Wednesday, 15th August 2012
with John D Owens M.V.B. veterinary surgeon.
Riverstown Business Park, Tramore Ph 051 393630
John Owens graduated from the Veterinary College U.C.D. in 1997. He, along with his wife Susan, recently opened Ani-Pets veterinary clinic in Tramore, which is dedicated to the full time care of all companion animals, including exotic pets. He has a special interest in preventative medicine and nutrition.
How can I help my cat?
Reader’s problem: "My cat, who is about 12 years old, is having problems going to the toilet. Every so often I will see him forcing and straining in the litter tray, and he will sometimes cry as if he is in pain. When I clean it out, there is only small quantities of dry, hard faeces. Is there anything that can be done to prevent this problem? Should I give him wet or dry food?"
Dear Reader, straining in the litter tray is quite a common problem in cats. Although you may correctly suspect that the cause in this case is constipation, i.e. failure to defecate normally, usually with frequent unsuccessful attempts, there are other diseases that can cause the symptoms you describe. These include colitis (inflammation of the colon) and FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease). I would recommend a visit to your vet in a case such as this to establish the exact cause of your cat’s abnormal behaviour, as this kind of situation can be very serious and present life-threatening complications.
Constipation itself is usually due to an impaction in the colon (large intestine). It can have a number of possible causes, and can be related to grooming behaviour, diet, inadequate water intake and infrequent defecation habits. Most normal cats will defecate on a daily basis, but cats with chronic constipation may only pass a stool every 2 to 3 days.
When cats groom themselves, they consume hair which can accumulate as hairballs in the digestive tract. Sometimes they will vomit them up, other times they can contribute to an impaction in the bowel. Impactions can also occur as a secondary effect of tumours, foreign bodies or neurological disease. Cats who have previously suffered from injury to the spinal cord or have had a fracture of the pelvis, both of which are associated with road traffic accidents, can suffer constipation due to either physical narrowing or obstruction of the pelvic canal or spinal/nerve damage which affects the normal function of the colon. Overweight, inactive cats are more prone to constipation, as are older cats who suffer with chronic constipation due to degenerative neuromuscular disease. Any cat that has lost its appetite, for whatever reason, is at risk of constipation, especially if it is not drinking sufficient water.
Diagnosis of constipation is made on the basis of physical examination by the vet and x-rays can be taken to visualise the extent of the problem. Treatment involves removing the obstruction or impaction if possible, and can involve enemas, laxatives, fluid therapy or even surgery. Prevention depends on the underlying cause, but could involve regular grooming, change of diet (often to a high fibre food), stool softeners/laxatives if needed, weight loss and increased water intake. There is no set rule whether wet or dry food food will help in this case, as I have seen cats with this problem on all variety of diets. Your vet will be able to recommend a suitable diet based on the diagnosis.
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Google AlertWhen a company which has it's European Headquarters here in Ireland is called 'evil' and 'immoral' by M.P.s in The House of Commons you tend to sit up and take notice. The particular company that was being referred to was Google and the reason it had enraged M.P.s in London was because even though it has a big operation there and conducts a lot of business there it pays no corporate tax. It does this by having all of its financial transactions finished here in Ireland. And the company here is …
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