Categories: Cat Health

Megacolon In Cats

Megacolon in cats is not listed in the index of probably the best book on cat health care, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson and Giffin. That indicates that it is not a condition that is common (or the people who indexed the book missed it!).

However, searching the book manually, on page 199 (of the 1995 publication) it says that megacolon in cats can cause chronic constipation. This is because megacolon is an enlarged colon that does not work properly (contract effectively).

The book goes on to say that a cat suffering from megacolon requires a special diet and “stool softeners” under veterinary supervision.

The condition of severe of chronic constipation has been called megacolon. The colon becomes enlarged with compacted faecal matter1.

Most of the time the cause of megacolon in cats is unknown (“idiopathic” in medical jargon). Possible causes are:

  • Abnormal intestinal muscles
  • Narrow pelvic area (possibly due to injury)
  • Nerve injury
  • Spinal deformities due to genetic mutations (e.g. Manx cat)
  • Cancer (rarely)

Middle aged cats are more prone to suffer from this disease as are male cats. Passive, sedate and overweight cats may be more prone to contract it1.

As megacolon causes chronic constipation the symptoms of megacolon are the symptoms of constipation and we as humans probably understand those. In addition to not using the litter to defecate a chronically constipated cat might:

  • Look bloated
  • Be lethargic
  • Pick at food
  • Have a watery blood-tinged stool (liquid stool forced around the compacted blockage in the colon).

A vet checks for faecal compaction using their hands (“digital examination”).

Clearly a vet will have to establish the cause of constipation in the cat to then recommend treatment. The classic treatment is feeding a high-fiber diet. Commercial cat food for senior cats has a high fiber content. In addition faecal compaction is dealt with using laxatives and enemas. Sometimes fluid replacement is indicated2.

I have a page on cat constipation, which lists treatments.

Note:

1. http://www.peteducation.com

2. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated

Comments for
Megacolon In Cats

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Dec 15, 2010Thanks Jo
by: MichaelThanks Jo for adding to this post. It is nice of you.

Dec 14, 2010Regarding Megacolon
by: Jo SingerThanks Michael for posting about this rather incidious condition which can often be difficult to treat.This said, megacolon in cats in the United States is fairly common, especially in older cats. Siamese can be prone to this condition.
There is an excellent support group on Yahoo groups, in fact for folks who are caring for kitties that have this condition. It is quite active with 1275 members at this time. Folks can access the group through the web searching with “megacolon and yahoo support groups”

I had a megacolon Siamese cat named Mousie Tongue (bad pun) who suffered from MC.

We were able to successfully treat him for a few years with the “gold standard” of medications which include Lactulose and cisapride, along with stool softeners. He responded to medication for about two years, but then as the condition worsened, although we treated him and watched his diet, and made sure he got exercise, he stopped responding.

My vet performed a sub-total colectomy which removes part of the lower intestine that is no longer functioning due to distension from what I understand.

Sadly, while he recovered from the surgery, he did not survive. Necropsy report showed that he also had cardiomyopathy. The veterinarian, a dear friend of mine, who performed the surgery was devastated when he died in my arms at her clinic where he was in ICU. I will never stop missing this amazing kitty.

Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM has an excellent article online about megacolon and treatment options. That can also be found on the web.

This is a very troublesome disease which has many implications and folks with cats that have it must be prudent in following all treatment options carefully.

Thankfully there is an abundance of information about MC available for folks today, and some amazing support available as well.

My holistic veterinarian has informed me that acupuncture can be very helpful in managing this disease.

One of the light hearted joys in the group was when folks announced their happy dances when their kitty “pooped”. I could certainly identify with that.

Again, thanks for bringing this condition to the attention of your readers.

Jo Singer


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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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