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Megacolon in cats

Updated on December 9, 2008
Virbac Vetasyl Fiber Supplement (100 capsules)
Virbac Vetasyl Fiber Supplement (100 capsules)

Encourages natural elimination without the aid of chemicals, while providing a gentle, effective relief from constipation. Convenient, easy-to-administer. Directions: Open capsule & Sprinkle over food. Use one capsule per 20 lbs. For dogs and cats.

 

Treatment options for megacolon

 

A constipated cat can surely be a annoying issue to deal with. Simply watching the poor kitty straining in the litter box may certainly concern many cat owners. Yet, even the most attentive owner may not realize that frequent bouts of constipation, may suggest a much more serious condition, a condition not very known, called megacolon.

I was unaware of megacolon until I started working as a receptionist at an AAHA approved veterinary hospital. There was a black cat named B.J that I had seen quite often in the appointment book. I always wondered what was wrong with this poor little fellow, so one day as I had his chart in my hands I took a peek.

 

His twice a week appointments consisted basically of an enema performed by the veterinarian. The enema's function was to stimulate a bowel movement. This cat was affected by megacolon, a condition which literally meant "enlarged colon". As a matter of fact, most of affected cats suffered from some sort of malfunction of the nerves leading to the colon causing the colon's muscle walls to enlarge becoming ineffective and requiring enemas. It finally was explained why we used to hear this poor cat screaming and growling behind the closed doors! Now it all made sense, after all, nobody likes enemas!

The causes of megacolon can be at times obscure, in Idiopathic Megacolon as a matter of fact, no real cause is known. In some cases an actual abnormality in the intestines are found often due to a congenital malformation of due to trauma. In any case, cats suffering from megacolonseem to share the same annoying symptomatologies: small dry stools, constipation, straining, distended abdomen, refusal to use litter box, pain, passage of only blood or mucous and in more serious cases vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss.

As I worked at the front desk, I learned of many other cats suffering from the same condition. The all suffered from fecal impaction, requiring often manual removal from the veterinarian. Most of them where put on prescription laxatives and special diets. An often prescribed medication consisted of sweet liquidLactulose and in more severe cases, Cisapride a medication was only found in special petcompouding pharmacies as it was put off the market for human usage a while ago.

As an owner of a cat suffering from megacolon you may find yourself looking for alternative therapies to save money and frequent vet visits. One owner, in particular was successful in adding a small amount of Benefiber to her cat's food every day. I knew this was well working as she started cancelling her appointments more and more often, up to a point where I didn't see them in months. In her chart was a little note stating that her cat was back to normal since this little supplement was added.

Never purchase over the counter enemas for your cat. Enemas made for humans can be very toxic to our pets. While it is true that a home made enema made of water and soap or KY Jelly may do the trick, this is highly unrecommended because cats dislike enemas and will fight with their teeth and claws to avoid them as much as they can.

While many cats benefit from medication and a diet with increased fiber, some may require surgery. A colectomy, removal of the colon, may need to be performed. This usually, fixes the problem long term.

As per B.J, I still hear from my former collegues that he is still patiently submitting to the unpleasant procedure. At 14 years old he is not the ideal candidate for surgery, yet with enemas and Lactulose, he is still able to enjoy a good quality of life.

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    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 

      8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thanks for writing this; it's a good Hub. Check out my short Hub on Feline Diabetes. My cat is losing weight on canned food--was kind of at risk for diabetes as her weight got so high.

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