|A basic litter box and a bag of litter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Normally a cat has bowel movements once or twice a day. If the pet does not do it or strain to do it with hard feces, the cat is suffering from Constipation. It is a very common problem with cats and an occasional bout of Constipation is nothing to worry about.
But when a cat is chronically constipated it needs serious attention. As the cat's age, they are more prone to this problem. There are quite a few causes of Cat Constipation. Obstructions like hairballs, tumors and foreign bodies stop the movement of the feces inside the colon, and the fecal matter builds up. This becomes a hard dry mass and distends the colon, which loses its ability to contract and expel feces. This condition is known as megacolon.
When the cats are constipated they behave in a typical manner. They run to their litter box quite often and strain to pass stool. They make noise and start licking the anal area. They lose their appetite and become sluggish. Vomiting and passing a small number of liquid feces is quite common.
If the Constipation is not very severe, an enema will clear the colon. Hard impacted feces may have to be physically removed in a veterinary clinic under anesthesia. The intravenous liquid is also given to prevent dehydration.
After the bout of Constipation is cleared, the underlying problem, like an obstruction in the colon, has to be tackled. For the cats suffering from megacolon or an untreatable or unknown problem, a management regime has to be adopted. A high-fiber diet increases the bulk and assists in bowel movement. Increase the liquid consumption of the cat by feeding canned cat food rather than dry. Milk and soup can also be tried. We have to try and get the cat to consume liquid by a means that the cat likes.
If the megacolon is advanced, no amount of management can make it propel the stool to the exit. The only alternative is surgery. The colon is removed, and most surgeries are successful.