This article goals to elucidate the main points of megacolon in cats, a standard problem. This is a straightforward, clear rationalization in regards to the situation for pet house owners.

What Is Megacolon?

Megacolon is a situation the place the decrease a part of the digestive tract (the colon) turns into grossly enlarged, stuffed with a considerable amount of fecal materials that the cat is unable to cross. “Mega” means “enlarged” and “colon” is the title of the a part of the digestive tract that’s affected by this dilation (widening) and dysfunction.

The gastrointestinal tract consists of the abdomen, small gut and huge gut. The massive gut is then divided into the colon, the rectum and the anus, which is the place feces emerges. So the enlarged space in megacolon is the colon, between the small gut and the rectum. This is the realm of gut in entrance of the pelvic canal.

Megacolon is a kind of extreme constipation (also called obstipation) the place the feces can’t be handed in any respect, and it accumulates within the colon, inflicting it to turn into over-full with a stable mass of fecal materials.

When the colonic easy muscle is overstretched for a time period, it turns into floppy, like a balloon that has been inflated then deflated, and colonic motility is dramatically lowered. This removes the flexibility of the colon to push feces alongside within the regular method, inflicting a good higher retention of feces and impaction, which additional dilates and damages the colon.

Megacolon is often seen in small animal veterinary apply, the place it’s most frequently seen in cats, and fewer usually seen in canines.

How Common Is Megacolon?

Megacolon is a standard situation in cats, particularly in middle-aged animals (the typical age is round six years of age). Male cats usually tend to undergo from this, making up 70% of instances, in comparison with 30% in feminine cats.

This is seen mostly in home short-haired cats, however it’s additionally seen in home long-haired cats, and it’s seen in Siamese cats greater than in different pedigree breeds.

How Do Cats Get Megacolon?

Megacolon has a number of doable causes, so as of incidence as follows:

  • Idiopathic megacolon (i.e. the trigger can’t be recognized) 62%
  • Pelvic canal narrowing (e.g. after a highway accident) 23%
  • Nerve damage (e.g. spinal illness) 6%
  • Congenital spinal wire deformity (e.g. Manx cats) 5%
  • Other causes embrace mechanical obstruction (e.g. intestinal tumors, strictures of the bowel, and infrequently, long-term obstructions brought on by overseas our bodies.)

Symptoms Of Megacolon In Cats

Symptoms of megacolon are similar to these of constipation and often embrace lowered or absent defecation, ache on passing feces, straining as if attempting to cross feces, and so on.

Chronic constipation is one of the best ways to explain the signs of megacolon. The essential medical indicators seen by house owners are often linked to the habits of the affected cats round defecation.

  • Reduced or absent defecation
  • Pain on passing feces
  • Straining as if attempting to cross feces (so-called tenesmus), however nothing being handed
  • Dullness
  • Swollen stomach
  • Painful stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Inappetence
  • The presence of blood or mucus on the anus
  • Sometimes a tough swelling could be felt on palpation of the stomach
  • Longer time period, weight reduction could also be famous
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Causes Of Megacolon In Cats

In practically two thirds of instances (62%), the trigger can’t be recognized, and such instances are categorised as “idiopathic”. Nearly one in 4 instances (23%) are brought on by narrowing of the pelvic canal (corresponding to after pelvic fractures in a highway accident) which causes a partial obstruction, then resulting in megacolon.

Around one in twenty instances (6%) are brought on by disruption of the nerve provide to the colon, corresponding to spinal wire damage. Another one in twenty (5%) are brought on by a congenital abnormality of the anatomy of the area. There are additionally different, rarer causes.

Diagnosis Of Megacolon

If your DVM veterinarian suspects that your cat might have megacolon, the next steps could also be taken. As properly as confirming the analysis, it’s vital to determine the underlying trigger in order that essentially the most applicable remedy could be given.

1. Detailed History Taking

Your vet will focus on each facet of your cat’s situation and total well being care, with a specific deal with a dialogue of your pet’s bowel actions.

There are different circumstances that may trigger related indicators as megacolon, and this historical past will assist to find out exactly what’s happening. If you possibly can take video footage of your cat making an attempt to cross feces, this can be useful.

2. Physical Examination

Your veterinarian will verify your cat over fastidiously, and particularly, they may fastidiously palpate your cat’s stomach. A tough, tubular-like mass can often be felt, representing the colon stuffed with laborious feces.

Signs of dehydration could also be seen, and on rectal examination with a gloved finger, narrowing of the pelvic canal could also be famous (e.g. previous pelvic fracture).

3. Routine Laboratory Tests

It’s very probably that your veterinarian might perform blood work, together with the same old panel of diagnostic assessments, corresponding to hematology (blood rely) and biochemistry profiles.

In an uncomplicated case of megacolon, these blood assessments will often be regular, though they are often helpful in figuring out your cat’s hydrations standing. A metabolic profile might embrace electrolyte assays.

Urinalysis could also be carried out as a part of a normal overview of your cat’s well being.

4. Diagnostic Imaging

Radiography (x-rays) is often carried out: this may clearly present the diploma of megacolon, with amassed feces simply seen within the ascending, transverse and descending colon. Radiographs can even enable bony constructions to be evaluated, together with the width of the pelvic canal and the presence of spinal illness.

