What You Should Know About Megaesophagus In Cats

15 May 2020
 Categories: , Blog

As a loving pet owner, you want your cat to be as healthy and as happy as possible at all times. However, there are some issues that cats can have that you might not be able to control just with the basic care you provide them on a daily basis. One such condition that could affect your beloved cat is known as megaesophagus. Get to know more about this feline condition. Then, if your cat shows signs or symptoms, you can be sure to get them to the animal hospital or veterinarian as soon as possible to get diagnosed and treated. 

What Is Megaesophagus?

When a cat has a megaesophagus, it means that their esophagus is dilated (larger than when it is contracted) and is flaccid, meaning it is not firm or, again, contracted. In other words, the esophagus is enlarged and inactive. This is a condition that causes issues with motility in the esophageal tract. Basically, it makes it difficult for food and drink to travel through the esophagus because the esophagus is not doing its part to push or move substances through the tract. 

This condition can be inherited. However, it can also just happen on its own, which makes tracing lineage a bit fruitless if a cat is diagnosed with the condition. The causes of megaesophagus can include esophageal tumors, parasitic infections, nerve disease, or other varied causes.

What Are the Symptoms?

Vomiting, especially right after eating, is one of the most common signs of megaesophagus. Because the food cannot easily pass through the esophagus, the cat will vomit instead. Cats can also develop complications from vomiting. If they develop a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, they may have aspirated (breathed in) their vomit. This can cause pneumonia. 

Cats with megaesophagus may also suffer from weight loss, changes in appetite (either always hungry or disinterested in food entirely), nasal discharge, bad breath, and drooling. Any combination of these symptoms (including the vomiting) would be good cause to head to the animal hospital to get your cat looked at and diagnosed. And if they have the signs of pneumonia, you should go in to a 24-hour animal hospital immediately. 

What Are the Treatments?

If your cat has an obvious underlying cause of their megaesophagus, such as a parasitic infection, the goal of treatment will be to address that underlying condition. Parasites can be eradicated with medications. Foreign bodies can be removed. Nerve conditions may be medically manageable. Surgery to correct the issue may also be an option.

However, in some cases, megaesophagus may be a lifelong issue. If this is the case, you may have to first determine if your cat is able to take solid food. If not, your veterinarian may need to put in a feeding tube and you will have to learn how to feed your cat using the feeding tube.

If they can take food, you may have to feed them in an upright position and keep them in that position for 10 to 15 minutes after feeding to ensure that the food passes through the esophagus and into the stomach. While this is not ideal, the condition is manageable. 

Now that you know some of the facts about megaesophagus in cats, you can be sure to reach out to a local animal hospital to get your cat diagnosed and treated if they show signs and symptoms of the condition. To learn more, contact a clinic such as Angel Pet Hospital.