How to Safely Give Your Cat an Enema and How Long It Takes to Work

cute red cat on a blue background is waiting for an enema, a hand in a blue rubber disposable glove holds a small green enema, copy space
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Written by Alanna Davis

Published: February 18, 2024

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For cat lovers, seeing something amiss medically with your pet can be a cause for serious concern. Luckily, there are many at-home treatments owners can administer to help make their pets’ lives more comfortable. For example, cats that are experiencing issues passing feces can get an enema in the comfort of their own home. This is an excellent choice for cats who have issues leaving the house or those who have trust issues with strangers. Let’s discuss when and why you should give your cat an enema and explore how to do so safely.

When Is an Enema Necessary?

Ginger cat step inside a litter box. Horizontal image with copy space.

Never administer an enema to your cat that contains sodium phosphate.

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Many pet owners might be wondering when performing an enema is medically necessary. Although there are several different causes for stool blockages in cats, at-home enemas should only be conducted in mild cases of constipation. Cats who have been unable to pass stool for one to three days maximum are candidates. However, cats who are constipated regularly or for long periods of time should be taken in to see a vet instead.

What Is the Difference Between Obstipation Constipation, and Megacolon In Cats?

Vet examining pet cat with stethoscope on table in surgery

Feeding your cat a diet rich in fiber and making sure they’re hydrated can help battle constipation.

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Although constipation, obstipation, and megacolon might seem similar, these conditions are unique from one another. Constipation essentially means infrequent defecation or difficulty associated with passing stool. Obstipation is a chronic form of constipation and can be far more dangerous. Megacolon may develop after prolonged bouts of obstipation and constipation. It is a severe dilation of the colon which may cause nerve damage. These conditions can be avoided or mitigated by feeding your cat a diet high in fiber.

What Conditions Cause Obstipation Constipation, and Megacolon In Cats?

According to Metropolitan Veterinary Associates, “Causes of constipation can be obesity, lack of fiber or water in the diet, or medical conditions causing poor gastrointestinal motility. Symptoms of obstipation include straining to have a bowel movement or pain when trying to defecate. Cats that are constipated often develop a loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. “

Considerations to Make Before Giving Your Cat an Enema

Veterinarian examining an orange cat

If your cat is showing symptoms of a blockage, call your vet to schedule an appointment.

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Believe it or not, cat owners can safely give their pets an enema at home without bringing them to the vet. The first step in administering an enema is to assess your cat’s condition. If they have been constipated for three days or less, at-home treatment is safe. If your pet is experiencing difficulty passing feces for longer than three days, a vet trip is preferable. In addition, if your cat is prone to aggressive outbursts, at-home treatment may be difficult if not impossible. Only conduct this procedure on docile cats with mild cases of constipation.

How to Safely Give Your Cat an Enema

cute red cat on a blue background is waiting for an enema, a hand in a blue rubber disposable glove holds a small green enema, copy space

Your cat’s personality will influence whether or not they’re a good candidate for an at-home enema.

©TShaKopy/Shutterstock.com

The first step in administering an enema is purchasing an appropriate, feline-safe product. According to the MSPCA, “Enemas of about 60 ml per cat can be used and may need to be repeated every eight hours.¬†Enema solutions of warm water, saline, or water mixed with a water-based lubricant or lactulose¬†have been used.” Prepare your materials within the space where you will conduct the enema. For many, the bathroom is preferable as the tiled surface will make for an easy cleanup. Be sure to line the area where you perform the enema with wee-wee pads or towels and put on gloves and old clothes, you’re okay with getting dirty.

Lubricate the tip of the syringe included with your enema with Vaseline. Gently restrain your cat using a blanket or towel before lifting their tail to insert the enema. It’s important to make sure you insert the tip of the syringe slowly and gently so as to not cause more pain or medical complications for your pet. The maximum insertion should be roughly two inches deep. If your cat allows it, massage their abdomen as the fluid fills them up in order to help loosen the blockage.

How Long Does It Take to Work?

After administering the enema, the results will be clear in two hours at maximum. Every cat is different, and so too is the severity of their blockages. Because of this, some cats might defecate in as little as 15 minutes after administering the enema. Other cats might pass the blockage sometime shortly after the enema was given.

When Is It Time to Go to the Vet?

British short hair cat at veterinarian

Seek professional medical attention if the enema does not appear to be working.

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In the event that your cat hasn’t passed anything in over two hours, it may be time to consider administering another enema. If this does not work, bring them to the vet to get a professional opinion. It is important to note that if your cat’s condition does not improve or seems to worsen, treatment or surgery may be necessary.

Final Thoughts

Although giving your cat an enema at home might seem challenging or intimidating, it’s much easier than you think. As long as owners have access to the proper tools and knowledge, this process is relatively straightforward. As we stated earlier, if you notice your cat’s condition hasn’t improved after giving them an enema, bring them to the vet immediately. Although giving at-home treatments can help mitigate discomfort and save money, nothing is quite as safe as getting a trained professional to help.


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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