Reader Question: My Stumpy Manx Has Been Constipated for 5 Years. Is There Anything that Can Be Done?

We have a 6 1/2 year-old male Manx cat.  Our cat has been dealing with constipation for about 5 years, off and on.  Lately he has been getting anal infections which have been treated with antibiotics.  We have recently starting giving the cat lactulose and cisapride once again because of the constipation.  I was also told he has no nerve feelings on the right side and is about 3 vertebrae short from where his tail stub is. I realize it is difficult to make a prognosis in an email and especially without examining the cat.  Is there anything else that can be done for my cat? We love him with all our hearts.  I really do not want my cat to suffer nor do I want to euthanize him sooner than has to be.

Thank you,
Adele G.

Dear Adele,

We describe Manx cats as being either a “stumpy” or a “rumpy”.  A stumpy has a little stub of a tail, which is what I suspect your cat is.  A rumpy is a cat with no tail at all, just a little tuft of fur where the tail would have been.  Either type is susceptible to bowel or bladder problems, but rumpies are particularly susceptible, due to the very end of the spinal cord being affected.  Because your cat has already made it to the age of 6 ½, I think the long-term prognosis is fairly good.  Constipation is an easier problem to deal with in Manx cats, compared to fecal incontinence.  To treat the constipation, I would make sure to feed canned food only; avoid dry food.  Stool softeners should be prescribed, so that the feces are more easily passed.  Lactulose is a very effective stool softener, but many cats hate the taste of it.  You may want to consider a different stool softener, such as Miralax.  This is a powder that you can buy over the counter at most pharmacies.  A good starting dose is ¼ teaspoon  mixed into every wet food meal.  If the stool is still too firm, increase to ½ tsp.  If the stool is too runny, decrease to 1/8.  Eventually you’ll find the dose that gives the proper consistency stool.  Cisapride is a prokinetic drug, i.e. it causes the colon to contract more effectively, which helps the cat expel the stool efficiently. As for diet, there still really is no consensus, however, many vets feel that a highly digestible diet, such as Hill’s i/d or Iams Instestinal is the preferred diet for cats with colon motility issues.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say that he’s been getting “anal infections”.  I’m puzzled as to exactly what is getting infected.  Infections of the anal glands (located on either side of the anus) are seen occasionally in call cats; Manx aren’t more susceptible than other breeds.  If he is getting occasional anal gland infections, you’ll just have to treat him with antibiotics until the infection resolves.  Cats that get chronic recurrent anal gland abscesses may ultimately benefit from anal gland removal, but your cat is not a candidate for area.  Given that your cat is a Manx and is not very neurologically sound in that area, any further surgery in that area is to be discouraged.  It sounds like you’re treating him appropriately.