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Constipation on raw?!

Izzy17

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When we got our first Sphynx, Izzy, we couldn't figure out why she constantly had diarrhea... until we switched her over to raw food which completely solved her issues.

We feed Carnivora...

We got our new kitten at Christmas, and switched her over to raw food within the month we got her. She was initially eating Llama which is very lean, as it is what Izzy prefers and what we had in our freezer.

She ended up constipated... and when she finally passed her stools, I guess it hurt because she stopped eating for several days and started to have diarrhea. We ended up at the vet who gave her medication to help with the gas/diarrhea and irritation in her stomach. Our vet also suggested we switch to a different protein as he thought it might be food related.

We put het back on Royal Canin Kitten wet food while she was on medication, until her poop reverted back to normal... She seemed to constantly be hungry. Whenever she was done with her can, she would run around us when we'd pick up the plate which is what she does when she's hungry and wants to be fed.

We then switched her back to raw, to Rabbit, which is a lot fattier. Everything seemed fine, until yesterday, when we noticed she seems to be constipated again :/ She gets this big round and hard belly which is what happened a month ago. She also had a little bit of blood on her but yesterday after she tried to poop (only a tiny hard ball came out)

I'll switch her back to Royal Canin kitten wet food for now, until this issue is resolved, but I was wondering if anyone here ever experience this issue? I'd prefer to keep her on raw, but I'm starting to think that even tho it was the best thing to happen to Izzy, it doesn't seem to be working for Nova. Which is too bad because she loves Raw... even on commercial food she tries to steal from Izzy's plate (raw).

I'm at a loss right now... She loves the raw and doesn't seem to be constantly hungry on it, but she gets constipated.... and she seems to be constantly hungry on commercial wet... and we can't feed her dry food as Izzy just rushes in and empty the bowls whenever there's dry food out, and it makes her sick and gives her diarrhea.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated!!

side note... I've tried adding psyllium husk and fortiflora to her food, and she refuses to eat it when it's mixed in the food... she's a picky princess! she does like pumpkin puree tho... maybe that could help?
 

Bailey21

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Do you know the calcium percentage in the raw you're feeding? Cats do best on an 80% muscle meat, 10% organ meat and 10% bone content (calcium). Perhaps shes getting too much bone-calcium in the diet causing her to be constipated?
 

Izzy17

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Does this help? It's the nutrition facts listed on their website

91270
91271
 

Sheldon13

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From what I know about raw, constipation is usually caused by there being too much bone by percentage, just as stated by @Bailey21

Do you have the ingredients list?


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Izzy17

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From what I know about raw, constipation is usually caused by there being too much bone by percentage, just as stated by @Bailey21

Do you have the ingredients list?



Ingredients: Finely ground whole Llama: meat, bones, heart, kidney, liver.

Ingredients: Finely ground whole rabbit: meat, bones, heart, kidney, liver.


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Izzy17

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Ingredients: Finely ground whole Llama: meat, bones, heart, kidney, liver.

Ingredients: Finely ground whole rabbit: meat, bones, heart, kidney, liver.
 

MollysMom

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You can try adding a bit of canned to her raw if need be to see how that goes. As long as it is grain free and not full of potatos, etc it should be fine. I mix canned and raw all the time to help mine eat her raw. Literally mashing them together. Try 25% canned, 75% raw to start with. Stay away from the psyllium, it will only make constipation worse without the water to help it ease everything along.
 

Sheldon13

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Ingredients: Finely ground whole Llama: meat, bones, heart, kidney, liver.

Ingredients: Finely ground whole rabbit: meat, bones, heart, kidney, liver.
That seems good to me. Are you adding any supplements to the ground raw?


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Condo commando

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@Izzy17 That diet seems ok in terms of CALCIUM and PHOSPHORUS. Let me clarify, there may or may not be any actual bone in it. Not all raw foods have bone; some use a calcium supplement (BITR is one of these). So again the important thing is to have a ratio of calcium to phosphorus that is within the recommended range. In this case the ratio is about 1.8 to 1 which is typical for raw foods. Cooked diets are more like 1.2 to 1. So now that's out of the way, I have to admit what I know about cat constipation comes from reading catinfo.org (Dr. Lisa Pierson's web site). She has a whole section on constipation. The following is cut and paste from her site.

Many people write to me stating that their cat is “constipated” simply because they are not passing feces every day. However, this is not necessarily a sign of constipation. Cats on a low residue (low fiber/low waste/highly digestible) diet will often not pass stool every day.

