Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Southeastern USA
Outdoor cat with megacolon, advice needed
Hello! I have a predicament with one of my 8 outdoor (on a farm) cats and was looking for some advice.
So one of our cats, Runty (neutered, vaccinated overweight 8 yo cat), was diagnosed with megacolon on May 7th 2018. We have never had any serious health issues with our cats, they have been typical outdoor cats until now just eating kibble and walking around etc. So it was a shock. It is amazing that we noticed that he had it at all since he is outside. Basically in early May we noticed that he was having difficulty going #2 (sitting in the yard trying to go for ages). We assumed it was worms since another cat had tapeworms. After all the cats had been treated for tapeworms though (a couple days later) he was still doing it. We tried giving him tuna in oil and olive oil to no avail. By May 7th he couldn't walk 20 feet in the yard without trying to go (by this time nothing was coming out #1 or 2). So we took him to the vet. The vet looked him over and after hearing that he couldn't go #1, said that it was extremely likely that he had urinary crystals (typical of neutered cats his age) and would need special food/medication for the rest of his life. She said that if he had this it would not be a one time thing and would need continuous care. We couldn't afford that and prepared to have him euthanized as he is an outdoor cat plus we couldn't monitor his litter box food etc as he is outside with 7 other cats. However we did say to at least confirm that was what it was and left him there. On the way home the vet called and said it was not urinary crystals and that he was constipated (so constipated he couldn't go anything). They kept him at the vet overnight and sedated and gave him an enema and x ray. We requested no medication. They had to sedate him because he is so fat the vet couldn't feel his colon. They said he responded well to the enema and had gone so much in the morning they had to give him a bath. They said that the stool was normal, there was just a LOT of it. When we came back in the morning to get him, the vet showed us the x ray and said he has megacolon. She said he would likely need medication but most cats with it end up being euthanized. She said that the fact that he responded so well to the enema (didn't need manual extraction) was a good sign though. We decided to take him home and if he relapsed we would have him euthanized. We got some wet food on the way home (we have never fed our cats wet food) thinking maybe that would help him. Right after we got home we saw him go #2 so we were hopeful. We started giving him 2 mini (half the size of regular) cans of wet cat food a day. This is in addition to the bowl of dry food all the cats eat from. I googled cat megacolon and did not have a good feeling, everything I read the cats were indoors and many had to be euthanized eventually or on expensive medication long term with side effects. Then I saw something that said Miralax was a cheap laxative that drew water into the colon and had no side effects. I thought, since we are already giving him wet food we could just add this to it. So I started giving it to him starting at 1/4 tsp. The next couple weeks were a disaster of me experimenting amounts of miralax, following him around the yard constantly to see if he goes, scares where he tried to go but didn't, and me thinking maybe it would be better to just put him down. Also trying to get him to drink more water which is hard since he is outside and water gets dirty fast.
But by early June I had a system in place:
In the morning I give him wet food mixed with a little water (oatmeal consistency) in a rabbit cage with a net over the door since the other cats steal his food. He has figured out how to leave the cage when he is done without letting them in. This took a while to train him.
In the evening I carry him into the back yard and he goes #2 (I have been documenting he has been going almost every day for weeks). However I am not 100% sure when he is going as he is outdoors. He is a very playful cat though (loves chasing string)
In the evening I give him 1/4 + 1/8 tsp Miralax in the broth from his food
Then I give him his food mixed with water to a soup consistency
Note that he rarely eats all his food (he just drinks the liquid out and leaves most of the meat) much to the delight of the other cats who all wait around the cage while he eats
He is still eating dry food (this food: Purina cat chow healthy weight the rest of the time)
Okay so here are my problems:
I know that the dry food is junk, but I am scared to switch it because after researching online the high fiber may be helping with his constipation. It actually has higher fiber (6.5%) than Royal Canin Fiber Response, which seems to be what a lot of people feed their megacolon cats for dry food.
I also read that the "healthy weight" food is a trick, the high fiber actually makes them gain weight
I read that at some point the miralax may stop working
He is fat, and so is another one of the cats (10 yo Rusty who is 20 something pounds) but I have no way to diet them without the other cats eating their food or vice versa
I know it seems strange that outdoor cats would be fat, but those two are SO lazy, you wouldn't believe.
I do not provide income in my family and I know we could not afford any drastic, expensive measures with the cats. I did research better dry foods for them before he got megacolon but now I am unsure what to do. They all eat out of the same bowls so I'm afraid if I switch the food, then Runty might get stopped up again. But then again the food is unhealthy for the cats (makes them fat) so...?
If anyone has any tips as to inexpensive ways to help with Runty's megacolon seeing as he lives outside with multiple other cats, they would be appreciated. Am I doing anything wrong with the miralax? Even thought they are outdoors I want to help them best I can.