Original Question: I’m a high school friend of your dad’s Clayton. Luna came from the SPCA with Royal Canin food. Her stool is dry, I tried adding a little oil but she wouldn’t eat it. Any suggestions? Also, how do I get her to use a scratching post? Thank you. - Carol Ann
Hi Carol Ann,
I appreciate you reaching out. I hope you’re doing well.
Dry stool can occur for a few different reasons. It’s the last part of the digestive tract, known as the colon, which absorbs moisture from the feces. The longer the feces stay in that location, the dryer it becomes. Supplementing the diet with oil will not ensure that the feces become more moist or lubricated. Instead, it would be ideal to try and determine the cause of this symptom.
If your cat is acting normal and appears healthy, you may not want to run off to the veterinarian for expensive diagnostics if this condition is not worsening. You could try a few different remedies to see if the issue improves. If there is an ingredient in the diet that is not being well digested, it could cause the transit of the feces to slow down. It could even create some inflammation within the gut which could interfere with proper digestion. It would be difficult to confirm this as it is usually explored by initiating different diet trials. However, you could consider starting a trial on a different diet with a different primary protein and carbohydrate and see if the issue improves. If you attempt this, I would change the diet very slowly over the course of 7-14 days and monitor the stool and your cat for any symptoms that suggest the diet is not ideal, such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, poor hair coat, lethargy, etc. It’s possible that a new diet with a different protein, for instance, could resolve an impaired digestive issue in your cat if it exists.
There are medical reasons that the feces can be dry as well. If the body has lower fluid levels and is dehydrated, then more water will be drawn out of the feces to try and rehydrate. This can occur when a cat has conditions that contribute to dehydration such as diabetes, kidney disease or any condition that can create dehydration in the body. For this reason, if the condition doesn’t resolve, I would recommend that you have a routine physical examination, consultation and wellness blood work and urine testing performed with your veterinarian.
If no conditions are found and a diet sensitivity is not discovered, it is possible that your cat has primary constipation. This is not uncommon in cats and can be a frustrating condition to manage over time. I would recommend that you allow your regular veterinarian to make the diagnosis before considering this as a confirmed condition. If you and your veterinarian come to this conclusion, here is a thorough review of the treatment strategies for primary constipation:
1/8th to 1/4 of a tsp of Miralax added to each meal is a typical dose recommended by veterinary specialists.
The dose of Metamucil is 1-4 teaspoons daily. You’ll want to start with the low dose and work you’re way up while monitoring the consistency of the stools. You want them to become less hard but not diarrheic.
I hope some of this information helps. Good luck.
Dr Clayton Greenway