There is very little non-digestible matter contained in this diet. Therefore, the volume of feces will often be much less when compared to cats on high fiber or poorly digestible diets.

Signs of constipation can include:
  • straining without production of feces,
  • crying in the litter box and acting distressed,
  • diarrhea – yes, you read that correctly – sometimes diarrhea feces will leak around a hard piece of stool,
  • excessive licking of the anal area, and
  • defecating outside of the litter box can also be a sign of constipation but it can also be due to other (behavioral and/or medical) issues. These cats either associate the litter box with pain and develop a litter box aversion or they simply get discouraged and impatient when trying to defecate in the litter box and end up going elsewhere.
Make sure that you are not confusing constipation with urethral obstruction! A cat with a blocked urethra – which blocks urination – is in a tremendous amount of pain and their bladder can rupture, resulting in death within 24 hours. Seek immediate veterinary attention if your cat is not able to pass urine.

Note: Some cats – especially long-haired cats – end up with ‘hang on’ poop meaning that the bulk of the feces was passed but a long thread of hair is mixed in with the feces with one end still in the rectum resulting in the feces hanging from the anus. In these cases you may see poop outside of the litter box – wherever the poor cat managed to get the ‘hang’er on’er’ off – but this is not an issue of constipation. In these cases, look for a stringy tapered end to the fecal ‘log.’

If your cat is exhibiting any of the signs of constipation noted above, it is important to determine if he has any other medical problem(s) that may be causing or contributing to the constipation. For instance, kidney diseasecan cause dehydration which, in turn, can lead to constipation.

Intestinal disease is also common in cats and constipation can be a sign of an unhealthy intestinal tract.

The two treatments that will be discussed in this section are Miralax (or its generic equivalent) and soluble fiber (e.g., guar gum, pumpkin, and psyllium).
  • Miralax increases fecal water content without increasing bulk/diameter. It is a laxative (made for humans) that can be found at pharmacies and some grocery stores.
  • Soluble fiber increases fecal water content but also increases bulk. Soluble fiber (versus insoluble fiber) may also play a beneficial role in intestinal health since it is fermented to short chain fatty acids which nourish the cells of the colon and also promote healthy bacteria.
Both treatments can be used at the same time but I normally just start with Miralax. The dosage of each is determined on a case-by-case basis but I will discuss general starting doses below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is the normal consistency of feline feces when eating a species-appropriate diet?

With regard to the diet discussed on this webpage, as well as some low residue commercial canned and commercial raw diets, it is important to note that the feces of a cat eating a species-appropriate diet are often dry and crumbly which is not necessarily abnormal, or a problem, for most cats.

Cats eating a natural, species-appropriate diet do not produce soft, voluminous, stinky feces like so many people are used to seeing from their cats eating commercial diets.

raw-fed-fecal-consistanc-copy


This is a picture of feces from 2 separate bowel movements from my cats. In other words, an average bowel movement from my cats is half this volume – or even less. I crushed 2 of the fecal pieces to show how dry and crumbly it is. The feces from my cats also has very little odor.

That said, some cats do experience constipation when started on a species-appropriate diet (homemade, commercial raw, or canned) and it needs to be addressed.

The reason(s) for the constipation may be different for each cat but one cause may be the addition of too much bone to the diet.

Note that when I use chicken thighs, I remove ~30% of the bones.

Wings, necks and backs are all parts of the chicken with a very high bone-to-meat ratio. These parts of the chicken should never be used as the sole component of the diet. I suspect that these body parts make up a large percentage of some of the commercial raw diets since they are cheapand are part of the ‘discards’ from the human-targeted market.

Another reason that cats may experience constipation from this type of diet is because the fecal ‘logs’ are smaller in diameter than those produced from higher residue commercial diets and the cat’s gut tract is not accustomed to dealing with the difference in bulk.

Left: Feces produced from a low residue homemade diet Right: Feces produced from a canned food diet
Left: Feces produced from a low residue homemade diet
Right: Feces produced from a canned food diet
Take my word for it….the one on the left = very little odor
The one on the right = very stinky (fiber is fermented into some very smelly gases)
Notice the larger diameter of the feces on the right.

The normal body is stimulated to defecate when the colon is distended/full. While the feces on the left is not abnormal and is very easily passed by most cats, some cats’ colon may not be ‘triggered’ with only mild distension after spending years exposed to diets that produce bulkier feces.

