Parents Speak
My Megacolon Kitty
By Stacy Mitchum
September 15, 2012

Marie is six and has had a very trying life. She developed megacolon shortly after her birth due to a fractured
pelvic bone that healed wrong. She was about five weeks old when I got her and it had healed then so it
probably happened during or shortly after she was born. We have spent thousands of dollars on her. She has
tried most all of the vet meds - Latulose, Cisapride, DSS capsules and Laxitone along with many different diets.
We are keeping it under control now with Miralax and occasional DSS capsules.

Marie was found by my husband on a very hot July day in 2006 standing in the middle of a parking lot outside of
one of the shop buildings where he works. We believe the mother separated her from the litter because she
knew she was sick. She was a kitten of one of the shop cats and was about five weeks old. She had popsicle
sticks taped to her front left leg, was very skinny and her fur quality was very poor. The guys thought her leg was
broken, it turned out that she had a dislocated elbow which had mostly healed. I took her straight to the vet
where the sticks were removed and it was determined she had a very bad stomach infection. She was given
Albon and Nutrical. Two weeks later we noticed that she was having a rough time trying to poop, straining and
crying and nothing coming out.

I took her back to the vet for her first of many overnight stays. Her x-rays showed she had megacolon and also
showed that she had a fractured pelvic bone that had healed up too narrow. We don't know what happened to
cause this injury, it was on the same side as the dislocated elbow and her left eye is also slightly different. The
vet speculated it could have happened during a hard birth or perhaps the mother dropped her, but we are sure it
happened during the first few days of week of her life.
The vet gave her several enemas and sent her home
with Lactulose and Laxitone to see if that would keep
her regulated, but it didn't. Diet was discussed on the
next visit and Metamucil was added to her diet. It
made her worse very fast. She had to have more
enemas and stay overnight at the vets so they could
keep track of her "intake and outcome". It went on like
this for months, some months she was at the vets
more than she was home. She was put on an all meat
diet, no fiber of any kind. The new diet helped but she
continued to have problems and they were getting
more severe as time went on resulting in her having to
be knocked out and manually cleaned out. DSS
capsules and stool softeners were added on a as
needed basis in an attempt to keep her from getting so
stopped up. They helped a little.
In 2009 when she had just passed her 3rd birthday she had one of the
worst spells ever, another manual clean out and another six days at the
vet for enemas and stomach massages. I can't count the number of times
she had to do this in her first three years. When I picked her up this time
the vet followed me to the car. Always bad news when he does this, he
said he did not feel comfortable doing any more manual clean outs
because her colon was just too fragile and she had bled some during this
one. He told me the next time she got uncomfortable it would be best to
let her go.

At this time she was put on Cisapride, it is a last resort in my vet's
opinion. It had to be special ordered and was kind of expensive but we
were grasping for straws at this point. The Cisapride gave her terrible
stomach cramps and her appearance started to decline rapidly. There
were several times in the following months that I was ready to take her in
for the last time and then she would leave me a pile in the litter box. But
she was miserable and I was sure we would not have her much longer.
In 2010 a friend on the internet told me about Miralax and how much to give her each day. I asked the vet first
who said it would not hurt her. The Miralax was working! I started weaning her off of the vet drugs, the Cisapride
was the first to go, then the Lactulose and eventually the Laxitone too. The DSS capsules we still used with
flare-ups. The vet was amazed that the Miralax worked so well and so were we. She had been taking three
doses of Cisapride, three doses of Latulose, three doses of DSS and Laxitone as needed daily and then she
was down to only the Miralax mixed in her food and the DSS as needed.

In 2012 she still has some minor flare ups, but only sees the vet about twice a year compared to the sometimes
two and three times monthly like she had been. Megacolon seems to affect each cat differently. The norm is to
add fiber, but like in Marie's case that did more harm than good. There is a surgical procedure that removes the
colon, but it is risky and most cats end up with the drippies for the rest of their lives after that and in Marie' case
she would also have to have her pelvic bone reset for it to work.

There are a few things that always seem to accompany megacolon; throw-up spells are usually the first sign
Marie is about to have a flare up, most don't have that until they are already "full". She has always had a
sensitive tummy. Also there is real danger in just assuming a cat that can't poop is constipated only. Megacolon
kitties are often lost because the colon ruptures and the poop actually poisons them. Leakage is also the most
common reason the repair surgeries fail, it is risky.

Megacolon varies so much from cat to cat, I never found any specific site that matched up with Marie. Marie has
one stretch of colon only a few inches long right at the end that is affected to the point of overstretching. Her
megacolon is believed to have been caused from her injuries, like many cases are. She retains poop for so long
sometimes it comes out as hard as bricks, which is one of the biggest problems with megacolon, one of the
colon's jobs is to dry/absorb excess liquid and it never stops doing that. There are a lot of good articles out there
on megacolon but most are textbook cases which most cats do not fit.

For more information on feline megacolon see:
www.acvs.org/animalowners/healthconditions/smallanimaltopics/megacolon/
www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2122&aid=3471
www.manhattancats.com/Articles/mega_colon.html
Support group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Feline_Megacolon/
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