What is Lack of Intestinal Motility?
Lack of intestinal motility in your cat is a condition in which food does not move at an appropriate pace through cat’s digestive tract. While there are many gastrointestinal, or GI, diseases in cats, lack of intestinal motility typically refers to food moving too slowly. The rate of slowdown can range from impairment to complete blockage, depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Lack of intestinal motility in your cat tends to be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Symptoms of Lack of Intestinal Motility in Cats
Since there is typically an overall disease or larger cause that is associated with lack of intestinal motility in your cat, it will be important to attempt to isolate the gastrointestinal issues your cat is having from other symptoms that may provide clues to the underlying sickness. The following symptoms may be an indication that your cat is suffering from a lack of intestinal motility.
- Lack of appetite or anorexia
- Difficulty defecating or urinating
- Intermittent bouts of diarrhea
- Bloated or distended stomach
- Signs of pain or discomfort, especially in the stomach area
Causes of Lack of Intestinal Motility in Cats
There are many potential causes of lack of intestinal motility and they range from mild to serious. A qualified veterinarian should be consulted in order to determine what underlying condition is causing the symptoms in your cat. Some of the conditions that may cause lack of intestinal motility are:
- Injury to abdominal area
- Internal blockage from foreign object
- Internal blockage due to tumor or mass
- Lack of hydration or electrolyte imbalance
- Gastrointestinal disease, including infection or inflammation
- Post-surgery complications
- Neurological conditions
- Use of certain drugs
Diagnosis of Lack of Intestinal Motility in Cats
When diagnosing lack of intestinal motility in your cat, your veterinarian will first assess the condition to determine its severity. In the most severe cases, the symptoms must be treated so that your cat can be stabilized, before the underlying cause is determined. During this time your vet will conduct a thorough physical exam of your cat. This may also assist in uncovering the underlying cause of the lack of intestinal motility.
After your cat has been stabilized, your vet will request additional laboratory tests such as a full blood panel and urinalysis. This will help your vet determine the presence of any infection or indications of disease. Your vet will also request imaging of the abdominal area in order to rule out any blockages, tumors or other physical abnormalities. Imaging may be done by x-ray, MRI, ultrasound and, in some cases, barium contrast.
It will also be important for you to provide a thorough behavior and medical history of your cat. The onset of any symptoms in relation to potential injury is useful. You should also let your vet know if you cat has recently had any dietary changes or is currently taking any medications or supplements.
Treatment of Lack of Intestinal Motility in Cats
Treatment of lack of intestinal motility in your cat will depend on the underlying cause. One of the most common causes of this condition comes from lack of hydration or an electrolyte imbalance as a result of improper hydration. To treat this condition, your vet may initially order intravenous or subcutaneous hydration of your cat. This will involve your veterinarian placing a needle under your cat’s skin and attaching a bag of saline solution which will slowly distribute throughout your cat’s body and rehydrate. In these cases, symptoms typically begin to improve immediately.
For blockages, surgical removal will often need to be performed if the foreign or other object is not moving and completely blocking any other intestinal movement. Surgery may also be needed in order to repair damage caused by trauma. In other cases, certain medications may be able to restore intestinal motility initially which may encourage long-term restoration of full and normal function.
Recovery of Lack of Intestinal Motility in Cats
The prognosis for recovery from lack of intestinal motility in your cat will depend on the cause or underlying condition. In cases where hydration is the issue, you should see immediate improvement in your cat’s symptoms. It will be important to continue to monitor your cat and your vet may recommend you alter your cat’s diet in order to provide more moisture and to also make sure water is always available.
In the case of surgery, your cat also has an excellent chance of full recovery. As with any surgery, you will need to follow your veterinarian’s post-surgical instructions. You should keep your cat separated from other household animals in a calm place to rest and recover. You will also need to make sure you follow the full course of any prescribed antibiotics to help prevent infection after major surgery.
While recovery will be a case-by-case assessment, with most common causes your cat should make a full recovery and live a long and healthy life.