The longer the feces sit in the colon, the more water is pulled from it (since the colon’s job is to save water for the body) and the drier the feces become, leading to constipation in some cats.

There are two main issues to consider:

  • fecal water content – is it too dry – for the specific patient? Take a paper towel and squeeze the poop. Is it firm? Soft? Dry and crumbly?
  • fecal diameter – is it too skinny, possibly not triggering defecation in some cats?
It is important to determine the answers to the above questions because constipation is not a ‘one treatment fits all‘ situation.

Treating constipation involves trial and error and the condition often benefits from a combination of treatments as discussed further below.

Generally speaking, all constipated cats will benefit from an increase in fecal water content but the main question is: Do we want to increase fecal bulk(increase in diameter) with a soluble fiber?

In most cases, we don’t want to do that – at least not significantly. However, as noted above, there is evidence to show that soluble fiber (a bulking agent) has other beneficial effects on the colon.

Therefore, I occasionally add a small amount of soluble fiber into the diet, in addition to using Miralax for some constipated patients.

In the ‘old days,’ megacolon cats (cats with abnormally large colons with compromised motility) were routinely treated with high fiber diets. Unfortunately, many of these cats had their constipation worsen because their compromised colon could not handle the bulky stool.

But as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details” or, in this case, the dosage. While too much fiber (or the wrong type of fiber – INsoluble vs soluble) may be detrimental, a lower dosage of the correct type of fiber (soluble) may be beneficial. This is true for megacolon cases as well as the average cat with a reasonably healthy gut tract experiencing a bout of constipation.

When treating constipation in cats, monitor the diameter of the feces, as well as the moisture content to determine which treatment – and dosage – works best for your cat.

To repeat: We are not looking to create a large, soft, stinky poop by using too much fiber!

Visual example:

I recently added a bit of guar gum (soluble fiber) to my cats’ food. Note that the first part of the stool (the dark part) is fiber-free and is firm and dry – just like what would be found coming out of a wild cat eating a natural diet.

The firm stool is followed by the guar gum stool which is ~3/4″ – 7/8″ in diameter and is very soft. This is not what we want for the average cat.

poopfiber-nofibercomparison


Starting dosages for Miralax and soluble fiber:
  • Miralax (or its generic equivalent): Again, it increases fecal water content without adding bulk to the stool. Most feline veterinary practitioners like using Miralax much better than lactulose which also adds water but not bulk. Miralax is tasteless and can be mixed with the food. This is much better than trying to get sweet, sticky lactulose into a cat!
Start with 1/8 tsp once or twice-daily mixed into the food and increase from there to get the desired fecal consistency. Most cats do well on no more than 1/4 tsp twice-daily but it is safe to go higher. If your cat’s stools are too loose, lower the dosage.
  • Soluble fiber such as guar gum: Start with 1/16 tsp once or twice-daily (use one half of a 1/8 tsp measuring spoon) – add extra water (1-2 tablespoons) to the meal or an amount just short of your cat refusing to eat the food. Fiber absorbs water like a sponge and then swells thereby adding bulk to the feces. Therefore, we want to add extra water to the food.
You can purchase guar gum from Whole Foods Market or online here.

Many people use pumpkin (canned – plain….not pumpkin pie filling with added sugar and spices) but some cats do not like it. I prefer guar gum because it is more convenient and is not an unnecessary source of carbohydrates for our carnivores. It lasts forever (it is not perishable) and most cats readily eat it when mixed into their food. If you want to try pumpkin, use 1/2 – 1 teaspoon 2-3 times per day mixed into their food. Some people freeze the pumpkin in ice cube trays for convenience.

Psyllium husk powder is also an option. Start with 1/4 tsp once or twice daily and increase or decrease from there as needed.

All of the above treatments are ‘dosed to desired effect.’

To repeat: The “effects” being monitored are:
  • relief from clinical signs of constipation
  • fecal water content
  • fecal diameter
Keep in mind that cats are not designed to handle a lot of fiber in their intestinal tract. The diet of a wild cat is very low in fiber. Horses and cows, on the other hand, are designed to eat very high fiber diets.

It is ok to add a little fiber to your cat’s food but we don’t want his poop looking like it came out of a St. Bernard!

