Cats & Psyllium

"Psyllium? Sounds like a heavy metal band. What's to eat?"

"Psyllium? Sounds like a heavy metal band. What's to eat?"

Perhaps you add a spoonful or two of psyllium to your breakfast cereal to keep you regular. You might want to give your feline friend some, too, if she's having bathroom problems. Although psyllium is recommended for constipation, it's also an effective remedy for bouts of diarrhea.

Psyllium

Psyllium comes from the ripe seeds of the plantago, a type of plantain. The seeds contain mucilage -- a clear, colorless gel -- and the seed husks take on a gel-like consistency when water is added to them. The expansion of the psyllium seeds when water's introduced creates an ideal natural means of cleaning the colon, as it gives enough substance to fecal matter in the intestines to allow it to move through the body with ease. The small intestine isn't able to digest the psyllium, so none of the substance's bulky consistency is lost. It makes psyllium a suitable treatment for both constipation and diarrhea. Sure, they're seemingly opposite conditions; but the actions of psyllium in the digestive tract relieve one condition and control the other. You can give your cat "human" brands of psyllium such as Metamacil or Fybogel, but don't give it to her without consulting your vet first; he may recommend a veterinary formulation created just for cats.

Megacolon

Too little fiber in the diet cause constipation. Cats are carnivores, so your furry friend doesn't have much of a taste for bulking up her diet with fruit and vegetables. Ordinarily cats don't have a problem, but yours will if she has a condition called megacolon. Your cat may develop this because her colon muscle doesn't contract properly; as a result she's unable to move fecal material through it. Any cat can get megacolon, but according to PetPlace.com it's more common in middle-age cats. Treatment recommendations include a high fiber diet and bulking agents such as psyllium for managing the condition.

Diarrhea

Most often your cat has diarrhea because she's ridding her body of toxins. The source of the diarrhea might be an intestinal virus, or it could be a reaction to a sudden change in diet or some food that doesn't agree with her. After putting her on a fast for 24 hours, reintroduce food in small amounts, preferably something bland like rice and chicken. Add psyllium to this bland diet. It draws moisture out of her colon and the watery stools, resulting in something much firmer. Vets at DVM360.com suggest giving your cat 1 teaspoon of psyllium mixed with her food twice daily until the diarrhea stops. However, you must make sure she has plenty of water available if you're giving her psyllium; otherwise she could end up with an intestinal obstruction.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Grains in kibble and poor-quality canned cat food are known culprits of inflammatory bowel disease. The Holisticat website suggests that even superior-quality cat foods have ingredients that cause the condition, carrageenan and guar gum being two of them. Alternating bouts of constipation, diarrhea and vomiting, plus signs of straining to eliminate are signs of the problem. If left untreated, a cat's intestinal tract will start to bleed. Some cats benefit from added dietary fiber in the form of psyllium -- although, as Holisticat explains, some cats are allergic to it and it may cause more vomiting. In this case, canned pumpkin and rice bran may be alternatives she can tolerate in moderation.

 

About the Author

Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.

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