Feline Megacolon is a serious condition that can affect cats. As the name sounds, the disease causes a very large colon. While cats with this condition can not usually be cured without surgery, there are several things that can be done.
Most of the time a vet will diagnose megacolon by taking an xray. A radiograph of a cat with megacolon will show a very dilated colon filled with firm stool. The colon in this diagram to the right shows a colon that is at least twice the size of that of a normal cat.
Cats with megacolon will generally have extreme constipation. However, sometimes, when there is rock hard stool in the colon some liquid can get by and it can look like the cat has diarrhea.
Unfortunately it is difficult to tell sometimes whether a cat has megacolon or if the cat simply has constipation issues. The difference between the two is that when a cat has megacolon the colon will no longer function properly ever again. If there is simply constipation then once the cause of the constipation is resolved the cat should be able to defecate normally again.
Cats with megacolon have lost their ability to move stool through the large intestine. Megacolon is usually the result of a colon that has been stretched too much for too long. There are several possible causes of megacolon:
There are a number of things that your vet may do to help a cat with megacolon:
Once some of the stool is removed then there are a number of things that your vet may recommend to help to move your cat's bowels:
Do not try any of these methods for your cat without the advice of you veterinarian!
If a cat truly has megacolon (which means that the colon is not able to function at all) the only option may be to have surgery done. The surgery is called a subtotal colectomy. When a subtotal colectomy is done, the majority of the colon is removed. Most cats do very well after this surgery, however, there are a few important factors to know about this surgery:
Generally, however, cats who have a subtotal colectomy do extremely well. If your cat is having chronic problems with constipation then this is definitely a good option to consider.
Unfortunately there are some cats who just do not respond to the medical treatments for megacolon. If surgery is not an option and medical therapy is not working, unfortunately a good number of cats with megacolon need to be euthanized.
If you think your cat may have megacolon and you would like to talk to a vet about the situation, you can ask Dr. Marie an online vet question.
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