You are cleaning out the litterbox and notice that your cat’s stool is small, dry, and hard. Your cat is probably constipated. The first treatment most people think of is Metamucil. It works for humans, so does it work for cats, too?
The short answer is that yes, Metamucil can work for cats. Keep reading for the details on safety, dosing, and more.
First, What Is Metamucil?
Metamucil is a fiber supplement that contains psyllium husk. Psyllium is passed through the digestive system and absorbs water.
It increases fecal mass, softens the stools, and stimulates contractions in the colon to help push stool out. Metamucil is safe to use in cats and it is readily available over the counter at drug stores, grocery stores, and superstores such as Walmart and Target.
There is an unflavored version that can be mixed with food.
Metamucil Dosage for Cats
The starting dose for cats is ¼ teaspoon once daily for cats under 8 pounds and ¼ teaspoon twice daily for cats eight pounds and over. If you don’t notice an improvement, you can increase the dose by 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon.
You should see an improvement in the stools within a few days if it is going to be effective. Metamucil is very safe in cats. If too much is given, cats may experience abdominal pain and/or diarrhea.
If you see these signs developing, reduce the dose or discontinue completely. Psyllium is also available in a capsule form.
The capsules may contain 500mg or 1000mg, so make sure you read the bottle carefully. The average cat over 8 pounds should receive 500mg per day. You can either give the capsule whole or open the capsule and mix it with food.
Cats under 8 pounds should receive 250mg psyllium per day. Since it is not available in this strength, you can open the capsule and mix approximately ½ of the powder in the capsule with food.
Is Metamucil Safe for Long-Term Use?
Fiber supplements such as psyllium and Metamucil don’t work for every cat and are not recommended for long term use. The increased bulk of the stool can lead to dehydration and can worsen constipation with time. Cats with chronic constipation usually have an underlying medical cause.
Possible medical causes include chronic kidney disease causing dehydration which leads to constipation, compression of the colon from other internal factors such as an enlarged bladder or prostate, enlarged lymph nodes, or trauma to the pelvic canal, a growth in the colon, or megacolon – a condition in which the colon no longer contracts to push stool out.
In all of these cases, long term use of fiber additives will make the condition worse.
Alternatives to Metamucil for Cats
MiraLAX is a good over-the-counter alternative to Metamucil or psyllium. The active ingredient in MiraLAX is polyethylene glycol 3350.
I know polyethylene glycol sounds scary, but it is a very safe product and is not readily absorbed into the bloodstream.
MiraLAX works as an osmotic diuretic, meaning it pulls fluid into the stool to soften it. There is a wide dose range – I usually recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon twice daily and gradually increasing it if needed with a maximum dose of 1 teaspoon twice daily.
If the dose is too high, your cat may develop diarrhea, nausea, or abdominal pain. MiraLAX comes either in an orange flavor or as a tasteless powder and can be mixed with your cat’s food for easy administration.
You can also mix it in water and syringe it into your cat’s mouth. MiraLAX should have a laxative effect within one to three days. If you have tried the over-the-counter remedies and your cat is still only passing small, dry, hard feces, a trip to your veterinarian is in order.
Veterinary Treatment of Constipation in Cats
Your vet may recommend abdominal x-rays to see how much stool is in the colon, determine if the colon is dilated (as in the case of megacolon) or if there is a physical obstruction causing constipation.
She may recommend blood tests to determine if there is an underlying cause of dehydration, such as kidney disease. She may recommend fluids to help rehydrate your cat and may possibly give a warm water enema. (Please note, I do not advise giving your cat an enema at home. Certain enemas contain phosphate which can kill cats and if an enema is not done appropriately, tears in the colon can occur).
Fiber supplements, such as Metamucil, are safe and easy to find. They can help relieve minor episodes of constipation in most cats. Don’t forget to make sure your cat is drinking enough water to prevent dehydration and contact your veterinarian if the condition does not improve within a few days.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much Metamucil can I give my cat for constipation?
If your cat is under 8 pounds, start with ¼ teaspoon once a day. If your cat is over 8 pounds, give ¼ teaspoon twice a day. Look for unflavored powder and mix with canned food. Cats eight pounds and over can receive 500mg per day. Cats under eight pounds can receive 250mg per day. Psyllium is usually available in 500mg and 1000mg capsules. I recommend to find the 500mg capsules. Open the capsules and mix the powder in the capsule with canned food. With smaller cats (under eight pounds) use your best judgment to mix in approximately ½ of a 500mg capsule with food.
What can you give your cat for constipation?
If your cat is constipated, the most important thing is to increase his or her water intake. Make sure there is fresh water and your cat is drinking it. Feed canned food, which has a higher content than dry food. You can also try over-the-counter treatments for humans, such as Metamucil, psyllium, or MiraLAX. Do not use stimulant laxatives, such as Bisacodyl, Senna, or Castor oil in a cat. If you are unsure if a product can be safely given, call your veterinarian.
What is good fiber for cats?
If you want to increase the fiber content for your cat, I recommend to start with the food. Over the counter weight loss foods tend to have higher fiber contents. There are also many prescription foods available through your veterinarian that have a higher fiber content. If you want to add fiber to treat constipation, Metamucil or psyllium can be used short term. Long term use of these supplements is not recommended as they can cause dehydration and make constipation worse over time.