A cat might be constipated if it is straining to go to the bathroom and managing to pass only small pieces of fecal matter covered in mucous or blood. Cats can suffer from constipation, obstipation or megacolon. PetEducation.com defines constipation as ingested food that travels slowly through the intestines creating dry and hard faeces. Lactulose may be prescribed for cats suffering from these conditions.
Lactulose is a sugar solution and is considered a disaccharide. It is created by combining the sugar molecules from fructose and galactose, according to PetPlace.com. Veterinarians can prescribe lactulose even though the FDA has not approved its use in animals as of 2010, because it is considered an extra label drug that falls under the provision of the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994. Lactulose is commonly known under the brand names Enulose or Cephulac.
Lactulose eases constipation because the feline cannot digest its ingredients. The sugar moves into the cat's colon completely intact and natural colonic bacterium begin to feed off it. As the bacterium digests lactulose, they produce three forms of acid: acetic, formic and lactic. They also produce carbon dioxide, which, in turn, boosts the level of liquid in the cat's intestine. As the fecal matter absorbs the fluid, it softens and the feline is able to remove the matter regularly.
At the onset of lactulose treatment, the feline may experience some uncomfortable side effects, including bloating and gas and, in more severe cases, stomach cramping. PetEducation.com assures that these side effects usually cease as the cat's system adjusts to lactulose. As with any medication, the cat's owner should keep a wary eye out for an allergic reaction to lactulose. Should the feline begin to scratch because it is breaking out in hives, suddenly vomit or suffer from diarrhoea, go into shock, seizures or a coma, the cat may be allergic to lactulose and requires immediate medical attention.
Lactulose has the consistency of vegetable oil, and the sugars make the syrup sticky and sweet. Consequently, most cats are not going to want to take this medication. In fact, while administering lactulose, the cat's owner should keep a towel nearby, because the feline will most likely begin to salivate excessively, creating a mess of its facial fur. The feline should begin to experience the relief of two to three bowel movements per day fairly quickly after treatment begins.
Lactulose should be used with extreme caution in diabetic cats because of its sugary ingredients. Naturally, the sugar in lactulose can cause diabetic complications and, if the feline absolutely must take lactulose, adjustments to its insulin dosages may be necessary. If lactulose begins to do its job too effectively, and the feline develops diarrhoea, the owner should consult with a veterinarian to ensure the animal does not become dehydrated or suffer from an electrolyte imbalance.
- Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Education.com: Megacolon and Constipation in Cats
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Constipation and Megacolon
- Doctors Foster and Smith Pharmacy: Patient Information Sheet: Lactulose
- PetPlace.com: Lactulose
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA)