Metamucil is the brand name of psyllium, a bulk-forming laxative and cholesterol-lowering product made by Proctor and Gamble. It is made from the husks of seeds from plants of the genus Plantago.
Psyllium has not been FDA approved but is commonly prescribed by veterinarians, it is available by prescription and over the counter.
The small intestine doesn’t absorb psyllium which passes into the large intestine, and absorbs water. This forms a gel-like substance (mucilage) that adds bulk to the stool. This helps to soften hard, dry feces. A large, soft stool stimulates intestinal contractions to move the stool along and out of the body via the anus.
Psyllium can also help to add bulk and firm up watery stools associated with diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease.
As always, seek veterinary advice before you give your cat psyllium. There are a number of causes of constipation which may require medical intervention.
The recommended dosage for cats is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon or 1 capsule of unflavoured psyllium per day added to wet cat food.
Store psyllium at room temperature in a dry location.
How long before psyllium takes effect?
Between 12 and 72 hours.
Where can I buy psyllium?
Psyllium is available in most supermarkets, pharmacies and health food stores under the brand name Metamucil as well as a number of generic names. There are also veterinary formulations available.
Psyllium is generally safe, but can be a potential choking hazard, therefore always ensure fresh water is available at all times.
Some cats may experience bloating flatulence while taking psyllium.
Do not give psyllium to cats with a suspected gastrointestinal blockage or fecal impaction.
An allergic or anaphylactic response can occur in rare cases. If your cat displays any symptoms such as itching or difficulty breathing after administration of psyllium, seek veterinary attention immediately.
If the cat’s condition worsens or does not improve, stop product administration and consult your veterinarian.
Bran and pumpkin are also bulk forming laxatives which can be used to treat constipation and diarrhea in cats.
Exercise is important in all cats, especially constipated cats.