Whenever an intestinal obstruction occurs in a cat, his or her health will gradually deteriorate until the condition becomes life-threatening. The likelihood of a full recovery is significantly increased when the disease is detected and treated early. The presence of signs of intestinal obstruction should be treated seriously, and immediate veterinarian treatment is strongly advised.
It is a common ailment that arises when the stomach or intestines are either partially or fully obstructed. The obstruction may cause a restriction in the passage of nutrients or secretions inside the stomach and intestine area. A common complaint is that the disease is extremely uncomfortable, and foreign objects in the intestines can restrict blood flow, eventually resulting in tissue necrosis.
Symptoms in Cats with Intestinal Blockage
Generally speaking, cats who are suffering from an intestinal obstruction will be poorly and will exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- A reluctance to consume food
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Discomfort in the abdomen
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Loss of weight
- A fever or a body temperature that is higher than normal
- Imbalances in electrolytes
- Crying or whimpering
- Disinclination to lie down or rest
Causes of Intestinal Blockage
Numerous factors can contribute to intestinal blockage, including the following: Foreign bodies that have been consumed, a tumor, gastroenteritis (gastrointestinal tract inflammation), or pyloric stenosis (a condition that causes severe vomiting) can all produce gastric outflow obstruction, which is a situation in which the passage of stomach contents is restricted.
Many threat factors can increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal obstruction, including exposure to and a tendency to swallow foreign substances, as well as intussusception (intestinal parasite-related obstruction) in the gastrointestinal tract.
Diagnosis of Intestinal Blockage
An endoscope is a diagnostic process that can be used to confirm gastric and surrounding intestine obstruction. During an endoscopy, a tiny tube with a tiny camera attached to it is sent through the mouth and to the stomach, allowing for an examination to take place. Additionally, this procedure can be used to get biopsies of masses and even foreign bodies that may be the source of the obstruction.
Further testing may be indicated by your veterinarian, including a urine study (which may forbid other causes of related symptoms, such as liver disease) and abdominal ultrasounds, which may reveal the presence of a foreign body in your cat’s stomach or intestines.
Types of Intestinal Blockage in Cats
Cat intestinal blockages can be caused by three foreign objects: complete, partial, and linear. Complete intestinal blockages are the most common. These obstructions can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract.
Complete and Total Obstruction
Complete obstruction occurs when an object completely obstructs the passage of any material via a cat’s gastrointestinal tract.
Occlusion can occur everywhere in the gut, although it is most prevalent with sphincters (muscles that control the openings of the gastrointestinal tract) or constrictions (narrow parts).
In cats, a full intestinal obstruction can result in the following signs and symptoms:
- Feeling of being drained (moving slowly, sluggish)
- Refraining from eating or drinking
- Observing a thread extending from the anus.
- Changes in behavior such as hiding and hostility
- Abdominal discomfort upon being picked up
For this reason, if you suspect your cat has eaten something and are observing these symptoms, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately.
Cats with partial obstructions of the GI tract have limited movement of materials through their intestines, resulting in all of the symptoms associated with complete block and no symptoms at all in some cases.
GI tract irritation occurs as a result of the foreign object passing through your cat’s digestive tract. When a foreign item becomes trapped in the intestines, it can cause pain and discomfort and diarrhea, and vomiting, depending on the situation.
Alternatively, your cat may not exhibit any signs of illness. If this is the case, you should take your cat to a veterinarian, but you are certain that your cat swallowed anything; they shouldn’t have done so.
The severity of all gastrointestinal tract blockages increases when the obstruction migrates into the GI tissue, causing ulceration (open sores) and the potential of bacteria from the intestines escaping into the main bloodstream.
When this occurs, sepsis can occur, which is a life-threatening response to infection that results in organ and tissue malfunction and organ failure. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition which requires prompt medical intervention.
If you suppose your cat has eaten something and they are having pain, drooling, discomfort, diarrhea, not eating for more than 24 hours, or vomiting, take them to the veterinarian immediately once.
Linear obstructions, caused by long, thin (linear) items, can behave similarly to partial blocks, with no significant changes in your cat’s behavior.
Continued peristalsis (natural movement of the GI tract) will create constriction and tightening inside your cat’s bowels as the intestines attempt to pass the string-like substance through its digestive tract. With sustained tension on the linear foreign body, the bowels will begin to cluster or “accordion up” along the length of the foreign body.
Suffocation or oxygen deprivation can result in the intestines losing their ability to function. The foreign body can begin to behave like a saw and slice through the intestinal walls. When this occurs, the contents of your cat’s intestines can spill into their abdomen, causing discomfort. It is possible that this will not happen for several days or even weeks after intake.
Surgery for Cats with Intestinal Blockage
Suppose your veterinarian determines that a foreign object is in your cat’s stomach only after doing an abdominal ultrasound. In that case, your cat will require surgical removal of the thing to guarantee that it does not pass into the small intestines.
