What are Narrowing of the Anus?
Rectal stricture is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. Cats displaying possible symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
A narrowing of the anus, also known as rectal stricture, is commonly caused by the presence of scar tissue resulting from injury, inflammation, or cancerous growth. The condition causes discomfort in affected cats and often results in digestive system problems due to the inability to properly eliminate fecal waste.
Symptoms of Narrowing of the Anus in Cats
Symptoms of rectal stricture will vary depending on the underlying causes and the severity of the condition. Affected cats may display one or more of the following:
- Straining to pass feces
- Crying out when defecating
- Bloody or mucus-covered stools
- Enlargement of the large intestine
Causes of Narrowing of the Anus in Cats
This condition has not been found to be more prevalent in any specific breed or gender. Cats that have had previous anal or rectal issues may be more susceptible to rectal stricture. Possible preceding conditions may include:
- Anal or rectal abscess
- Anal fistulas
- Presence of foreign body in the anal passage
- Fungal infection
- Trauma, cuts, or wounds in the anal area
- Aggressive cancerous growths
- Complications following surgery
Diagnosis of Narrowing of the Anus in Cats
The treating veterinarian will begin by reviewing the cat’s full medical history and discussing the onset of symptoms and any conditions that may have precipitated the problem. It is likely that a standard set of laboratory tests will be ordered in order to evaluate the overall health of the cat. These tests will usually include a complete blood count (CBC), electrolyte panel, and urinalysis. If an infection is present, the blood test may show an unusually high white blood cell count. Otherwise, tests are expected to return normal results.
The vet will complete a thorough physical exam and manually examine the rectum. Abdominal ultrasounds and/or X-rays with barium contrast may be used to aid in visual diagnosis. The results may show changes in the structure of internal tissues, including a possible thickening of the stomach walls, which may indicate the presence of rectal stricture or cancer.
In many cases, a colonoscopy will be completed to determine the extent and location of the stricture. During the procedure, tissue samples will likely be collected and sent to the lab for biopsy and other tests.
Treatment of Narrowing of the Anus in Cats
Immediate treatment efforts are primarily focused on pain relief and removal of residual waste that is held in the intestines. In order for the cat to have a chance at long-term recovery, the underlying condition must be treated and the stricture may need to be widened.
Affected cats will be administered fluids to ensure proper hydration and will likely receive stool softeners or other drugs. Veterinarian-aided enemas may be recommended to assist in the passing of retained fecal matter. In some cases, the cat may need to go under anesthesia prior to treatment. This treatment is not always effective and may result in excessive diarrhea and/or dehydration. It should only be done under a veterinarian’s supervision.
Antibiotics or antifungals will be prescribed to address the presence of infection. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation. It is important to ensure that infections have been fully cleared prior to using corticosteroids as they may cause complications when infection is present. During the course of treatment, cats should be monitored closely for the possibility adverse side effects.
Depending on the extent of the stricture, the vet may recommend a temporary stent, balloon dilation, or a partial or full removal of the canal. When surgery is performed, drugs are likely to be prescribed to help reduce the chances of post-surgical infection. While most cats with small strictures respond positively to balloon dilation, possible side effects may include hemorrhaging, tearing of the intestinal walls, or deep rectal tears. Other surgical side effects may include fecal incontinence and development of additional strictures.
Treatment of Cancerous Tumors
In cases involving cancerous tumors, a consultation with a veterinary oncologist may be recommended. Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be needed to treat the condition. If treatment is effective, there is still a possibility that the cancer may metastasize to other areas of the body.
Recovery of Narrowing of the Anus in Cats
The prognosis for cats with rectal structure is guarded due to the likelihood of complications. Following treatment, affected cats will need to be watched carefully for side effects and the possible recurrence of symptoms. Stressful situations should be avoided and the cat should be provided with a quiet place to rest and recover away from children and other animals. Veterinary recommendations regarding follow-up visits should be followed in order to ensure proper recovery.