Ruffian With Megacolon


25th April 2004

Ruffian is in more trouble. Poor bloody cat. If it isn't one thing, it's another. Around Christmastime we noticed that she was having a lot of trouble shitting. She couldn't do it, she would strain, she would squeak, she would wail, and after these failures she would come complaining to us about it. So we increased the dosage of laxatives, and I trimmed her fur right back to short-hair status. She looked pretty rough after that as I don't do an even trim, I just hack and hack over a week until all the long hair is gone and she looks like a hairdresser's nightmare. That didn't work so we took her to the vet. Sometime in the past, we had problems with Ruffian's bowels getting blocked because of the amount of fur. So we wanted this checked. They took an x-ray and then looked up her and found she was full. But not blocked. So they gave her an enema. Poor bloody Ruffian. She was not happy when she came home, but that did solve the problem for a few days. Then she was straining and wailing again. So it was back to the vet and this time she was looked up and checked out but no real problem could be found. Took her home, dosed her on laxatives. Good for a day or two, then strain and wail again. Back to the vet again, still no problem found. Christmas Eve it got really bad, so we went back to the vet. We spent most of Christmas Eve sitting at the vets, talking about Ruffian and discussing her probable demise. This time, we got results. They took another x-ray and then came back and discussed it with us.

Look at the x-ray. I always knew Ruffian was full of shit. She is blocked. She is full. You can count each of those hard balls in her colon. Poor bloody cat.

[Ruffian's bowel x-ray]

Ruffian has megacolon. If you want to know the technical aspects, check this site. But basically, her colon has lost its elasticity, it's expanded so the diameter is larger than the anus, so she forms stools that are too big to exit the body, so she gets blocked up, and the fecal matter accumulates and gets toxic and then the cat dies. The vet told us we had a potentially dead cat on our hands unless we fix the situation. The simple solution - tinned pumpkin.

Yes, tinned pumpkin. They use pumpkin over here in pies, as in pumpkin pie, so it comes already pulped and pureed in tins. We had to feed this to Ruffian. The tinned pumpkin is about 21% fibre, but the main effect is that when it's in the bowel it draws water back from the body into the colon and it keeps the stools moist and soft and this makes them easy for the cat to pass.

So we took Ruffian home and we went to the supermarket, the dessert section, and brought home tinned pumpkin. But how to make Ruffian eat it? We tried it on its own. No go. She wouldn't look at it. So I took her favourite tin of cat food, and I mixed it 50-50 with the tinned pumpkin and put that in front of her and she sniffed it and sulked and walked away. Half an hour later, hunger and greed drove her back and she ate the lot. Then she lay around the house for an hour and then she went to the litter box. Anne watched. And Anne held the x-ray and counted the pellets. "There's number 1, and number 2, and ... wait for it ... number 3, and ...". Yes, Ruffian pushed out about 8 of those stools you see in the x-ray. Wow. Tinned pumpkin did that so quickly? Looks like it.

This is what we do - twice a day the cats get fed, they get a tin of cat food split between them, same volume pumpkin as cat food is added, I mush it together and reshape it in tinned shape, and then give it to them. They eat it now, except Redrum occasionally complains.

[The pumpkin fixings]

In this photo, Ruffian is looking to the future. She still strains a little and wails a little, but not much and not very often. As long as we keep the pumpkin in her, then she'll be okay. Tinned pumpkin is very cheap. It's sure reduced the cat food bill. And I haven't bothered cutting their fur again. Doesn't seem to be a need any more.

[Ruffian looking to the future]

And by the way, it was a mixed Christmas. Four visits to the vet in the week before Christmas cost me about $600 so that was the bad part. Finding a solution to Ruffian's problem and getting her fixed up was the good part. But gee, I wish I could have known about the tinned pumpkin BEFORE spending $600 at the vets.

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