August of 2014, I decided to adopt a four-month-old kitten from Island Rescue Organization (you can read about it here). Since then, we have given him the best life we can offer. He has been fed well, neutered, vaccinated and dewormed regularly, etc. He became chonky. At one point, he was 8.7 kilograms, and the vets started warning me that his obesity would cause health problems soon. And I didn’t listen. I thought it was cute that our Admiral Gizmo is chonky. And true enough, his obesity did catch up to bite us.
In January of 2020, we noticed that he started straining whenever he pooped. We brought him to the vet where they took blood samples and had him go through an x-ray. The vets said he was simply constipated. We were given prescriptions for laxatives, multivitamins, fiber food supplements, and probiotics for his digestive health. A few days later, he was able to pass stool. Little did we know it was just the onset.
From then on, time and time again, he’d be constipated, and we just relied on laxatives to help him pass stool. June of 2021, he started showing several other signs and symptoms. He became lethargic, he lost his appetite, and yowled occasionally. We brought him to the vet we were told he had some sort of infection and some protozoa and worm infestation (despite our regular deworming). We were prescribed co-amoxiclav, which we administered at home religiously. After two weeks, we returned to the vet for a follow-up visit and were told that the infection was still there, along with the parasitic infestation. We were advised to continue the same antibiotic for another, and we did. Gizmo seemed to recover, and we were grateful.
A month passed, and we noticed that Gizmo started showing the same signs and symptoms, so we brought him again to the vet. The same thing, they took blood and stool samples and, then, prescribed the same antibiotic for two weeks. At this point, I was already skeptical about the treatment (I remember being told that when a certain antibiotic did not yield any result, a different one should be tried), but I trusted their approach since that is their field of expertise. After two weeks, there was no sign of recovery from Gizmo; we were told to extend the antibiotics for another week.
Weeks passed, and Gizmo started losing weight. He was constipated, so we gave him laxatives as instructed by the vet. Despite that, he couldn’t pass stool. His softened stool would leak from his anus, but he still cannot poop on his own. I started looking for answers on the internet and found that Gizmo’s symptoms were very similar to those of cats with megacolon. When I returned to the vet, I expressed the idea that Gizmo may have megacolon, and they were quick to dismiss it saying they didn’t notice anything that indicated that. I believed them. They told us to continue with the antibiotics and laxatives for two more weeks.
November of 2020, Gizmo has lost nearly three kilos; he was down from 8.5kg to 5.2kg. At this point as well, he hasn’t passed stool for more than 10 days. We rushed him to the vet and asked if they can perform an enema to relieve the impacted stool from Gizmo’s digestive tract. They refused saying it’s too stressful for Gizmo. Instead, they asked us to have him admitted to their clinic so Gizmo can fast and have enough fluids in his body through IV. We yielded. They had Gizmo on IV without food for 5 days. They administered antibiotics and vitamins through IV as well. Gizmo was discharged in early December without being able to defecate, except for the leaking watery stool from all the laxatives he was given. They tried to give him an enema but gave up too soon because Gizmo resisted too much. They suggested having Gizmo go through surgery to manually remove the impacted stool, but it was too risky given Gizmo’s age (he is close to eight years old already). We went home and continued to give Gizmo probiotics and laxatives, which seemed to help.
March of 2021, Gizmo started showing signs of straining again. At this point, his stool had been leaking but he was still obstipated. He hadn’t passed stool for almost two weeks already, and his past signs and symptoms recurred. Thinking we won’t get answers from our usual vet about Gizmo’s condition, we decided to take him to a different vet.
When we brought Gizmo the new vet, he immediately told us to have Gizmo admitted, go through an x-ray and several blood tests, and to have him go through several other assessments. The next morning, we were told that Gizmo has chronic inflammatory bowel disease (colitis) and megacolon, which is why he couldn’t pass stool—something our previous vet dismissed when I suggested the idea. He needed to be on antibiotics from the infection caused by his impacted stool, and he was also given several other meds for his IBD. We were told they could remove the impacted stool without performing any surgery, but he needed to be sedated so it wouldn’t stress him out.
Five days later, Gizmo was discharged. His bowel movement seemed to be doing well. He no longer strained when pooping. We were given several instructions to regulate his diet and only feed him a low-residue and high-fiber diet along with probiotics and laxatives as needed. Our new vet made us understand Gizmo’s condition and prescribed maintenance medication that will help him pass stool easily. However, it doesn’t always help, and he still struggles to pass stool from time to time.
With his megacolon, osteoarthritis, and chronic inflammatory bowel disease, he now needs to have regular enema since he cannot pass stool on his own anymore. His diet needs to be regulated and homemade (a mixture of squash, chicken meat, fish, chicken liver, and fish oil all blended together in a food processor). He needs to be on osmotic laxatives and prokinetics almost always, he has lost so much weight since then; he is now at 3.6kg, which is now ideal for his age.
If anything, we have learned anything, it’s that, regardless how cute chonky cats may seem, that is very unhealthy for them. It’s best to always regulate your cats’ diet and health. It’s not easy watching your fur babies suffer.