Understanding what to expect after a cat enema is crucial for any pet owner facing this common veterinary procedure.
This guide provides clear insights into the post-enema process, ensuring you’re well-prepared to care for your feline friend during its recovery.
What Happens During A Cat Enema?
An enema is the introduction of saline solution or a laxative into the rectum to stimulate bowel movements.
This procedure works much quicker than oral medication as it is administered directly into the rectum.
More precisely, through the rectum and into the colon.
The liquid used in the enema softens the stool and relaxes the bowel muscles, making it easier for the cat to pass it.
It also causes mild irritation to the mucosa (the inner lining) of the colon and stimulates the muscles of the colon to contract (peristalsis).
Enemas are given to constipated cats who have not been able to have a proper bowel movement for a few days.
Such a procedure can be crucial especially if your cat has eaten something dangerous like rubber bands.
An enema can be given if the undigested rubber bands have entered your cat’s large intestines.
How Long Does A Cat Enema Takes To Work?
The laxative (Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate) can trigger a bowel movement within 20-30 minutes.
Some cats can react to the enema as quickly as 5 minutes.
There are times when it can take up to an hour or more for the enema to work. This usually happens in cats with severe constipation or have an underlying health issue.
The time it takes for the enema to work depends on the amount of stool that has been stored in the colon, the cause of the constipation, etc.
Many times if the feces has hardened too much, abdominal massage is needed to manually loosen the stool.
It might take twenty to thirty minutes for your cat to start defecating normally.
What To Expect After Your Cat Has An Enema?
We can all agree that your cat won’t be feeling all chirpy and cheerful after getting an enema at the vet.
Here are some changes that you might notice in your cat.
1. Runny And Leaky Poo
The enema solution softens the stool in your cat’s intestines and stimulates bowel movements.
This often results in a temporary phase of runny or liquid stool.
Some cats may experience involuntary leakage of stool post-enema.
You can expect runny poo or brown liquid to leak out of your cat’s anus right after the procedure.
It would be best to have a bunch of paper towels or pet diapers in the carrier on the way home as things will get messy.
2. Short Term Diarrhea
Your cat might experience a brief bout of diarrhea after getting an enema.
The enema aims to stimulate bowel movement which can last for a while.
You can expect your cat to use its litter box more frequently for the next 24 hours.
The diarrhea should stop after a day or two, depending on how severe your cat’s constipation was.
If it continues longer than that, you need to bring your cat back to the vet. Prolonged diarrhea isn’t safe and can turn life-threatening quickly.
If your cat has a sensitive digestive system, it can start to feel nauseous after the enema.
The digestive system is designed to push undigested stomach content toward the rectum.
But when an enema is given, this forces liquid back up in the opposite direction.
This process can trigger a series of muscle contractions that extend up to the stomach and lead to vomiting.
In most cases, enemas are performed with the cat under anesthesia to minimize stress and avoid any injuries.
Sedating the cat also allows for the enema to be fully and properly carried out.
When a cat wakes up from anesthesia, it can also start to feel nauseous due to being sedated.
I wouldn’t be too concerned if your cat vomits a few times. But if the puking doesn’t stop, please inform your vet immediately.
4. Feeling Antisocial
Most cats won’t be their usual affectionate or sociable selves after coming back from the vet.
This temporary antisocial behavior is a normal reaction to the discomfort and unfamiliar sensations they’ve experienced
Just leave your cat alone for now and let it slowly decompress.
Medical procedures and vet visits are always stressful for many cats.
It should be back to its normal self in a few days.
5. Lack Of Appetite
It’s not uncommon for your cat to lose its appetite or not want to eat after an enema.
An enema is after all a very ‘unique’ experience for your cat.
My cat didn’t eat for almost 24 hours after getting his enema.
You can read about his story further down.
It is hard to feel hungry when your cat might be suffering from nausea and diarrhea.
Your cat’s appetite will start to return after a day or two.
You need to let your vet know if your cat’s appetite isn’t improving at all.
It can be very dangerous for cats to not eat after a few days which can result in liver failure.
What Are The Enema For Cats Side Effects?
Enemas are generally safe but it’s important to be aware of potential side effects.
Rectal Irritation or Injury: The insertion of the enema tube can irritate the rectal area. In rare cases, it might lead to minor injuries or tears if not done gently or if the cat struggles too much.
Dehydration: Enemas can lead to dehydration, especially if there’s short-term diarrhea. This is due to the loss of fluids during the bowel movement induced by the enema.
Electrolyte Imbalance: Frequent or improperly administered enemas can disrupt the balance of electrolytes in the cat’s body, which can be harmful.
Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some cats might have an allergic reaction to the substances used in the enema solution.
