Home Treatment for Megacolon in Cats

By Bruce in North Dakota, USA

Home treatment for chronic constipation in cats

Home treatment for chronic constipation in cats! The illustration is dated 1870-1900.

Intro by Michael: Occasionally chronic constipation is due to an enlarged, sluggish colon that is not working properly; it doesn’t contract to push the feces out. This condition is called megacolon. Cats megacolon require constant treatment.

Bruce, a welcome visitor to PoC, devised a treatment for his cat who he believes suffers from megacolon or at least chronic constipation. I have published his comment below. I hope it proves helpful to cat caretakers who have to deal with this difficult and worrisome problem (page on home treating feline constipation).

Cass another visitor made this useful comment about her Singapura cat:

I finally took him in – x-rays indicated severe compaction from a condition known as Megacolon. The vet explained that cats who eat a lot and are overweight tend to produce this condition where the colon gets ‘worn out’ and doesn’t push the digested food through, but continues to extract moisture from the matter. What finally does get pushed out is hard and almost sandy in texture. It was quite difficult to get him ‘cleaned out’. She even had to do some hand extraction as far as she could reach – not much fun for either of them. This procedure happened twice. Then later: I now use Lactulose syrup from my vet, 1/2 dropper full twice a day and it works great. My cat takes it with aplomb. He doesn’t get a choice!

This is what Bruce said about his treatment:

ROUND ONE fought and won! Understandably, the terms “Catastrophe” and “Cat-Ass Trophy” are interchangeable – and both seem quite appropriate.

Itchy Brother seemed to understand what we were going to do last night, but he talked me into waiting until daylight hours. We spent a pleasant night, with him snuggled into his favorite position on my legs, purring quite loudly.

I prepped the syringe by washing it and lubricating the plunger so it operated smoothly, and ran a bit of emery-cloth on the spout end to smooth the sharp edges.

The enema solution I prepared was 50% vegetable glycerine (note from Michael: this is widely available on the internet), and 50% slightly warm water for the first “injections”. The syringe is 10cc, and it worked like a charm. I held him in my lap on his back, his head on my chest, pressed his back legs up to his chest with my left forearm and used my right hand to insert the tip (after wiping a bit of glycerine on his bottom for lubrication)

Not knowing much of the exact anatomy of the feline rectum, I was ever so careful as I inserted the tip, and found that pressing the plunger just a bit (to expel some liquid) as I did so helped in “aligning things” and pushing past the two sets of sphincter muscles.

I full expected him to resist or squirm, but lots of conversation and eye contact was used, and he actually started purring as I administered the solution!

The first plunger-full just went right in, so I refilled it quickly and gave him two more in quick succession. He was still purring, so I thought “what the hell!” and gave him two of pure glycerine (I think Olive or Coconut Oil would be as suitable), followed by three more of warm water with a shot of coffee in it (hey – don’t laugh: I read that coffee enemas are all the rage with the British royals!)

That seemed about the limit of Dr. Itchy Brother’s patience, so we took a break. I tried massaging his abdomen, but he didn’t care much for my “deep massage” technique, so I just put my hands under his belly and kind of jiggled him up and down.

That was kind of “weird”: the first few “jiggles” his belly felt quite firm, and then – I am going to guess everything went past the impaction – his belly went soft and I could actually hear the water start sloshing around as I jiggled him!

(he acted quite comfortable and content as I did this, ever so gently of course)

He started to act like he was ready to evacuate after about 10 minutes, quite a long time I was thinking. I set him in the tub, he started scratching at it, squatted, and expelled about maybe 25cc of liquid.

The liquid was clear to start, and then turned only slightly “muddy”. He was done as far as he was concerned, so I picked him back up and administered four more syringes of warm water and glycerine, and jiggled his innards around again, a bit more aggressively.

This time, he acted a bit distressed, and vomited when I set him back in the tub. He salivated quite a bit first, and then puked about 3/4 of a cup of his morning meal of dried kibbles (yes, he needs wet food, I know)

Itchy expelled maybe another 20cc of mostly clear liquid, hopped out of the tub, and as I was wiping the tub he simply EXPLODED by the door, all over the floor.

HALLELUJAH! SUCCESS!!!

All told, Itchy eliminated maybe 3/4+ cup of very, VERY hard feces, and likely half or more of the liquids I administered to him, in the form of a heavy slurry.

