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Konstipated Kitty

Photograph by Roger SmithDear John:

We have a 13 year old female cat. She has been a great pet, always very clean and very little problems. About a year ago she started crapping in the family room down stairs on the rug. Her litter box was in the next room clean and accessible. She will pee in the litter but not poop. We took her to the vet, he said she was severely constipated with hair balls. We have pumped tubes of this laxative he gave us into her for months to no avail. He suspects she has something called mega colon. She will go outside for hours, come in and run downstairs to pass her stools. They are quite large and firm. The vet says she won’t go in the litter box because she associates it with pain and will go else where to “do her business”. Any ideas ???? – JH

Dear JH,

When cats aren’t feeling quite right physically or mentally more often then not their bowel and/or bladder send us the message. I call it pee-mail. Sometimes it’s a physical problem, sometimes something is bothering them mentally. It may be some cat is making its presence known outside or worse some dog just took up residence in their house.

But most often our cats start spamming us, because they don’t think their litter box is clean enough. Just as Charles Richter developed a scale for measuring the magnitude of earthquakes, I have developed a scale for standards of household cleanliness. Each level is exponentially more demanding then the former. Dog Clean – “Mind if I sniff your butt?”, Child Clean – “Not at all”, Man Clean – “That looks clean to me.”, Woman Clean, – “Do it again. Oh never mind, let me do it.” and finally Cat Clean – “If you don’t see me using it, then it ain’t clean enough.” My point is that sometimes clean litter just won’t do the job. It has to be a new litter box.

It is odd she’ll pee but not poop in the box. I’m not sure I buy the avoidance due to pain idea. If it’s painful, she’d likely be switching from room to room instead just moving to the family room. Maybe it started that way and now that the constipation has been cleared up it’s now a bad habit which I would address to get her back on track with the addition of another brand new litter box for the family room gradually moved to accompany the location of the other. That usually works.

Your veterinarian must have had some suggestions beyond suspecting mega-colon and prescribing laxatives. Sometimes people leave out the part where the veterinarian says, “But in order to confirm or eliminate that possibility I’m going to have to . . .” All they hear is a cash register – Ka-Ching. There should have been an option of some testing beyond history and abdominal palpation and pumping tubes of laxative at the very least an x-ray. Your cat is getting up there in age and if it hasn’t had them already is over due for a range of tests and now is as good as time as any to have them done.

You can make you veterinarian’s job a lot easier, your pet live a longer more comfortable life and probably save money in the long run if well before your cat or dog approach their golden years you have a full chemistry panel, blood count, and urinalysis on file from when the animal is healthy. An x-ray wouldn’t hurt either. They’ll provide a baseline for future use so the vet can look at subsequent ones, look for differences and expedite treatment. It’s cheap insurance really.

– John Wade the Dog Trainer

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