Rectal Prolapse in Cats: A Comprehensive Guide

Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectal tissue of your cat protrudes through the anus, causing discomfort and potential complications. This article will provide you with all the essential information about rectal prolapse in cats, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, recovery, and management.

What Is Rectal Prolapse in Cats?

Rectal prolapse occurs when the rectal tissue of your cat pushes through the anus. This tissue is typically dark pink or dark red. The rectum is the part of the intestinal tract that connects the large intestine to the anus. There are two main types of rectal prolapse:

  • Incomplete: In this condition, the rectal tissue protrudes when your cat strains to pee or poop, but it goes back to its normal position afterward. Although it may initially seem less severe, it requires immediate veterinary attention as it can worsen over time.
  • Complete: In a complete rectal prolapse, all layers of the rectum protrude through the anal opening, forming a tube-like structure. This type of prolapse demands immediate veterinary attention.

Symptoms of Rectal Prolapse in Cats

Cats with rectal prolapse often exhibit signs of discomfort and may avoid movement. They may lick their rectum frequently and continue to strain while attempting to poop, pee, or give birth. The color of the exposed rectum is an essential indicator of the severity. Initially, it appears dark pink, but as swelling and exposure progress, it quickly turns dark red. If left untreated, the rectum may become very dark red or black, indicating tissue death.

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Causes of Rectal Prolapse in Cats

Rectal prolapse can be caused by various medical conditions that lead to excessive straining during elimination. Straining weakens the tissue supporting the rectum. Some common causes include:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Obstruction of the colon or rectum due to a foreign object
  • Rectal or vaginal mass
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Giving birth

In kittens, rectal prolapse is commonly caused by diarrhea resulting from intestinal parasites. Certain cat breeds, such as the Manx, or cats that have undergone tail amputations, may be more susceptible to rectal prolapse if the nerves to their rectum and anus have been affected.

Diagnosis of Rectal Prolapse in Cats

Rectal prolapse in cats can be diagnosed through a physical examination by a veterinarian. In most cases, the prolapse is complete by the time it is noticed, meaning the rectal tissue is continuously exposed. It is important to seek veterinary attention if any type of tissue is protruding from the anal opening. Your vet will check for underlying causes and may perform additional tests, such as a stool sample analysis, bloodwork, and x-rays of the abdomen.

Treatment for Rectal and Anal Prolapse in Cats

The treatment for rectal prolapse in cats depends on the severity of the condition and may involve various approaches. Here are the possible treatment options:

Simple Rectal Prolapse

The treatment of a simple rectal prolapse usually requires anesthesia for your cat’s comfort. The prolapsed rectal tissue is carefully cleaned, and swelling may be reduced using medications or hypertonic saline. If the rectum remains healthy, it can be manually reduced after thorough cleansing. To prevent re-prolapse, a purse-string suture is used to make the anal opening smaller.

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Rectal Prolapse Surgery

If the rectal tissue has become necrotic (black and dying), surgical intervention is necessary to remove the affected portion and reattach healthy tissue. However, this may result in temporary or long-term issues with bowel control.


In cases where repeat rectal prolapses occur or surgical removal of necrotic tissue is required, a procedure called colopexy may be performed. This procedure involves attaching the rectum to the abdominal wall using internal sutures, preventing future prolapse events.

Treating the Underlying Cause

In addition to addressing the prolapse itself, it is crucial to treat the underlying cause to prevent recurrence. The specific treatment will depend on the cause of the prolapse. For instance, deworming is necessary for intestinal parasites, while urinary stones or obstructions require their own treatment.

Recovery and Management of Rectal Prolapse in Cats

During the healing period, it is essential to monitor your cat closely. If diarrhea occurs, contact your vet immediately, as it increases the risk of another prolapse. After surgery, your cat may be prescribed pain medication, stool softeners, and possibly antibiotics. Rest and post-surgical care will depend on the severity of the repair.

Recovery After a Simple Rectal Prolapse

For cats with a simple rectal prolapse, the purse-string suture remains in place for 5-7 days. During this time, your cat will need to wear an E-collar to prevent licking and follow a soft food diet. After suture removal, your cat can resume regular food consumption.

Recovery After Prolapse Surgery

Recovery after surgery involving removal of part of the rectum takes longer. Your cat will need an E-collar, soft food, and stool softeners for approximately 10-14 days or even longer.

Rectal Prolapse in Cats FAQs

Q: Can rectal prolapse recur?
A: Yes, a recurrence of rectal prolapse is possible. It will appear similar to the initial occurrence, with rectal tissue protruding from the anus. Infection and fecal incontinence are potential complications, especially if surgical removal of the rectum was necessary.

Remember, if you suspect your cat has rectal prolapse, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment significantly improve the chances of a successful recovery. For more information on rectal prolapse in cats, visit Katten TrimSalon.