If the object manages to pass through, the intestines have a decreased width, which increases the danger of complete obstruction and sepsis if the condition is not treated immediately after it occurs.
Suppose your veterinarian is confident that the foreign object is only in the stomach. In that case, they may opt to perform an endoscopy to remove it, which is a less invasive surgery involving a flexible tube and a camera to remove the object. The advantage of the process is that it is non-invasive and results in shorter recovery times.
What Happens During a Procedure to Remove an Intestinal Blockage?
Advanced diagnostics such as abdominal X-rays and ultrasounds will be employed to determine the object’s specific placement and the degree of the obstruction. As an example, if a cat exhibits substantial dilation (expansion) of the small intestine or free fluid in the belly, the cat is deemed more unstable, and its prognosis may change as a result.
Once the object has been discovered, it can be removed through surgery. The surgery itself is called “abdominal exploratory,” which implies that the surgeon will examine your cat’s entire abdomen throughout the procedure. Depending on the stomach and minor intestine condition, various techniques can be performed to remove the foreign body.
In circumstances when the tissue appears to be healthy, a gastrostomy (an incision into the stomach) or an enterotomy (an incision into the intestine) are performed to remove the foreign item from the patient’s stomach. When dealing with linear foreign body obstructions, it is sometimes necessary to undergo repeated enterotomies to remove the material thoroughly.
Veterinarians prefer to remove the object from your cat’s stomach rather than its intestines whenever possible. The stomach is easier to reach and recovers more quickly than other gastrointestinal tissues. In addition, in specialty veterinary practices, endoscopy is a viable alternative for removing the object without the need for surgical intervention.
Occasionally, a procedure to remove the foreign object from the small intestine may be required. As a result of the greater bacterial counts and probable tissue damage associated with this surgery, the postoperative risks are higher.
A blockage or perforation of the intestine is severe enough to require surgical removal of a piece of the intestine. This surgery carries a higher risk of postoperative problems than other procedures.
Aftercare for Cat Surgical Blockage Treatment
If your cat’s intestinal obstruction is removed using endoscopy, the surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.
However, if your cat has surgery to clear a small obstruction, he or she will need to stay in a hospital for a night or two after the procedure is completed.
Depending on the circumstances, hospitalization might last anywhere from 5-7 days in the event of a septic abdomen caused by the damage of a foreign body or in the case of some intestines requiring surgical removal.
Hospitalization and Intensive Care
Your veterinarian will lookout for signs of sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening response to infection, as well as bacteria leaks from the intestines. Your cat will typically receive intravenous fluids, pain relievers, antibiotics, and nutritional support during their hospital stay, among other treatments.
In more severe cases, transfusions of blood products, blood pressure stabilizers, and feeding tubes may be required to provide further support.
Care at Home
After you’ve brought your cat home, keep a close eye on him or her.
Keep these symptoms in mind while taking your cat to the veterinarian for immediate emergency care:
- Anything that causes an abrupt change in behavior – such as concealment, aggressiveness, or tiredness (moving slowly, sluggish)
- Going without food or drink, or eating and drinking less than usual
- Diarrhea that is either liquid or bloody (some amount of diarrhea is average after removing an intestinal obstruction)
- Gums that are cherry red or white, which indicate dehydration or blood loss
Medications after Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgical Procedure
Even if you believe your cat is feeling better, you should continue administering all medicines as directed by your veterinarian.
Antibiotics, as well as pain treatment, are necessary. Alternatively, if you have difficulty administering your cat’s meds, speak with your veterinarian about other dosage forms such as injections, compounded formulations, or topical drugs for the ears and gums.
Incision Care After Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgery
It is also critical to check on the incision daily. If you notice any of the indicators listed below, contact your veterinarian immediately to avoid infection:
- Swelling, bleeding, discharge, bruising, redness, and incision opening are all possible outcomes.
- At all times, a bodysuit or E-collar should be worn to protect the cat.
Feeding the Cat After Intestinal Blockage Surgery
Depending on the sort of treatment performed on your cat, your veterinarian may prescribe a rigorous food plan for him or her.
The placement of a feeding tube while your cat is under anesthesia, will guarantee that your cat obtains adequate amounts of nutrients and water during his recovery. You can also use this tube to administer some drugs to your patients.
Consult your veterinarian for information on feeding tube guidelines, as well as how to handle and care for the feeding tube. They will provide you with detailed guidelines on what type of food to feed your pet.
Water is frequently added to the food before being blended to get a gruel-like consistency in the blender. It will obtain your veterinarian a few days to figure out exactly how many calories your cat requires per feeding. The amount will be gradually increased over the first few days.
You will also receive instructions from your veterinarian regarding how frequently the feeding tube wrap needs to be changed, as well as what to do if the tube becomes blocked or dislodges. Feeding tubes are often retained in place until your cat can consume complete meals on his or her own. Once the veterinarian determines that it is safe to do so, the tube is readily removed, typically without the need for an anesthetic.
