How Long Can a Cat Live With Megacolon?
This condition typically manifests itself in middle-aged male domestic shorthair cats. A veterinarian can diagnose it when they notice that there is an distended colon filled with feces.
If the cat’s bowels remain distended for over four to six months, its intestinal muscles will likely lose function. At this point, surgery called subtotal colectomy may be required in order to relieve its symptoms of megacolon.
Megacolon in cats can lead to their death if left untreated for too long; therefore it should never be neglected or put off; particularly among younger kittens. Early diagnosis can often increase their chance of living a full and productive life; the outcome for megacolon-afflicted felines depends on both its extent and severity as well as time since symptoms first appeared.
An enlarged colon can’t pass feces properly, leading to constipation or obstipation that is very painful for cats and may lead to malnutrition or dehydration that ultimately leads to death from malnutrition or dehydration. Megacolon symptoms for cats include pain when trying to pass stool; decreased appetite and weight loss; bloody stool that are large and firm.
Diagnosing an idiopathic megacolon typically occurs after prolonged constipation has taken place, especially among multicat households or when cats live indoor/outdoor environments. A veterinarian will perform a physical exam, feeling for firm feces that has lodged itself into the colon. X-rays may be recommended by veterinarians in order to see how much the colon has expanded over time; other diagnostic options could include abdominal ultrasound, contrast studies of lower gastrointestinal tract or colonoscopy as well as blood testing for hypokalemia or hypercalcemia which can contribute to constipation in some cats.
If the cause of megacolon is unknown, treatment options include using medications like laxatives, colon-wall stimulants and enemas to break up large fecal masses. While this won’t resolve the root problem itself, it will make bowel movements easier for your cat.
Cats that fail to respond to medical management may need surgery; typically a subtotal colectomy. Most cats who undergo this operation and receive proper post-op care tend to experience good outcomes and can lead near-normal lives afterward; though they may still have diarrhea-like stools initially. Over time and through diet modification they should improve.
The large intestine absorbs nutrients and water from food while expelling waste products from the body. If nerves to this bowel fail to work correctly, megacolon can occur; it is an uncomfortable and potentially lethal condition in which dry hard stool builds up inside its walls causing distention in the colon and eventually vomiting and anemia due to inability to defecate regularly. Megacolon may be congenital or acquired; typically occurring among middle-aged to older male domestic shorthair cats.
Megacolon symptoms typically begin with infrequent or completely absent stool production and progress rapidly as time goes on. Stools that do pass may be smaller than usual and cause the cat pain when trying to pass waste products through. Over time, however, the accumulation of waste material irritates the colon lining, leading to bloody stool or diarrhea around its presence.
A veterinarian can diagnose this condition by palpating the abdomen and noting a distended colon filled with hard feces. They may then run diagnostic tests to ascertain whether there may be a mass pressing against it or blockages in its pelvic canal such as bone fragments or tumors that cause it.
Medical treatments for cats with megacolon include laxatives, colon-wall stimulants and enemas; while they don’t address the source of constipation directly, these remedies do help relieve it temporarily. A change in diet may also help facilitate fecal movement; for example a high fiber/low residue diet has proven helpful.
If the constipation fails to respond to these treatments, a veterinarian may administer fluids and antiemetics if vomiting persists; iron supplements for anemia; and fluid therapy as necessary. If fecal blockage becomes severe enough, an anesthesia-based procedure called subtotal colectomy may also be required in order to remove all feces.
Many cats that undergo surgery for megacolon do well afterward. If left untreated, however, the condition will worsen over time until no other solution will help your cat pass their feces.
Cats suffering from megacolon have an abnormally distended and enlarged colon that’s filled with hard, dry feces. They typically present to veterinarians with reduced or absent bowel movements and even blood in the stool caused by prolonged constipation or an irritated colon lining from prolonged constipation. While the condition often arises spontaneously without identifiable causes, it could also be the result of chronic diseases which have irreversibly stretched and distended their colon.
Your vet can diagnose megacolon with a comprehensive physical exam and radiographs (x-ray images). He or she should be able to palpate the large intestine to gauge its dilation; additionally they will be able to see any swelling on an x-ray image; additionally they will order bloodwork to test for hypokalemia and hypercalcemia as these diseases contribute to constipation; furthermore it’s essential that weight is evaluated, since excessive loss may indicate megacolon.
As their disease worsens, cats with megacolon will usually squat in their litter box and attempt to fece. They may vocalize or cry out when trying to defecate and may produce watery diarrhea around their fecal mass – this should be addressed immediately by your veterinarian.
In cases that do not respond to medical treatments, surgery is sometimes the only solution. Your surgeon may opt for subtotal colectomy in severe and chronic cases of megacolon; it offers the highest chance for a positive outcome.
Even once a cat has fully recovered from megacolon, they may recur and it is important to monitor their stool output on an ongoing basis. They will need a diet rich in high fiber food in order to help avoid further bouts.
An early diagnosis and treatment are critical in improving the prognosis for cats with megacolon. Mild or moderate cases may benefit from increasing dietary fiber, laxatives or stool softeners and drugs known as prokinetic agents (such as Cisapride) to stimulate colon muscles. For severe constipated cats an enema may also be necessary – this procedure uses lubricating liquids injected under anesthesia into large intestine to help pass hard, fecal-laden stools more quickly.
Cases of megacolon that do not respond to medical management generally require surgery in order to prevent potentially lethal bowel perforation. When megacolon occurs idiopathically – as is seen in two-thirds of all cases – its cause cannot be pinpointed; though one theory suggests it might happen due to smooth muscle in the colon not functioning as it should, leading to gradual stretching until it no longer can move faeces out through its entirety; multiple bouts of constipation could exacerbate this condition until finally becoming visible resulting in massively distended colon seen when megacolon appears.
Megacolon in cats caused by pelvic fractures can be confirmed with simple radiographs and rectal examination under sedation or anesthesia, to identify mechanical obstruction. If distension has persisted for four or six months, surgical intervention may be necessary in order to restore normal function.
Therefore, most cases of idiopathic megacolon are best treated through subtotal colectomy – in which most or all of the colon is surgically removed – as this surgical option has proven very successful at restoring normal bowel motility and regular stools in most instances. Cats who undergo colonectomy often experience diarrhea-like or pudding-like stools for some time after their procedure; these will typically be more frequent and loose than any constipated episodes they experienced prior to surgery. Complications associated with chronic kidney disease in animals do not tend to last forever, but should still be closely monitored by a veterinarian. A complete blood count, electrolyte panel and serum biochemistries test should also be run in order to ascertain any possible underlying causes that need addressing.