What are Rectal Polyps?
An abnormal growth in the lower intestine in cats is known as a rectal polyp. Characterized by a flap-like growth protruding from the rectal walls, these abnormalities may be directly connected or indirectly connected to the intestinal wall. The majority of abnormal growths in the lower intestine are benign (non-cancerous) in nature, but a cat can have multiple growths throughout the lower intestine. These abnormal growths can be rather painful for the feline, causing the inability to defecate and make the inner intestine bleed upon the passing of a stool. An abnormal growth in the lower intestine in cats will not resolve without veterinary treatment.
Symptoms of Rectal Polyps in Cats
An abnormal growth in the lower intestine in a cat can usually be identified at home as the feline will strain to defecate. Your feline may appear to be constipated, but the defecation will be in the form of diarrhea, indicating that the problem is lower in the intestinal system. The passing of feces will cause the intestinal growth to bleed, presenting streaks of bright red blood in the feces. The presence of bright red blood in the feces is a sure sign that the lower intestine is affected, as bleeding in the upper intestine or stomach would reveal dark, digested blood. The feline may vocalize or yowl upon defecation, and the stool may be covered in thick mucus.
Causes of Rectal Polyps in Cats
The cause for a cat to develop an abnormal growth in the lower intestine is unclear. Experts believe polyps share a similar nature with other intestinal growths such as tumor masses, in which cells rapidly grow in one location. Like tumors, the reason why these cells multiply in one local area is a mystery and is still readily researched today. It is clear that abnormal growths in the lower intestine do tend to affect felines of a mature age, but no sex or breed is specifically linked to the condition.
Diagnosis of Rectal Polyps in Cats
The diagnosis of an abnormal growth in the lower intestine in cats will begin with a review of the feline’s medical record and a consult with the cat owner. It is important to elaborate on the symptoms your feline has been displaying at home, as this information aids the veterinarian in beginning the diagnostic procedure. The vet will give your cat a physical exam, followed by a rectal examination. Polyps that have grown close to the anal opening can be felt and sometimes seen through the opening of the anus. In some cases, the polyp may periodically protrude from the anus, which will make for an easy diagnosis.
The veterinarian will continue the diagnosis with a colonoscopy. Even if a polyp was found upon rectal examination, further exploration of the colon is necessary to locate other growths and abnormalities high in the intestinal system. A colonoscopy usually requires some light anesthetic to allow the flexible, tubed camera into the anal opening without stressing the feline. The veterinarian may choose to take a sample of the growth tissue or fluid from the polyp for pathological studies to ensure cancer is not present.
Treatment of Rectal Polyps in Cats
The treatment for an abnormal growth in the lower intestine in cats is surgical removal of the abnormality if cancer was not found. Therefore, your veterinarian will need to perform pre-surgical blood work and a urinalysis on the feline before treatment can begin. These are simple pre-surgical diagnostic tests that will give important information to you vet about how the feline’s internal organs are functioning and if he or she can begin treatment. During surgery, the polyp(s) will be removed through the anal opening and the area in which the growth occupied with be closed with sutures. If the growth was found higher up in the intestinal system, an endoscope (flexible camera) and surgical tool (electric needle, probe) will be used to remove the abnormality.
Recovery of Rectal Polyps in Cats
After surgery, the veterinarian will send a non-steroidal pain medication and antibiotic drug to be given as directed at home as the feline covers. The feline will also be placed on a stool softener to prevent tearing or ripping out the internal stitches from surgery. Expect a veterinary check-up approximately two weeks after the surgery, as the doctor will want to examine the tissues and ensure they are healing properly. An additional follow-up appointment will likely be scheduled in 3-6 months to evaluate tissue healing.
On rare occasions, surgical removal of a polyp can cause a scar on the opening of the anus, causing inflammation and narrowing of said opening. The abnormality may also grow back and require additional surgical treatment from the veterinarian.