and move the remaining waste out of your cat’s body.

When waste arrives in the large intestine, it has a sludgy consistency. It’s the colon’s job to draw water out of this chyme, turning the sludge to stool.

Once the waste firms up, it should move down the small intestine and signal to the central nervous system that it’s time to squat in the litter box and go.

But if there’s anything wrong—if the process went too slowly, the body absorbed too much water, or there’s something blocking the way, the stool won’t move out smoothly.

Stool turns to stone and bowel movements become increasingly frustrating. All the while, the digestive system continues merrily on, creating more waste to fill up the small intestine and double your cat’s discomfort.

Causes of Constipation In Cats

Dehydration

Although well-hydrated cats can be constipated, dehydration is a contributing factor in feline constipation.

Jean Hofve, DVM, says that “In more than 18 years of experience as a feline veterinarian, I have not personally seen constipation problems in cats who do not eat dry food.”

Consider that dry food is 10-12% moisture and that your cat’s natural prey is at least 70% water. Combined with your cat’s low thirst drive, this is a recipe for chronic dehydration and all its ripple effects throughout the body, including constipation.

Click here for our list of the best wet cat food.

Inadequate Fiber Intake

You might feel that cats don’t require fiber—after all, cats are obligate carnivores and we’re most familiar with fiber as the indigestible component of plants.

Remember that cats consume herbivorous prey. Each of these animals contains a pocket of partially-digested plant matter in their own tiny GI tract. And while we think of natural prey as an ultra-efficient form of nutrition for cats, they’re not completely digestible. They have hair, skin, teeth, and claws.

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Commercially-sold diets include substitutes for these natural sources of fiber and indigestible matter, but raw cat food or homemade diets seldom do. By missing these subtle details, we skip an essential part of the feline digestive process.

 FelineConstipation.org

Credit: FelineConstipation.org

There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is primarily used in the treatment of constipation as a bulking agent.

Soluble fiber is a prebiotic, fueling probiotic activity in the gut. As gut bacteria consumes the indigestible matter in the intestine, short chain fatty acids are produced as by-products, creating a slightly acidic environment and helping the stool to retain water.

Fiber supplements for cats:

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Psyllium husks
  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flaxseeds
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Green beans
  • Cat grass
  • Catnip

Obesity or Inactivity

When your cat exercises—playing, walking, hunting, and jumping—the movement stimulates rhythmic intestinal contractions, which help propel waste towards the rectum. If your cat is overweight and inactive, they experience less of these contractions and waste tends to build up in the intestine.

Check out our list of the best cat food for overweight cats.

Physical Obstructions

Remember that the small intestine is a convoluted tube designed to move sludge. Solid objects can block the intestinal tract and obstruct the flow of waste. These include tumors, hairballs, twists in the intestine, or ingested foreign bodies.

Litter Box Avoidance

Like litter box martyrs, some cats hold in their bowel movements in protest against a dirty litter box or an uncomfortable new litter. What starts out as a temporary protest can become a real health issue when the stool remains in the large intestine for too long.

If your cat has litter box problems, these articles may help:

Other Problems

Constipation may stem from inflammatory bowel disease, stress, reactions to pharmaceutical drugs, joint problems that make squatting uncomfortable, or nerve damage that impedes their ability to pass waste. Observe your cat’s symptoms and behavior closely and bring these observations to your vet’s office.

Check out our list of the best cat food for IBD.

Signs that your cat is constipated:

  • Their bowel movements are infrequent – Cats should have one or two bowel movements every day. Constipated cats may move their bowels 3-4 times per week. Their waste is small, dry, and hard.
  • They’re straining in the litter box – Constipation is sometimes characterized by straining and pain in the litter box.
  • They aren’t passing any stool at all – Some constipated cats don’t pass any stool for 2 days or more. If your cat is experiencing acute constipation and cannot pass any stool, please bring them to the veterinarian.

Top 5 Best Cat Foods for Constipation

The following cat foods are both moisture-rich and encourage water retention in the stool, targeting the most common causes of constipation.

#1 Weruva Cats in the Kitchen Funk In The Trunk Chicken in Pumpkin Consomme Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken (Boneless, Skinless, White Breast), Tuna, Pumpkin, Sunflower Seed Oil

While any dietary change can have a positive effect on constipation, this food has a particularly good reputation. One reviewer said that it cleared their elderly cat’s constipation after 2 weeks of blockage.

It’s a chicken-based canned food that features pumpkin, which is almost universally recommended for cats with constipation.

It contains locust bean gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum as binders. Gums are controversial, so let’s discuss the pros and cons of these inclusions in your cat’s food.

Fiber-rich guar gum is extracted from guar beans and has widespread use as a laxative. Some people give it directly to their constipated cats. Although it’s a plant ingredient and has little nutrient value for cats, it appears to be completely safe.

