Preputial Discharge (Licking Penis) in Cats
Dr. Bari Spielman
Preputial discharge is any substance flowing from the prepuce, which is the fold of skin that covers the penis. Often, licking at the prepuce/penis accompanies the discharge, so we may use the terms interchangeably. Disorders affecting the prepuce, including neoplasia (cancer), trauma, foreign body or inflammation of the penis/prepuce (balanoposthitis).
Preputial discharge may consist of blood, urine or pus. The normal cat should have no discharge, although a small amount of whitish-yellow "smegma" can accumulate around the preputial opening, and is not considered clinically significant.
There are many potential causes. These include:
Disorders of the urethra, including neoplasia, trauma or stones (calculi).
Disorders of the urinary bladder including infection, calculi, inflammation or neoplasia.
Disorders of the prostate, including infection or inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), neoplasia, enlargement (hyperplasia), cyst or abscess.
Bleeding disorders (coagulopathies) including decreased platelet count (thrombocytopenia) or ingestion of rat poison
Urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine) secondary to an ectopic (abnormally placed) ureter or improperly functioning sphincter (tissue that acts like a door, controlling the release of urine).
The presence of preputial discharge most often suggests an underlying problem, ranging from a mild, relatively benign disorder, to a severe, even life threatening disease (such as a coagulopathy)
What to Watch For
Swelling or inflammation associated with the prepuce/penis
Lack of appetite
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination including a thorough exam of the penis and prepuce. The following tests may also be recommended:
Baseline tests to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile and urinalysis. Although results may be within normal limits, they may reveal overt infection and inflammation.
A bacterial urine culture to rule out a urinary tract infection
A bacterial culture and cytology of the preputial discharge
A coagulation (clotting) profile to document a coagulopathy in cases of hemorrhagic discharge.
Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) to evaluate the urogenital tract, including the prostate
Abdominal ultrasound to assess the prostate and urinary structures
Although specific therapy may be indicated once a definitive diagnosis is established, there are several things that can be done to treat the symptoms while awaiting test results.
Remove or treat any obvious inciting or underlying cause, such as foreign body, tumor or infection
Flush the prepuce daily with antiseptic solution.
Administer all prescribed medication as directed by your veterinarian.
Observe your pet closely. If the clinical signs are not improving or are getting worse, contact your veterinarian at once.