More poop please!

My cat is healthy and eats well, but she only poops about twice a week instead of every day (like recommended online), and I often have to massage her belly to stimulate bowel movement. She doesn’t cry or appear in pain while pooping, and my vet says she’s healthy. Should I be worried?
By Dr. Tai Yesun
Published on Thursday, 10 March 2016

An average cat (adult) defecates once every 24 to 36 hours, so your furkid should be monitored daily and measures should be taken to prevent progression to severe constipation or obstipation. Sometimes cats have difficulty pooping when the stool is too large or hard, making it hard to move through the colon. Signs of constipation include visible straining in the litter box, little or no poop, and hard and/or dry poop. The possible causes of constipation are dehydration, gastrointestinal motility problems, painful defecation, orthopaedic or neurologic conditions, obstruction of the colon caused by foreign objects, tumour, and hernia.

The most common cause, however, is inadequate fluid intake, which is usually due to a dry food diet. Cats are designed to get most of their fluids from their food. The natural prey of cats contain about 75 percent water, while cats fed exclusively with dry food are getting only 10 to 12 percent of their moisture requirements. In contrast to dogs and other animals, cats usually don’t make up the difference by drinking more water, resulting in chronic dehydration.In this case, the constipation is best treated by a slow transition to an appropriate moisture-rich diet, an increase in daily water intake, adequate exercise, and the addition of appropriate supplements and medications that help to resolve constipation. Water intake can be increased by adding water to food and flavouring their water with liquid from wet canned food. Some cats drink more from pet water fountains. This transition can take weeks or even months, so on your part, make sure to leave enough water bowls around the house. For all you know, your cat may just be too lazy to walk if the water dish is too far. Some cats are also fussy about the cleanliness of their “toilet”, so you can try putting more litter boxes around to encourage pooping.

Here are some supplements and food that help encourage defecation:

Fibre
A pinch of psyllium, coconut fibre, canned or boiled pumpkin, ground acacia seeds, or ground flax seed can be given at each meal.

Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a mild natural laxative. Its juice can be added to canned food.

Seaweed
Brown or red seaweed is rich in fibre and mucilaginous substances that ease bowel movement.