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Images can even be screened for any proof of neoplasia (tumors) that may very well be inflicting a partial obstruction of the digestive tract which may trigger megacolon.

Ultrasound might also be used, for higher analysis of sentimental tissue constructions across the megacolon.

Advanced imaging (corresponding to CT or MRI scans) might not often be advisable if detailed evaluation of particular areas is required.

Occasionally, colonoscopy could also be used to visually examine the inside of the colon.

Treatment Of Megacolon

Megacolon is often handled with medicines (laxatives, stool softeners, colon wall stimulants and excessive fiber diets), and in the end surgical procedure.

  • The main remedy is the instant removing of the buildup of feces within the colon, which can contain repeated enemas and handbook removing of feces, usually below sedation or normal anesthesia.
  • Correction of dehydration with intravenous fluid remedy is commonly wanted to facilitate the passage of feces: the extra dehydrated the cat is, the extra stable, dry, and laborious the impacted feces can be.
  • Once the impacted feces has been eliminated, the aim of remedy is to take measures to forestall the feces from accumulating once more.
  • Low-residue, prescription-only diets are sometimes advisable
  • High fiber diets and fecal bulking brokers might generally be prompt
  • Prescription medicines could also be advisable to extend the motility of the colon (so-called prokinetic merchandise), together with medicine corresponding to cisapride and others. These are highly effective, prescription solely medicine and may solely ever be used on particular directions out of your veterinarian.
  • Other medicines could also be advisable to lubricate the feces, corresponding to laxatives (e.g. oral liquid paraffin), or stool softeners corresponding to lactulose, which stays inert till it reaches the colon, when it attracts fluid into the colon, including fluid to the feces.
  • In excessive instances the place medical administration shouldn’t be adequate to alleviate the obstruction , or when it retains recurring regardless of medical remedy, surgical remedy to take away the enlarged colon (whole or sub-total colectomy) could also be advisable.

Monitoring And Prognosis

Megacolon usually recurs, so monitoring your cat’s litterbox habits is vital. This will assist you to determine any recurrence on the earliest stage doable (i.e. in case your cat stops passing feces usually, or if they’ve issue passing feces). Early remedy of the issue is extra prone to be efficient.

Physical rechecks by your veterinarian to palpate the stomach are additionally vital, and if doubtful, repeated radiographs could also be taken to observe the dimensions of the colon.


Megacolon is a severe illness affecting cats, highlighting the necessity for cat carers to observe their pets’ litter field habits daily, in order that any adjustments of their defecation habits could be rapidly recognized. Prompt veterinary care is vital if a cat does develop indicators of megacolon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of megacolon in cats?

A cat with megacolon will pressure when attempting to cross feces, however will often cross little or no, or nothing in any respect, regardless of nice effort. A hint of blood and mucus could also be seen on the anus. The cat might have a swollen stomach, and could also be uninteresting, and unwilling to eat. They must be taken to your veterinarian immediately.

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How do you deal with megacolon in cats?

You must take your cat to the vet.  First, intensive remedy is required to filter the impacted colon, after which medical and dietary remedy is often given. If this isn’t profitable, surgical choices can be found.

What do you feed a cat with megacolon?

There are completely different theories, and it’s best to focus on this intimately with the veterinarian treating your cat. The two commonest suggestions are:
Low-residue, prescription-only diets that produce a really small quantity of feces
Higher fiber diets, that produce bulkier however much less dense fecal materials that is much less prone to turn into impacted

How a lot does it value to deal with a cat with megacolon?

It is inconceivable to estimate this value, as there are such a lot of completely different doable components in every case. You ought to all the time ask your veterinarian for an in depth estimate earlier than agreeing to proceed with any remedy. Costs may fluctuate from $400 for a easy case to $6000 or extra for an exceptionally complicated case of megacolon requiring surgical intervention corresponding to colectomy.

What could cause megacolon in cats?

In most instances (62%), the reason for megacolon in cats is unknown. The subsequent commonest trigger is injury to the pelvis, inflicting narrowing of the pelvic canal (e.g. after a highway accident). Other causes embrace issues with the nerve provide to the colon, a congenital spinal abnormality in some cats, and infrequently, mechanical obstruction brought on by intestinal tumors, overseas objects and so on.

How do I do know if my cat has megacolon?

The essential indicators, as listed above, are issue passing feces (straining unproductively, usually with discomfort, within the litter field), in addition to dullness and inappetence. Sometimes a swollen stomach is famous, and different indicators embrace dehydration, vomiting, and blood or mucus on the anus.

Is megacolon deadly in cats?

Most cats do survive, however cats handled medically are inclined to undergo recurrences that want ongoing remedy, and generally the problem turns into more and more troublesome to deal with successfully. Cats handled with surgical procedure usually tend to obtain full remission with no recurrence.

Is cat megacolon contagious to different cats?

No. Megacolon shouldn’t be brought on by an infectious agent, so it won’t unfold from cat to cat.

How severe is megacolon in cats?

This could be a very severe and life threatening illness, requiring pressing veterinary remedy.


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