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The is question Is there anything beyond preference that dictates whether dry food should be wet down? and comments brought up and interesting issue.

If a cat has a sluggish colon, can she have dry food?

What is a good way to manage my cat's diet with this condition in mind?

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So... my cat has mega-colon (enlarged colon as a result of weak muscles in the anus) and, without proper management of his diet, he runs the risk of severe consequences from an inability to defecate. The way to deal with this non-surgically is to basically keep his stool soft enough to be managed by the weakened muscles. Since many cats only get moisture from diet, rather than from drinking water, we do two things:

  1. Dose him with lactulose (basically a sugar) which draws moisture to the intestines to soften the stool.

  2. Add water to his food sources to ensure that there is plenty of moisture in his diet to ensure the stool stays soft.

As a note, a cat without mega-colon, but who is dehydrated often may benefit from a similar treatment. The food should be managed, of course, to avoid risks of bacterial growth or other spoilage.

Dry food can be used in either case, with water, but wet food is a superior choice since it's intended to have a high moisture content and results in a better consistency. It's also more like what they'd encounter if they weren't domesticated...

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Another issue you might want to consider is that as cats get older their colon response gets weaker.

My old (18.5 years) cat scared the living daylights out of me a couple of years back when one of her scent glands burst - in domestic cats the glands are usually emptied when the cat defecates, so anything that slows the process or causes a day or two of constipation increases the risk of a blockage (Diarrhea can also cause scent gland issues because the cat isn't having to push).

You'll probably need to adjust the cat's diet as she ages to keep her stool texture and frequency consistent, both for her comfort and to prevent scent gland problems.

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In general I'd say one should feed cats wet food instead of dry.

Aside from that, for a cat with an enlarged colon, and/or constipation issues I'd say should never have dry food.

I have a cat who had mega-colon and possibly has some motility issues (maybe the nerves there don't respond right... who knows). I've tried everything with her. I tried surgery (2/3rds of the colon was removed), and numerous dietary changes (extra fiber in the form of pumpkin).

What seems to help are a few things: wet cat food, occasional cisapride to combat constipation (I use it when she is having trouble). Problems are much easier to manage with that combination.

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