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No bowel movement after dentistry.

Species: Cat
Breed: abyssinian
Age: 11-15 years
Dear Dr Marie,
Thank you for creating this website.
I have a 12 year old male abyssinian cat with a constipation problem. He lives indoors, with no other animal, and eats cat tins. He has dry food as well but eats very little of it.

Two weeks ago he was given a teeth cleaning (I don’t know the engligh word, I am french) along with a gum gingivectomy, and a shot of antibiotics Convenia supposed to last 14 days, as well as regular vaccines that I hadn’t done in a long time.

Returning home, for the first two days he ate less than usual, which I put on the account of the pain of the operation with his teeth and gums. After a few days he became very picky with his food and would only eat raw meat that I bought him to try to make him better, as he loves it. Then after another few days he started eating fine again. But I noticed that he had stopped drinking water and was peeing less often and way less, like only once every 24h, where before he used to drink a lot and therefore pee a lot (I figured that may be this was normal, that may be it was before that he was drinking too much because of his teeth problems and that now that this has been fixed, he simply drinks less in a normal way - am I wrong ?). I noticed that he wouldn’t jump on furniture anymore like if it was painful or too much effort, he would sleep a lot and look not well, and he didn’t spend much time around me. And then I noticed that he was constipated. He only did stools once in 4 or 5 days, and it was like a short ribbon, not looking very normal (but no blood in it). I waited another couple of days to see if he got better, then I went to the vet.

The vet said the cat was not deshydrated. He did an x-ray, saw something long and weird looking and he gave him an enema to get it out. What came out what the same as what the cat had done at home, except longer, like 30cm, all attached, and not hard, with a dark brown color (but no foreign object in it). The vet then did a second x-ray, and all had come out, nothing showed on the x-ray anymore. The vet then said that if all was well, I should expect the cat to do stools again after 24h.

The enema was done on monday afternoon, the stools were expected around tuesday evening, we are now wednesday afternoon and still nothing... I called the vet, he said to wait another day or two then come back if nothing has happened and he will do another enema to prepare for a colonoscopy.

The cat’s blood tests results done before the thing on his teeth were entirely normal except for the red cells that were high.
GR : 11,13x10^12L instead of between 5.00 and 10.00
HCT : 52,6% instead of between 30.0 and 45.0
HGB : 15,3 g/dL instead of between 9.0 and 15.1

The cat looked way better after returning from the vet, he ate better and was jumping on furnitures again, spending time with me again, he really looked relieved, himself again. Then today, 3 days later, I’m getting the feeling he’s already slowly begining to look like he did before I took him for the enema.

My question is : does the fact that my cat still hasn’t done stools since the enema 3 days ago mean that this is very bad news, and if yes, what kind of bad news can I expect after the colonoscopy ? Also, is my vet right to tell me to wait another two days, or is it more urgent ?

Like any other cat owner I guess, I’m very close to him and devastated at the thought that he might have a cancer or something, as well as feeling helpless at the thought that he is in pain.
Any thoughts ?
Thank you very much in advance if you have time to answer me.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Spider is having such a hard time. Constipation issues in cats can be very difficult to figure out and to deal with. From what you have described though, it sounds like the most concerning issue is the lack of appetite. If Spider went a little while without eating or with not drinking much then this can definitely affect how much stool he has and what that stool looks like.

If he hasn't pooped since the enema, it could be that there is a constipation issue but I'm thinking it is more likely something else that is the problem. How is his appetite now? If he is eating and drinking a normal amount then I would be fine with waiting another day to see if there is a stool. However, if he is straining to poop and nothing is coming then I would take him back as soon as possible.

So what could cause a lack of appetite after a dentistry? There are several possibilities. It could be pain. If your vet feels there is pain present they may prescribe some pain medication. (There is nothing over the counter that is safe to give cats for pain.) It could be infection. He had a Convenia injection which is an antibiotic but sometimes Convenia is not the first choice of antibiotic for a mouth infection. It could be that he needs a different antibiotic. It's also possible that there is an organ problem such as a kidney problem. Even if the blood work was ok before surgery it's possible that the anesthesia brought out an issue that had not yet surfaced.

I think that if he is not eating well today then I would take him back in. Also, if he is straining to poop then I would take him back. Otherwise, if he seems to be doing well but still hasn't had a bowel movement in another 2 days it is a good idea to have your vet see him again.

Hope things look up soon.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer.
I just realize that I had forgotten to mention that he has been eating normally since the enema on monday. He is not drinking though. He pees once a day but is still not pooping. Not straining to, just not even trying.

I have noticed that his anus seems to be in pain... I tried to clean a little stain that remained on his fur after the enema and the way he tried to escape my hands gave the feeling that it was hurting him. I know he hates to be touched there, it's happened before that I have had to clean off something he hadn't, but this time he strongly reacted against it. Or may be it just brought back the souvenir of the enema that he seemed to have hated. I don't know... But this can't be the reason why he is not going, as last week this pain didn't exist and he was already not going...

Apart from not having had a bowel movement since the enema on monday, the rest seems all normal, he east normally, sleeps no more or no less than usual, spend time on the bed with me and cleans himself after eating. At this point, yes I'm getting the feeling too that it's something else than constipation, because what came out with the enema didn't look constipated, and if he felt that eating was constipating him and therefore hurting him, he wouldn't eat, right ?

Is there something I can do myself to help him have a bowel movement ?
Thank you in advance if you have the time to answer again.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry for the delay. I hope perhaps he has had a bowel movement by now.

It's good that he is happy and eating well. It may just be that he didn't have much in him after going for a while without food and then having the enema.

There really isn't much that I would recommend for helping him to have a bowel movement at home. If this continues then your vet may prescribe medication to help move his bowels but there really isn't an over the counter product I would recommend without having your vet's recommendation.

Customer reply:

Hi again,
Yes finally a bowel movement yesterday !
No I wasn't considering over the counter products, I know one should never do that, I meant add something natural to his food like olive oil or find a way to make him drink a bit more, things like that that I read all over the internet but as these answers are given by owners and not vets, I wanted your take on that.
But all is well now, so I thank you very much for your help !

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Glad to hear of the bowel movement! I wouldn't make any changes now but keep an eye on him.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.