Cat Enema: How to Give at Home for Constipation, Side Effects & More

Cat enema for constipation
You can help a constipated cat by giving her enema at home.

Constipation in pets is one of the most unpleasant experiences for them. At times, normal remedies may not work thus necessitating the use of stronger and more effective solutions.

Among the strongest remedies for constipation in cats is enema, whether homemade or one you can buy over the counter such as Feline Pet-Ema.

What are the uses of enema in cats?

Cat enema is used in relieving constipation in cats. When using this remedy, fluids are forced into the rectum of your cat using a syringe through the anus. While it sounds nasty, it is one of the most effective methods of doing away with constipation in cats.

This remedy is only to be used when the constipation is severe and chronic. It is recommended that this remedy be only used after the other remedies have failed to help your cat.

Cats are very private pets and you will not easily see them going to the “loo”. However, if you don’t see any poop or urine in their litter box for about a day, it is a sign of constipation. Also, if the cat cries out when trying to defecate you will know it is constipated.

The other symptoms of constipation in cats include:

  • Vomiting undigested food or foam
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • A hard lump in the abdomen.

Simple constipation can be easily dealt with. However, blockage of the digestive tract is a fatal issue which will require the quick action of the vet.

By the time the vet decides to use cat enema on your cat, the case is either dire or other medicines would have failed to work.

Can I give my cat an enema at home?

The signs of constipation in cats can be easily confused with those of a urinary tract infection. You will thus need the expertise of a veterinarian officer to know if the symptoms expressed are those of constipation or a UTI.

After the vet has ascertained that it is indeed constipation that is troubling your cat, and that other remedies have failed, you can ask for the proper directions to administer cat enema at home.

It should be known that the procedure of giving a cat enema is not an easy one unless you have a very docile cat as it causes some discomfort to your pet.

One of the most preferred enema options is soapy water. However, this solution has slowly fallen out of favor with pet owners and vet officers alike going for other solutions that yield better results and work faster. Among them are warm water (not hot), and mineral water.

The administration procedure requires the use of a Feline Pet-Ema with a soft feeding tube attached to its end.

Mineral water

While mineral water is easy to use in aiding the cat get rid of its constipation, you have to use it with caution. It works by increasing the volume in the rectum leading to the initiation of bowel movement.

However, you should not use this solution on cats with kidney problems. This is because the solution affects the level of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D.

While the vet is to advise you on how to do it, the following is the general procedure employed:

  1. Ensure you have someone else to help you secure the cat and keep her still as you administer the enema. As stated earlier on, the procedure may be unpleasant to the cat which may make it hard to administer the solution successfully.
  2. Find the right spot for the procedure. The bathroom is the preferred location since it easy to clean up afterward.
  3. Start by lubricating the syringe end with a water-based lubricant. Vaseline jelly can also do the trick. Place the cat on the floor, lift up its tail then start inserting the syringe into its rectum slowly. Stop pushing whenever you feel any resistance however slight. Insert the syringe in three inches (7.6 cm) at most. Once in, administer the enema solution and slowly remove the syringe.
  4. Follow up this step with gently massaging the area between the cat’s legs gently. If your hand comes into contact with any hardened substances, focus on the area. Continue this process until the cat defecates.

If the process does not yield any poop, repeat the enema after an hour or two as directed by the vet.

Video courtesy of Brooke Armistead’s channel.

Warm water

Warm water is one of the easiest cat enema solutions to use given that it is safe and does not cause any pain beyond the delivery action itself. It works by increasing the volume of the contents of the rectum hence stimulating the bowel movement.

Warm water does not soften or directly flush the stool from the body of the cat since it’s level of penetration of the stool is limited. Other solutions such as DSS are better at this.

You can increase the effectiveness of warm water as an enema solution by adding in a lubricant. Ensure the lubricant is water-based before using it. Mix the warm water with the lubricant on a 1:1 ratio then deliver 10ml of the solution to the cat’s rectum. More than this can cause vomiting which is not good in this case.

While the procedure can be done at home, you need the directions of the vet at all times to avoid any mishaps. You may require a few classes at the vet’s office before you are competent enough to carry it out on your own.