Xanthan gum, however, should be approached with caution. As a product of simple sugar fermentation, xanthan gum may carry traces of the fermentation medium. If your cat has allergies to the corn, soy, wheat, or dairy used to create the xanthan gum, they may have an adverse reaction to the gum.

Locust bean gum, like guar gum, isn’t associated with any negative effects in cats. It’s extracted from the seeds of the carob tree and may have benefits for digestive health.

Ingredients:

Chicken Broth, Chicken (Boneless, Skinless, White Breast), Tuna, Pumpkin, Sunflower Seed Oil, Locust Bean Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Fish Oil, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vita­min B1), Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein10% Min
Crude Fat1.6% Min
Crude Fiber0.5% Max
Moisture85% Max

Pros:

  • Moisture-rich canned food ideal for constipated cats
  • Made with pumpkin
  • Contains fiber from guar gum

Cons:

  • If your cat prefers pate-style canned food, they might not like the texture

#2 Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food Review

ulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat & Kitten Food

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First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Turkey Broth, Tuna

While it’s unclear if added probiotics help with constipation, this food contains the patented BC30 probiotic, which contributes to the natural bacteria population in your cat’s gut. You can read more about the effects of probiotic for cats here

The food is meat-based with multiple sources of animal protein and contains guar gum and agar-agar as binders. These fibrous binders can help to reduce constipation.

Along with several other trace amounts of fruits and vegetables, the food contains pumpkin, which can help to encourage bowel movement in constipated cats.

Ingredients:

Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Turkey Broth, Tuna, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Agar Agar, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Sodium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein11% Min
Crude Fat6.5% Min
Crude Fiber0.75% Max
Moisture78% Max

Pros:

  • Hydrating canned food
  • Popular among cats with digestive issues
  • Contains pumpkin
  • Made with guar gum

Cons:

  • Some reviewers say their cats disliked the food

#3 Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Turkey & Duck Pate Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Pork Liver, Turkey Broth, Duck, Cranberries

This food has the foundations of a good meal for your cat. It’s meat-based and moisture-rich to promote healthy bowel function. While it contains more plant matter than some other canned foods and might not be a great choice for everyday feeding, this food contains several additions that can benefit constipated cats.

It’s made with multiple high-fiber binders, along with ground flaxseed, another fiber-rich ingredient that can increase gut motility. It also includes chicory root extract, which is a prebiotic that encourages probiotic activity.

Ingredients:

Turkey, Pork Liver, Turkey Broth, Duck, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Ground Flaxseed, Cranberries, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Cobalt Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Niacin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Biotin, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein12% Min
Crude Fat8% Min
Crude Fiber1% Max
Moisture78% Max

Pros:

  • Contains chicory root as a prebiotic
  • Contains guar gum
  • Contains ground flaxseed for fiber
  • Primarily made from nourishing meat ingredients

Cons:

  • Contains more plant ingredients than some other cat foods

#4 Lotus Duck Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

Lotus Duck Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Broth, Pork Liver, White Fish, Peas

While this food’s variety of plant ingredients might make it a less-than-ideal choice for most cats, it has several benefits for those suffering from constipation.

It’s made with whole flaxseed and olive oil, both of which are commonly-recommended food additives for constipated cats.

The food also includes several other ingredients that you might not find in other cat foods, like New Zealand Green Mussel for glucosamine and chondroitin and salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ingredients:

Duck, Duck Broth, Pork Liver, Pork Liver Broth, White Fish, Peas, Natural Flavor, Agar Agar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Whole Flaxseed, New Zealand Green Mussel, Asparagus, Clams, Blueberries, Cranberries, Carrots, Eggs, Olive Oil, Salmon Oil, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Sulfate, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Betaine, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, etc…

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein9% Min
Crude Fat4% Min
Crude Fiber0.75% Max
Moisture78% Max

Pros:

  • Moisture-rich food is ideal for constipated cats
  • Contains olive oil for constipation
  • Made with fiber-rich flaxseed

Cons:

  • Contains numerous fruits and vegetables

#5 Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food Review

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First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Egg Whites, Spinach

Essentially, this is a high-moisture, meat-based cat food. It highlights grain-free and contains a variety of ingredients that can benefit your constipated cat.

These include ground flaxseed, guar gum, and a trace amount of pumpkin, all of which are fiber-rich and can help to promote gut motility.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Peas, Pea Protein, Montmorillonite Clay, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein11.5% Min
Crude Fat7% Min
Crude Fiber2% Max
Moisture76% Max

Pros:

  • Hydrating canned food
  • Made with fiber-rich ground flaxseed
  • Contains pumpkin

Cons:

  • A plant-heavy recipe not ideal for long-term feeding

About the author


Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.