I picked him up, took him outside and let him go run under a car parked in the grass next to the house. I watched him squat a bit, but could not see what he eliminated and just left him to relax and recuperate. As I walked away, he let out a very loud holler, and I am guessing he had a large mass pass.

Later, I will move the vehicle and look, and do hope to find some real “prizes” there. I just checked on him, and he is sunning himself and looks quite content.

I am pretty sure that Itchy was suffering that condition called “megacolon”, and that he was rapidly approaching that final hour with it, the point of no return. He has been mostly “plugged” for quite a while, a number of months. I have read that manual removal of the impaction (surgery), antibiotics, hospitalization and many return visits to the Vet are almost always the prescribed course of action for this.

Well, folks: If you are like me, and without the resources to fund such a medical adventure, please know that this rather aggressive home treatment seems to have done the trick!

I will repeat this process, every two days, until he starts using the litter-box productively again.

Thank you ever so much for allowing me to share Itchy’s treatment plan and these positive results with the world, dear Michael Broad!

I had no idea if it was going to work, or if I was going to fail and cause the miserable demise of my best friend in the world.

(and thank you God, too!)

Bruce

Possible Symptoms of Chronic Constipation:

  • bloated appearance
  • lethargy
  • pick at food
  • blood tinged watery brown stool (looks a bit like diarrhea)
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Comments

Home Treatment for Megacolon in Cats — 22 Comments

  1. Well, that is quite a story on how to deal with it!! I now use Lactulose syrup from my vet, 1/2 dropper full twice a day and it works great. My cat takes it with aplomb. He doesn’t get a choice!

  2. The symptom we noticed was constipation (finding “gifts” anywhere on the floors because he couldn’t get rid of them easily and would try to walk away from the box) and great weight loss (not much fun eating when you’re all bound up).

  3. Hi, Bruce –

    Such a fine little man!

    And an eloquent, polished and humorous post written by someone who loves his cat.

    It was far better your doing this to your fur-man instead of a vet, who would have alarmed him. Nor would a vet have spent more than a couple of minutes with him: he’d have pumped in a quart at one squirt. At least your man’s purring (with lots of eye contact)let you know he trusted his Dad.

    George Sand, a world-famed 19th-century novelist, died a gruesome death while she was still relatively young. The state of medicine being what it was at that time, she suffered prolonged agonies from bowel obstruction (constipation) and no one knew how to save her life. Unbelievable, but true.

    Cats are good at hiding their misery, and good for you for knowing and caring about his plight. Myself, I’d not have injected coffee (because of the caffeine). But your man, with stunning gusto, did what needed doing, and was happy afterwards!

    Canned cat food may be less constipating, though cats can live for years on high-quality kibbles. Yet wet food may pass through him more rapidly. Maybe you could moisten his kibbles?

    Also – don’t know where you live – but there are pet food stores that charge substantially less than others. Down here, in my outpost of civilization, there are two feed stores that sell pricey canned cat food, plus the standard brands (Friskies, Fancy Feast, etc.). I’m not convinced you’re getting that much from the high-enders, all of which have queer-sounding fillers. If you go in the PoC archives, pull up Jo Singer’s articles. She wrote a killer essay, the gist of which is this: the manufacturers, whose motive is profit, are getting around the ‘zero-carb’ adverts by diluting the protein in their canned food with little dried fruits, random greens, squash (which is probably okay), and other ostensibly non-carb veggies that may or may not be all that wonderful for a cat. Her essay drove home that this is, in fact, a marketing ploy. By way of analogy, people these days are being warned about the health risks of ‘hydrogenated fats’ – which is why the manufacturers, on their Ingredients Label, are trotting out the fudge-term ‘intersified,’ in the conviction most people won’t know this type of procedure is even more toxic than hydrogenization.

    Eye-candy labels on costly canned cat food, according to Jo, may or may not be that healthful for cats. I bought these brands once in a while, but her essay made me think twice about shelling out big bucks for. . .what? Marketing hype?

    Different stores, as you know, charge different prices. Though Purina cat food isn’t ideal, Safeway (if you have it where you live), charges much more for the same brands and same flavors than Walmart. Whether you have one where you live, down here there’s a pet food store (‘Pet Sense’)that sells high-end, Fancy-Dan cat foods but also the standard brands at a dime+ to a quarter less than Safeway and other local supermarkets. I buy Friskies and Fancy Feast at this store, paying 56 cents for FF, and 50 cents for F. The difference in price? Safeway whacks you 79 cents for FF and 65 for F, and several hometown markets charge still more. So it makes sense to shop around.

