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Constipation in Cats

Constipation is a result of an abnormal accumulation of feces in the colon causing difficult and irregular bowel movements. In this, cats may experience abdominal pain due to straining, reduced frequency or absence of defecation. The colon stores feces and absorbs water content which creates very hard dry stool. Upon straining, blood or fecal liquid may pass through which may be confused as diarrhea.

This condition is quite common in middle-aged and older cats, however, may occur at any age. Causes may include hairballs, ingestion of foreign bodies, pelvic injuries, hind end muscle wasting, obesity, and idiopathic megacolon.

Megacolon is when the colon becomes dilated, distended and muscles are weakened. The colon loses its ability to contract efficiently leading to an accumulation of fecal material. Megacolon can be due to neurological impairment or a problem with the muscle lining the colon, or both. It can also be seen as a secondary condition following long-term constipation.

Diagnosis is generally made according to clinical signs and medical history. Generally, affected cats strain unsuccessfully to defecate and may vocalize in pain, feces passed are hard, dry and small. They may be lethargic, anorexia, and experience abdominal pain/distention, and vomiting. Often the veterinarian can palpate accumulated fecal material in the colon, to further diagnose radiographs would be needed to assess pelvic injuries, colonic strictures, or tumours.

Enemas followed by manual extraction of feces by a veterinarian is usually the initial treatment. Removal of feces often requires general anesthesia or sedation. If a tumour is present or megacolon is evident, surgery may be needed to remove the affected part of the colon which has a great prognosis. Intravenous fluids are usually required to correct fluid imbalances and dehydration that worsens constipation, and if recurrent, dietary management or medications may be indicated. In general, cats should defecate at least once every other day.

Written by: Briarwood Animal Hospital

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Last updated: June 25, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 15, 2020 some restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

2. SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

3. ONLINE CONSULTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

4. NEW PET OWNERS

Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

5. OPERATING HOURS

We are OPEN with the following hours:

- Monday to Friday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Saturday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
- Sunday: CLOSED

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Briarwood Animal Hospital