What is feline megacolon?

Megacolon is a condition in cats that is a disorder of the bowels. The colon is the part of the bowels that stores feces, and it also has muscles as a part of it that push out feces when the cat uses the litter box. These muscles are governed by a series of nerves, and sometimes those nerves have problems and the muscles do not work properly as a result. The consequence of this is that the cat's muscles will stretch the size of the colon, causing it to enlarge several times beyond its normal size (thus the name "megacolon").

   

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What are the symptoms?

It causes severe constipation in cats, as they cannot properly excrete feces from their colon due to the problems with its muscles. The cat's belly and abdomen may seem to be larger than normal. The cat may seem to be straining to use the restroom, and it may cry in pain as it is using the litterbox. Vomiting and loss of appetite are also sometimes symptoms.

What causes the nerve problems that lead to megacolon?

Sometimes your vet will find a specific cause for the condition. This can be a tumor, a spinal injury, hairballs, or other random junk the cat swallowed that it shouldn't have. Sometimes it just happens and no one really knows why.

What is the treatment?

There are a couple of different options. Switching to a special diet is the least intrusive and can often work. These diets are designed so that the cat will actually use most of the material it eats and produce less feces, making it harder for it to clog up. This may be combined with laxatives, especially at first when the cat may be suffering from severe constipation. Surgery is another option, but it is probably better only if the case has gotten extreme by the time the cat gets to the vet or if the dietary option fails. The vet will remove part of the colon to allow the rest of it to work properly.

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