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Animal Care Library

Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems.

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Constipation Species: cats

Is your cat having trouble doing his 'tows', straining at the 'back end' or completely 'bunged up'? Constipation is a relatively common problem in cats but if not treated or managed correctly it can become a serious condition requiring hospitalisation or even surgery.

What is constipation?

Constipation refers to infequent and difficult defecation. Constipation occurs when the movement of faeces through the colon (large intestine) is imapaired. As the faeces sit in the colon, water and salt are absorbed back into the body. This results in hard and dry faeces that are difficult for the animal to pass. If constipation worsens to the point where no defecation occurs, this is called obstipation. There are many causes of constipation, and although initial treatment is often successful, the underlying cause should be determined to prevent constipation recurring, and to see if the constipation is just a sign of another more serious disease.

What are the signs of constipation?

If your car goes outside to urinate and defecate, you may not observe the signs of constipation. These include straining and pain during defecation or passing either small or no faeces. As constipation progesses the cat becomes depressed, lethargic, innapetant and sometimes vomiting and dehydration occurs. Sometimes small amounts of fluid that looks like diarrhoea may be produced as the cat strains, so owners think their cat has diarrhoea and not constipation.

What are the causes of constipation?

Constipation or obstipation may be caused by many conditions, ranging form localised problems within the intestine itself to diseases affecting other body systems:

What is the treatment for constipation?

The treatment of constipation or obstipation involves the removal of faeces from the colon. This can be accomplished be enemas, administration of laxatives or drug therapy. In some cases, the cat needs to be sedated or anaesthetised to allow large amounts of soapy water to be used as the enema, and the hard faeces to be manually broken down. In some cases of obstipation, this process is repeated daily until all of the obstruction is passed. In addition, surgical removal of the damaged portion of the colon (colectomy) may be required in some cats with obstipation. A constipated animal usually is dehydrated so fluid therapy is often included in the treatment protocol. Treatment depends on the cause, but often includes addition of fibre in the form of psyllium to the diet to make the faeces softer and easily deformable to prevent recurrent episodes of constipation. Laxatives may also be required. If constipation progresses to obstipation, the prognosis is poorer becuase of damage to the wall of the colon and the risk of developing megacolon.

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