"My cat is constipated," the young lady teacher said to me on Friday Jun 14, 2013. "He went into the litter tray and tried to poop but could not do it. He passed 2 hard lumps of stools and then nothing. He strains and strains."
I have treated this 10-year-old male cat for the past years, starting from his continual licking of his belly some 6 years ago. His belly became bald. It took some time for me to discover that the owner had been putting newspapers to cover the whole litter box and so he would soil himself after doing his business as he climbed out of the box. He would then have to clean his belly thoroughly like all healthy cats. So the belly and inguinal area become hairless. Changing the litter box management resulted in him getting back his belly hair.
Now he seemed to have constipation. I palpated a short roll of stools in his colon and asked Dr Daniel to manage the case. Enemas were given. Oral laxatives were given but there were no stools out the next day. Dr Daniel did advise X-ray if there were no stools. "How many ml of the oral laxative oil you gave?" I asked as the enema did not work. "2 ml," he said. "Well, it may not be sufficient. Give 10 ml."
Another enema was given. Still there were no evidence of poo in the sand litter box on this fine Saturday. The father phoned first and then the daughter as they were worried. Both came to the Surgery as I said they could bring the cat home to observe the effects of the laxative. In their presence, I check the cat's backside. A hard stool lump was stuck in the backside hairs. I removed it with a piece of tissue.
"What caused this constipation?" I asked the father and daughter. "Did the cat drink sufficient water?"
"He does not drink as he eats canned food," the father said. "Nothing has been changed in his habits and management."
"Are you sure? Did he eat plants?"
"No," the daughter said.
"He has a habit of licking plastic bags nowadays."
"There could be toxins on the plastic bags," I advised the owners to keep all bags which would not be practical.
I put the cat on the table for a final examination by palpating his abdomen. There was a large lump in mid-abdomen, about the size of a quail egg but roughly rectangular in size. A hair ball? This was a thick-coated grey cat. For some reason, the cat reacted to my palpation and sunk his teeth into my left wrist. A 2-cm red line and another 3 mm line oozed some blood as the cat's fangs must have cut the skin. I withdrew my hand and washed the wrist. The owners were as amazed as I was.
"Luckily it is not a claw wound," I said. "Claw wounds from cats get septic easily. He must have been fed up with my assistants giving him laxatives and enemas."
Quiet cats do bite but rarely. Cats usually hiss and claw. The cat went home and on Sunday, there was no call from the owner. I presume all are OK. Wiping the cat's backside with wet cotton was one of the procedures the owners did. They said they do not use the perfumed baby wipes and they did it gently. This wiping could cause painful anal area but it is hard to say what causes this "constipation" problem in an old cat that bit the vet. .