    As a footnote to this, I’ve heard and read that liver isn’t that good for a cat. But a tablespoon of cooked chicken liver once a week is mildly laxative.

    At any rate, you described your best efforts to help your son, and portrayed a magnificent kitty-man who loves his dad!

    • Please forgive my inattention to the post that dear Michael Broad posted as an “article”.

      *Yes, Dee – I agree that some form of prophylactic treatment is EVER so indicated. I have been dosing him (and the other two kitties) with olive oil (and they are almost beginning to ‘like’ it), but it is not nearly as effective as I hoped. My little Dr. Itchy Brother is still ‘bound up’ and possibly “Glory Bound” because of this condition.

      I’ve seen him move from his “early eighties” in cat years to his “late eighties”, in just a few months. In our years, he is soon eighteen.

      I will endeavor to obtain some Lactulose, per your suggestion, Thank you!

      • MirraLax works inside cat by drawing water into the fecal matter, thus moistening and softening it, so it will pass through much more easily. You have to give it for about a week to see a difference, but it’s well worth it! It is completely tasteless and dissolves completely in water and it can be given “long term” safely. Lactulose can also be given, especially at the beginning to hasten results. Vegetable oils (such as olive oil or corn oil or coconut oil) are not effective because they are digested as food (because they are) and they will cause your cat to put on even more weight, which will exacerbate his constipation. ‘Mineral oil’ is the oil used for constipation because it is NOT digestible, thus passing right through the digestive tract and lubricating it to ease out the fecal matter! *BUT*… ONLY USE IT OCCASIONALLY … because it “coats” the lining of the intestines so that no nutrients from his food can be absorbed! This is fine if only used once in a while, but not often. 🙂

        • Ps. Be sure he has access to lots of clean, fresh drinking water, because he’ll need it! Just dissolve the Mirralax (generic is fine) in as little water as you need to administer orally, with a syringe. It thickens with time, so try to give it shortly after mixing. My vet said to “start” with a teaspoon of the powder, dissolved in water, 2-3 times a day. And remember it will take a few days to work, but my cat needed more than that, so I increased the amount over a week, or so, to a Tablespoon / twice a day. Once you get him ‘going’ again, don’t stop giving it to him. But you can adjust the amount and frequency, until you have a working schedule. Remember this condition probably won’t ever ‘go away’, it’s a chronic condition; but you can manage it so he isn’t living in that horrible pain. 🙂

    • As long as I am getting this all screwed up and posting a Reply to Dee under Silvia’s comment, I might as well continue and post my Reply to Silvia under the comment from Dee.

      (Ohh… please allow me to add: Dee, I ain’t no hero, dear – but thank you for the accolades. I’m just a regular kind of fellow, “owned” by three wonderful, loving kitties!)

      **Silvia (such a pretty name!) Thank you for the tips on the cat food (and other). The reason for the coffee is that it adds a “kick” when it is absorbed in the colon of mammals (myself included; I personally subscribe to this same ‘hygienic protocol’ when I participate) that supposedly ‘stimulates the liver’ and pancreas to expel stones and toxins from nether ducts.

      (“nether ducts”. Oh, my. I actually wrote “nether ducts” in a comment to an article about cat enemas. If I was on a medication, I might consider ‘adjusting’ it)

      The long and short of it is: I now juice ‘ol Itchy up when he looks like he needs it, and I let him crap anywhere he wants to now. It would be nice if in the wisdom of his years he would choose somewhere other than “anywhere”.

      It truly is a small price to pay – here at the “end of the run” – for near eighteen years of devoted friendship to me, and his lifetime of pure love and dedication to my late wife.

      Cats are why God made Carpet Shampooers.

  4. Thank you or the information.I have never had a kitty with this problem,but I do,I will have no problem with the treatment .Cant be much worse than giving an enema to a child and I have done that many times before.

    • I have gone through that having a child experience. A cat is like a child that just scratches, methinks.

      Cats might be easier, as they don’t start screaming “I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!! I HATE YOU!!!” when they get about thirteen years old.

      (“Swap Meets” for cats and kids might be a viable social exercise)

  5. I also have a male cat diagnosed with Mega Colon. After several visits to the vet and various meds and dietary changes I purchased a coffee grinder and grind his dry food to a powdered consistency and add a teaspoon to his wet food for flavor along with turkey flavored cisapride.

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