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Vet Talk: Megacolon and Chronic Constipation in Cats

Posted June 9, 2017


Constipation in cats is an all too common problem. Although, in most cases constipation can be easily treated, there are some instances when chronic constipation can result in more serious conditions, like megacolon. 

What is megacolon?

Megacolon is when the intestine becomes enlarged, dilated and packed with hard fecal matter. This is an extremely uncomfortable disorder for your kitty. If your cat has megacolon, they may have frequent unproductive straining, lethargy, appetite loss, and vomiting. You may also notice small hard stools in the litter box and around the house.  Sometimes liquid stool is passed around the hard fecal mass, making owners think their kitty is having diarrhea.

What causes megacolon in cats?

There are a number of possible reasons for megacolon in cats, such as:

  • Your cat ingesting poorly digestible, firm matter like hair, certain plants, or litter.
  • Chronic underlying health conditions, like kidney disease causing electrolyte imbalances, or arthritic pain
  • Physical internal obstruction, such as when cats have a broken pelvis— the pelvic canal can be physically narrowed and make stool difficult and too painful to pass, causing the stool to become dehydrated in the colon and eventually cause the colon to dilate.
  • Certain pharmaceutical drugs
  • Poor neuromuscular problems with the colon itself
  • Anxiety
  • A dirty litter pan (some kitties prefer super clean pans and will hold it!)

 Chronic constipation cats

What are the treatments of megacolon in cats?

Enemas are the first thing to try at your vet’s office to relieve obstipation.  Along with fluid supplementation, possible antibiotics, anti-nausea medications and pain medication.  In severe cases, when an enema is not enough, anesthesia and manual de-bulking of the colon are necessary.

Medications such as enulose, Metamucil, mirilax and fiber supplementation are ways to soften the stool, making it easier for the kitty to pass the stool after the colon has been emptied.  Cisapride and dulcolax are medications to enhance the contractile strength of the large intestine. 

What are long term solutions?

Daily medications are necessary, along with food therapy (low residue, highly digestible diets or high fiber diets), and supplements.

NHV Maris is helpful for cats with chronic constipation or megacolon as it helps soften the stools and improve bowel movements. It contains herbs that helps improve peristalsis, aids with gas, relieves stomach cramps, and is a natural aid to help enhance the contractile strength of the large intestine.

I also often teach my owners how to palpate for constipation. This helps tremendously since many times owners can save a trip to the vet and increase medications relieving the obstipation at home before it is severe.

What happens when constipation cannot be managed with medications?

In such severe conditions, sub total colectomy surgery provides relief for many cats that can’t be managed with food, supplements, or medications.

What are preventative options?

Preventing your kitty from having hard, infrequent stools is key to avoiding megacolon.  The first sign of struggle to defecate with hard stools should be addressed with supplements, like NHV Maris.

Natural options for support

NHV Maris is a natural constipation aid. This formulation helps soften stools, and contains herbs that help improve peristalsis, and improve intestinal muscle tone.

NHV Hairb-EZ is a good support for pets that groom excessively, or are prone to hairballs. The formulation helps eliminate hairballs, and helps dissolve ingested hairballs.

Water fountains are a great way to make sure your kitty drinks enough water and stays hydrated!

Exercise helps stimulate the intestines and keeps things moving.

Stress management. Keep your kitty’s litter pan clean to avoid litterbox stress. If anxiety is an issue with your kitty use NHV Matricalm along with NHV Maris.

Diet –  high fiber and low residue

Megacolon can be quite a scary issue for pet owners. Make sure your kitty has all the support they need with diet, supplementation, and medication. If your kitty’s constipation is severe, please seek veterinary assistance right away.

If your kitty has been diagnosed with megacolon and is suffering from an additional underlying condition, please contact me for an online vet consult, so that we can address all the issues and keep your kitty feeling well.

Maris- Cat Constipation

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