There is one drawback to using fiber….you will no longer be able to brag that your cat’s poop does not have any odor. The feces of a cat fed the recipe discussed on this webpage (without fiber) has very little odor but soluble fiber is fermented into some pretty stinky gases by the bacteria in the colon.
 
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MelissaAlice

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It was noted in the above post that pumpkin can be added to the raw diet .. this is my go too trick.
I feed raw with a spoonful of pumpkin mixed into their morning meal and I don't have any issues. (except when my little one sneaks things she shouldn't)
 

Condo commando

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Yeah pumpkin can be added but I wouldn't start there.

The first thing that was noted by Dr. Pierson is that cats fed raw food have smaller poop than cats that eat traditional foods. This is because of the amount of fiber in the food. She says some raw fed cats don't even go every day. It doesn't mean they're constipated. There's just less bulk to make them want to go. I just wanted to point this out.

So then assuming your cat really is constipated, there are 2 main things to look for:
  • fecal water content – is it too dry – for the specific patient? Take a paper towel and squeeze the poop. Is it firm? Soft? Dry and crumbly?
  • fecal diameter [or bulk] – is it too skinny, possibly not triggering defecation in some cats?
Dr. Pierson goes on to say that MOST cats benefit from more water content but ONLY A FEW cats benefit from more bulk. So without knowing anything else, if I had to take a shot in the dark I would start by adding water. Dr. Pierson uses Miralax for this. It's a laxative. Laxatives increase the amount of water in the bowels. They don't increase bulk.

Hopefully Nova will go poo at least once after Miralax and eating raw food so you can see the diameter of the poo. Compare it to the diameter of poo after eating canned or kibble food. If Nova's poo after eating raw food appears to be too skinny, you could try pumpkin, guar gum or psyllium husk. These are NOT laxatives. They are soluble fibers; they would make the poo bulkier. There's nothing wrong with using them but be careful that you don't add to much too fast.

Again, I would try Miralax first. Then see if Nova goes after the Miralax and eating raw food so you can compare the bulk of the poo. If the diameter is a lot less from raw food, then I would add one of the 3 soluble fibers to bulk things up a little. Hope this makes sense.
 
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Xandria

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My concern is the big hard belly and blood in that stool. Even on a raw diet where they may not poop every day, hard belly and blood is not good. Sounds almost like gas. She could have IBS, but usually raw helps with that. There could be a protein allergy at play here as well.

I would definitely have the full battery of blood tests done on your princess to see what's up. It may be that you'll have to try different diets and proteins. But I'd start with tests first to rule out IBS, kidney, etc. issues.

Not all Sphynx are the same. My boy has a VERY sensitive tummy and only eats specific proteins. My girl will eat anything (literally) and is just fine as long as she stays out of my socks.

Keep us posted.
 

Izzy17

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We brought her to the vet who did not find any medical issues... I also have another Sphynx on raw so I’ve seen the difference between poop on commercial vs poop on raw... The vet found that she had lots of gas in her tummy, which he believes is caused by her food. She was back on commercial food for the last 5 days, with pumpkin puree and a little fortiflora, and her poop and belly went back to normal, just super stinky... She ate some raw food today, mixed with her canned food, and she just had diarrhea... could be too much pumpkin.. or she got super stressed out because of the bath (she hates it) she pooped after her bath.. I’ll keep giving her raw with less pumpkin in the coming week to see if it gets better... fingers crossed
 

Condo commando

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Good luck. I feed rabbit and never had a problem with it. It doesn't make any sense to me.

One last thing you could try.....I don't know if you have access to a different brand of raw food, in case there's some innocuous thing about the Carnivora brand that doesn't sit well with her. Or even if you get Carnivora again you could try buying it in a different place just in case the particular batch you bought from had something wrong with it. I know your other cat is fine on it, but maybe the kitten's immune system isn't as robust yet and "if" there's a slight problem she has a strong reaction to it. Trying to think outside the box.
 

Izzy17

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I have bought both the llama and rabbit from two different stores in the last couple of months.. I do have Better in the Raw that I havent tried yet... Maybe I’ll give it a try see if she digests it better.. I just dont want to try too many new things really quickly as I know change in food can cause diarrhea too
 

Condo commando

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I have bought both the llama and rabbit from two different stores in the last couple of months.. I do have Better in the Raw that I havent tried yet... Maybe I’ll give it a try see if she digests it better.. I just dont want to try too many new things really quickly as I know change in food can cause diarrhea too
Yup fair point
 
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