Impacted Colon in Cats

Impacted colon occurs when a large amount of feces gets clogged in the colon and can’t be excreted. Sometimes, the colon loses its flexibility due to which it enlarges and is bigger than the diameter of the rectum. This prevents the stool from passing out of the body which then collects in the colon, resulting in an impacted colon.

The wet and soft stools above this dry matter get excreted in the form of diarrhea. However, the dry feces continue to lodge in the rectum and cause an obstruction. If the cat is dehydrated, the colon might draw water from the mass of feces lodged in it, which in turn makes it dryer and harder. Moreover, additional stool moves into the full colon and can lead to a serious situation. Many complications such as irritable bowel syndrome, obstruction of the bowel and hemorrhoids result from an impacted colon.

Susceptibility to Impacted Colon

An impacted colon is found in cats with chronic constipation. Some breeds of cats such as the Siamese or the Manx are at greater risk of developing an impacted colon. Older cats develop this condition suddenly with no underlying reason for it. In addition, males are more susceptible than females. Obese cats are also more prone to impacted colon and related gastrointestinal disorders.

Causes of Impacted Colon in Cats:

  • Dietary causes include the ingestion of bones, hair, and foreign material. Inadequate amount of water ingestion is also a cause.
  • Environmental causes attributed to impacted colon include stress, a dirty litter box, and decreased exercise.
  • Traumatic causes of impacted colon include injuries to the hind area, fractured pelvis or a bite wound. These injuries might cause nerve damage that leads to a decrease in colon flexibility.
  • Obstructive causes are stricture of the anus, infection of the anal sac, hair matted across the opening of the anus, tumor of the rectum or colon, and a narrowing of the pelvic canal.

Symptoms Include:

  • Painful defecation
  • Blood in the feces
  • Straining
  • Passage of small, dry, and hard stools or no stools
  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Collapse


The vet will try to induce defecation by administering an enema. An impacted cat will most likely be dehydrated. Hence, it’s necessary to give fluids to the cat. After it’s ensured that the cat isn’t dehydrated, administration of laxatives helps to ease defecation. There might be a need for surgery to remove hardened feces, if other treatment options aren’t able to resolve the problem. The vet will also recommend blood tests to ascertain the cat’s health before the surgery.

Medical Management

If a cat is prone to constipation, it’s advisable to include fiber in the diet. Care should be taken to ensure that he consumes sufficient amount of water. Laxatives might also be necessary.

An impacted colon is very painful if left untreated and can also result in fatality. Pet owners should be alert and keep a sharp look out for any symptoms exhibited, to ensure a healthy and pain-free pet.