How Long Does It Take For Your Cat To Recover From An Enema?
The recovery time can vary on each cat and the reason for the enema. And whether anesthesia was used or not.
Most cats do bounce back quite quickly, often within a few hours to a day.
After the enema, your cat may seem a bit lethargic or disoriented, which is normal.
It’s crucial during this period to provide a quiet, comfortable space for your cat to rest and regain its strength.
In terms of bowel movements, you might notice a change in your cat’s stool consistency or frequency in the first 24 hours post-enema.
Make sure to always have fresh water available for your cat. And feel free to feed your cat normally if it wants to eat.
It would be advisable to give wet food and food that is rich in fiber, for at least a few days after the enema.
But if your cat continues to show signs of distress, lethargy, or abnormal bowel movements beyond a day, it’s important to consult your veterinarian.
Can You Give Your Cat An Enema At Home?
I would strongly recommend NOT giving your cat an enema at home unless instructed by the veterinarian.
Do not use any over-the-counter enemas such as Fleet as they can be toxic to cats.
However, you should always consult your vet before giving any medications.
Miralax should not be given to dehydrated cats as it can lead to further dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Enemas can be risky if not done correctly, as they can cause injury to your cat’s delicate rectal tissues or lead to other complications.
If your cat needs an enema for any reason, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian.
They can provide the safest and most effective treatment for your cat’s specific needs.
The Day My Cat An Enema
A few years back, I had to bring my cat to the vet for having constipation.
He had not had a bowel movement for 3 days and was starting to get antsy.
The vet started pressing his tummy and said that she could feel his stools being stuck.
An enema was prescribed and a part of me knew that my cat was going to hate it.
When the vet inserted the nozzle into my cat’s bum, the sudden rush of the fluids freaked him out.
He overreacted by squeezing out the contents of his bowels in a giant explosion.
Thankfully, I was standing at the side but I can’t say the same for the vet who bore the full brunt of it.
How To Prevent Constipation In Cats?
Prevention is better than cure and here are some ways that you can help prevent constipation in your cat.
Stop Feeding Low-Quality Dry Food
Dry cat food or kibbles is a very poor diet for cats. Dry cat food tends to contain a high amount of low-quality ingredients and carbohydrates which are bad for cats.
If your cat is insistent on only eating dry food, then get one that uses high-quality ingredients and contains very little to no grains.
Dry food also has no moisture which is a cause of feline constipation and leaves your cat dehydrated.
It is advisable to stop giving dry food to your cat if it is constipated.
Until the constipation is resolved. it is advisable to feed your cat mainly wet food, just to be safe
Get Your Cat To Drink More Water
It can be challenging to try to get your cat to drink more water. Cats have a high thirst threshold and get most of their moisture from food.
You can try putting more water bowls around the house to encourage your cat to drink more water.
If a cat isn’t consuming enough water, its fecal matter begins to harden within the intestines.
The longer it remains lodged there, the more it will dry out and become harder
The best way to hydrate your cat is with wet food or a raw meat diet for cats.
Such diets contain a higher level of moisture which is what your cat needs.
Add Some Fiber To Your Cat’s Diet
If your cat is prone to getting constipation, try adding some fresh pumpkin or psyllium husk into your cat’s wet food once every few days.
Only a small amount is needed per serving, 1/4-1/5 teaspoon.
Don’t feed pumpkin puree that has added sugar or ingredients.
For psyllium husk, do not add it to dry food as it needs to be mixed with water to work effectively.
Never overfeed your cat with psyllium husk as it can clog up the digestive system.
Brush Your Cat Often
Another common cause for constipation in cats is hairballs. This happens when cats groom themselves and swallow a lot of loose hair in the process.
If this hairball becomes too large it can get stuck in the intestines, mineralize and become harder to pass.
You can help lower the risk of hairballs in your cat by brushing it often to remove as much loose fur as possible.
There are a lot of commercial products like anti-bezoar paste or gel, which owners should give to their cats regularly 1-2 times per week.
Getting an enema for your cat’s constipation isn’t the end of the world. It can be a rather drastic experience for your cat but it won’t cause any major side effects.
Make sure to monitor your cat’s appetite to make sure that it doesn’t go too long without food.
Let your vet know if your cat is showing any other symptoms that persist.
Why Is My Cat Not Pooping After An Enema?
Your cat might be suffering from severe constipation or a bowel obstruction. Surgery might be required to resolve the issue.
Should I Change My Cat’s Diet After An Enema?
Refrain from feeding your cat anything ‘unhealthy’ during this period such as dairy. Add more fiber and water to your cat’s diet during this period.
Nora is a passionate writer with a love for books, animals, and gardening.
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