Cost of Cat Intestinal Blockage Surgery
When you have a gut obstruction, treatment can become exceedingly expensive. Consider insuring your cat as soon as you bring him or her home before any signs of sickness begin to manifest themselves. This will ensure that you receive all of the assistance you require to care for them. It’s crucial to be honest with your veterinarian about your financial situation, the expense of care, and your beliefs about what’s best for your cat’s health.
The cost of treating intestinal blockage ranges from $800 to $7000, depending on the severity of the obstruction. The cost is determined by several criteria, including the extent of the injury, the length of the hospital stay, the types of medications required, and other considerations (like where you live).
Strategies to Lower the Surgery Costs
Purchasing pet health insurance when your cat is young is the most effective approach to prepare for health problems that may arise during their lifetime. Signing up your young cat today will also lower the overall cost of their emergency treatment in the long run, which will save you money (because there are fewer pre-existing conditions, if any).
Before a diagnosis is made, it is significant to have active pet insurance to help reduce unexpected expenses for emergency surgery and a variety of other pet health bills. And it’s possible that a policy isn’t as expensive as you believe. You must, however, have a current pet insurance policy in place before the diagnosis and be outside of any applicable waiting periods for the condition to be covered by the policy.
Pet insurance from a reputable company will help you cover the costs of unforeseen medical needs for your pet cat. Our experts evaluate the best pet insurance companies in our frequently updated pet insurance reviews.
Anastomosis and Gastrointestinal Resection
In cats, surgical resection and anastomosis of the small and large intestines are performed to treat tissue necrosis, perforation, and tumors formed in the small and large intestines. The resection will entail removing a diseased piece of the small or large intestine, depending on the situation. Anastomosis is the process of reattaching the open ends of healthy tissues to their respective centers. When tissue damage or injury is irreparable and cannot be treated with conventional procedures, this operation is usually saved for the last resort.
Gastrointestinal Resection and Anastomosis Procedure in Cats
The strategy taken during this surgery will differ depending on where the sick tissue is located. This technique may be carried out by a surgeon with the help of staples, sutures, or specialist anastomotic devices. Sutures are the most often employed.
- A blood test will be performed before surgery to confirm that the cat will be safe under anesthesia.
- The general anesthetic and analgesics will be administered intravenously by the surgeon. The surgical region will be cleaned, shaved, and draped before the procedure.
- The surgeon will make initial incisions into the skin, subcutaneous tissues, and abdominal cavity.
- Following that, the mesenteric and arcuate arteries are ligated.
- This part of the intestines will be packed off with surgical sponges to protect it from infection. When the surgeon has finished, he or she will “milk” the gastrointestinal tract contents out of the damaged area.
- It is then clamped on either side, and the blood arteries supplying this area are tied off to prevent bleeding from occurring.
- After that, the afflicted part is cut and removed from the body.
- The sutures are then used to join the healthy, open ends.
- Preliminary testing will guarantee that gastrointestinal contents will not leak from the suture site before more sutures are placed.
- An omental patch is a name given to this type of transplant. It is derived from the fat in the abdomen and circulates throughout the body. It is possible to stitch a graft patch over the incision site to protect it and speed up recovery.
- To prevent infection, the surgeon will flush the surgical site with an antibacterial solution.
- The sponges are removed, and the abdomen is flushed before the skin and abdominal closure being completed.
- Following the surgery, the cat will be admitted to the hospital.
Recovery In Cats Undergoing Gastrointestinal Resection and Anastomosis
Following surgery, cats may need to be hospitalized for up to 48 hours or longer to ensure that no leaking occurs. In addition to analgesics, hydration and nutritional therapy will be offered during this period. Following discharge, the cat will be given oral painkillers and antibiotics to take home with her. Within four to twelve hours of being discharged, cats should be urged to consume bland food and drink plenty of water. The owner will be provided with special food advice for the first few days following the surgery by the surgeon. Regular bowel movements will most likely resume within twenty-four hours after the procedure. Cats are usually able to return to their regular diet within three days of surgery. A course of antibiotics should be taken for five to seven days or as directed by the surgeon.
The owner should contact their veterinarian immediately if their pet develops a fever, vomiting, or weight loss, as these are all signs of peritonitis in some cases. The owner should inspect the surgical site daily to ensure no leaking, swelling, or drainage has developed.
The sutures would be removed, and the healing process will be monitored at a follow-up session scheduled for ten to fourteen days after the surgical procedure. If the cat requires additional treatment, additional appointments may need to be planned.
Cost of Gastrointestinal Resection and Anastomosis in Cats
Costs associated with gastrointestinal resection and anastomosis will vary depending on the patient’s living level and the ailment being treated. The average cost of a gastrointestinal resection and anastomosis is $300 to $700, depending on the procedure.