How long does it take to work?

Normally, the cat enema takes about an hour or two to work. Within this period, you are bound to notice the cat relieving herself.

However, most over the counter medicines and home remedies are not guaranteed to work within a specific period of time. Rather, you will need to be patient as the solutions differ in effectiveness and working mechanisms.

To estimate how long the cat enema you have chosen will take to work, you need to understand how the enema works. Most enemas fall into two categories mainly softening the fecal matter thus making it easy to pass out and initiating bowel movements.

The length of time taken will also be based on the food eaten before constipation. Some foods are easily flushed out by the enema solution while others take longer.

Best enema for cats OTC

Whether you choose to administer the enema yourself at home or at the vet’s office, you need to be aware of some of the most common over the counter (OTC) solutions for your cat.

A word of caution on this front is that you should only buy the medications which your vet trained and certified you to use on your cat. Also, use the procedure as occasionally as possible.

Keep at bay all enema products which have not been approved for use on your cat specifically. Some may be lethal to your cat. Even when the solution available is meant for humans or dogs, don’t use it for this procedure.

Among the most used OTC products include:

Feline Pet-Ema

Feline Pet Ema
Over the counter enema for cats with constipation.

As one of the most used OTC enema products, Feline Per-Ema is used quite frequently. It is made up of Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate (DSS) in glycerin. Sorbitol acid is also added as a preservative.

Each of these ingredients plays a major role in doing away with constipation. The glycerin lubricates the rectum to facilitate easier bowel movement while the DSS draws in moisture to soften the stool.

This solution is also easy to administer (6ml) given that it comes in a prefixed disposable syringe of the solution ready to use.

Mineral oil

For mineral oil, 5 to 10 ml of the solution is required to induce bowel movement and lead to relief from constipation in your cat.

Mineral oil (together with lactulose and DSS) may be added to isotonic saline solutions or water to improve the results of the chosen enema solution.


Dulcolax Laxative Tablets
Dulcolax is an OTC laxative that can help your cat get relief from constipation.

Ducolax is made up of bisacodyl and is among the very effective OTC solutions for constipation in cats.


Microlax contains sodium laurel sulfoacetate and is given 5ml for each enema procedure.

When buying these solutions, avoid the ones that contain sodium phosphate (such as Fleet). This compound increases the likelihood of inducing electrolyte imbalances (hypernatremia, hypocalcemia, and hyperphosphatemia).

What to do if my cat is still constipated after enema

The usual expectation is that the enema ought to work to give relief to your cat. However, it may fail to work in most cases of severe constipation.

In such a case, your vet will need to manually manipulate the fecal material from the cat’s body. It is a complex procedure which needs to be done either by the vet, or under the instructions of the vet. This procedure, if done right, always works.

Side effects of giving a cat enema at home

One of the side effects of this process is traces of red blood in the stool. This should not worry you as it goes away after a while. If, however, you see a significant volume of blood from the cat, take the cat to the vet immediately as you may have done the procedure incorrectly.

The cat may also lack appetite for a while after the procedure although not for long.

Cost of cat enema

When the vet does the enema for you, you will have to part with between $200 to $800 depending on the activities involved. While you may get the cat enema kits for as little as $10, the vet will charge you more due to the other activities that will need to be carried out beside the enema itself.

First on the list is the process of diagnosing the actual issue. As you may have guessed, it is not always the food eaten that causes constipation in cats. Other causes of this undesirable condition include:

  • Dehydration
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Hairball or excessive grooming
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacs
  • Hair tangling around the anus
  • Medicines with side effects
  • Foreign objects in the diet (bones, cloth, strings)
  • Tumors
  • Obstruction of the intestines
  • Obesity
  • Neurological diseases
  • Motility of the colon.

As such, the vet will carry out various tests on your cat such as urinalysis, the baseline blood test, blood chemistry analysis, physical exam, radiography, ultrasound, and others. These tests are carried out to establish whether it is a simple case of poor foods, or if another problem underlies the condition.

Besides that, the cost of cat enema will be increased by the need to carry out more than one enema to obtain the desired results. As stated in the above section, the procedure may be repeated severally to be effective.