What is rectal prolapse? Rectal prolapse is a condition in which rectal tissue protrudes through a cat’s anal opening and looks like a long piece of sausage connected to the anus. It is a rare condition that happens to kittens under age 6 months, but adult cats can also develop it.
How does my cat get rectal prolapse? It is unclear how cats develop rectal prolapse, but veterinary specialists theorize that gastrointestinal parasites contribute to causing this condition.
How do I know if my cat has rectal prolapse? Initially, you may notice that your kitten is fussing at his rear end and seems to be licking the genital and anal area excessively. Or, you may notice that your kitten strains while using the litter box or is unable to pass stool from the anus. Felines with rectal prolapse will have tissue pushing out from the anus. Your veterinarian will make the precise diagnosis during a physical examination. It is important to distinguish a rectal prolapse from a prolapse of the small intestine, which is a much more critical condition. To identify which type, a veterinarian will need to insert a blunt probe around the edge of the tissue. If it does not pass very far, it is most likely a rectal prolapse. If it does insert easily, then it is probably a prolapse of the small intestine. In addition, abdominal X-rays and a fecal exam will be done to check for any abnormalities or signs of gastrointestinal parasites.
What can I do about rectal prolapse? You need to take steps to prevent your cat from licking or biting at the protruding tissue. Apply a clean, moist washcloth on the anal area and take your cat to your veterinarian for treatment. The sooner you get your cat in for treatment, the better and faster the recovery. Treatment may be as simple as your veterinarian pushing the protruding healthy tissue back into place and suturing the area – leaving enough room for stool to pass out and preventing another prolapse. However, if the tissue looks damaged or dead, surgery will be necessary and care must be taken to prevent fecal incontinence or a serious infection from developing. Failure to have this condition treated can cause death in your cat.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting rectal prolapse? The underlying cause remains a mystery. However, it is highly recommended that you schedule regular fecal exams for your cat and that you make sure he is free of parasites.
Are there certain breeds that get rectal prolapse more often? Yes. The tailless Manx is slightly more prone to rectal prolapse, but this condition can affect any cat of any breed or gender.