How Long Can a Cat Live With Megacolon?

If your cat is suffering from megacolon, their stool will likely be thick and rock hard. Furthermore, you will likely see that they spend longer than usual in their litter box.

Treatment options for this condition in pets range from fluid therapy for dehydration, laxatives, colon-wall stimulants and enemas (though these don’t address the source), as well as surgical removal of any impacted fecal material through subtotal colectomy.

What is Megacolon?

Megacolon in cats occurs when their colon (large intestine) becomes distended and enlarged to such an extent that stool cannot be expelled normally, due to abnormal nerve control of colon muscles that inhibit proper contraction. It may be caused by disease, or severe constipation which has stretched and distended their colon, with symptoms including diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain being experienced as symptoms; left untreated it could become life-threatening.

To diagnose megacolon in cats, they will first need a rectal exam by a veterinarian. Fecal material in their colon should be felt and smell unpleasant; additionally, an abundance of gas should be present within their abdomen. At this point, a sample will be taken from their stool for testing to confirm megacolon.

Megacolon in cats may be treated medically or surgically depending on its source and severity. When administered medically, veterinarians usually attempt to help the cat pass stool regularly by administering medications like Cisapride and Lactulose as well as high fiber or low residue diets and stool softeners; stool softeners or even enemas. While these don’t address the core problem of an inability for its colon to contract properly, they can reduce further distension and toxicity in its colon.

If medical treatment fails, surgery to remove the non-functioning portion of the colon may be required to restore function. This usually entails subtotal colectomy but could even require total colectomy in severe cases. Unfortunately, surgical intervention can lead to complications like diarrhea and tenesmus (straining to defecate), leading to months of recovery from which complications such as diarrhea arise.

Constipation and megacolon are conditions that affect cats of any age, gender and sex; however, older cats are particularly prone to this issue due to an increase in medical issues leading to constipation compared to their younger or middle-aged counterparts. Hernias, cancer, pelvic fractures, neurological disorders as well as medications which reduce blood flow to the bowel can all increase the chances of megacolon. Cats suffering from neurologic issues such as spinal cord injuries are more prone to this issue as well.


At first, diagnosis of megacolon begins by gathering all available history information regarding your cat’s symptoms. Once that information has been compiled, a thorough physical exam will follow – palpating the large intestine for signs of distension as well as using x-rays if necessary to understand its full scope. Other diagnostic tests that may be recommended by veterinarians include blood work, urine analysis and abdominal ultrasound imaging.

At the core of megacolon treatment lies proper hydration for cats. Stored feces can become hard and dry over time, leading to irreparable blockage in their colon. Once dehydrated, fluids should be given intravenously (IV). After being properly hydrated, an enema or defecation should be administered in order to break up mass of feces; often requiring general anesthesia due to its pain-inducing effects; never give your cat an enema at home as this could prove fatal; also avoid Fleet phosphate enemas as these contain toxicants harmful for cats!

Once an impacted feces has been extracted from your cat’s digestive system, they will need to be hospitalized for further monitoring and treatment. Your vet may prescribe various medications designed to promote contractions within the colon and facilitate defecation – either orally or intravenously and will typically continue throughout their lifetime.

If your cat’s megacolon was caused by a fracture that has gone untreated, surgery to widen their pelvic opening is usually necessary – known as pelvic ostectomy – but risks associated with it are minimal; most cats return home shortly after undergoing this procedure. With regard to idiopathic megacolon, which has no apparent source, treating constipation might help to avoid future episodes and could eventually resolve altogether if managed appropriately.


Prognosis for cats with megacolon depends on its severity and the underlying cause. Mild or moderate episodes with short intervals between episodes may not require treatment at all, while cats experiencing chronic constipation lasting several weeks or more typically do require it. A diagnosis is determined based on physical exam, history review and signs; such as hard, dry feces in litter boxes or during bowel movements; pain when defecating; loss of appetite or weight loss; not behaving normally; vomiting and lethargy being just some indicators of megacolon.

An initial step in diagnosing megacolon in cats is a rectal examination. Here, a veterinarian can identify distended, enlarged colons filled with feces through this exam. Other diagnostic tests such as complete blood count (CBC), chemistry profile and urinalysis may also be administered, while abdominal x-rays may help evaluate large intestine health as well as assess causes for obstruction.

Megacolon can usually be treated through medical intervention using laxatives and stool softeners, muscle relaxants (like Cisapride), or drugs to stimulate muscle contraction in the colon (such as Cisapride). Dietary changes are sometimes necessary. An enema may also be necessary, often performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian; owners should never give an enema treatment directly or use Fleet phosphate enema products off-the-shelf as this can be highly painful and dangerous for their pet.

When faced with severe cases of idiopathic megacolon or long-standing constipation, surgery to relieve obstruction and restore function may be required to alleviate symptoms and restore functionality. A subtotal colectomy may provide effective relief; however, the procedure may result in diarrhea as well as potential recurrence of megacolon.

Cats that have experienced pelvic fracture and obstruction can be treated by extracting abnormal bones to widen the fecal canal (pelvic ostectomy). This surgery has an excellent prognosis and should help your pet regain normal functionality and end any symptoms of megacolon.


If your cat has been diagnosed with megacolon, it is essential that it receives prompt treatment. Early detection usually allows your feline friend to live a more normal lifestyle; available treatments depend on severity and cause.

At first, your vet will gather background information and perform a physical exam of your cat. In addition to these procedures, x-rays, blood work and stool sampling may also be recommended to rule out other conditions and confirm megacolon as the cause.

Megacolon in cats refers to an overly large colon that is packed with hardened, dry feces that impedes normal food movement into its anus, leading to constipation. Symptoms of megacolon may include pain when having a bowel movement; straining to defecate; loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and anemia as well as straining for defecation and straining to defecate.

Megacolon that occurs without apparent cause can be classified as “idiopathic”, meaning no definitive cause has yet been identified. These cats tend to develop the condition slowly over time. Once diagnosed, treatment typically includes laxatives and colon-wall stimulants as well as high fiber diet. A veterinarian may administer enemas or perform manual removal using anesthesia – all available solutions.

if your cat’s condition becomes severe enough to compromise their colon muscles, surgery will become necessary to address their disease. Under this procedure, their veterinarian will remove most of their large intestine in order to resolve the problem and avoid recurrences of their condition. Although recovery from such surgery can take more time and requires longer healing processes than other approaches, this approach usually offers success; contact your veterinarian if you suspect your feline friend might have this illness immediately.

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