Overview of Feline Pyometra
Pyometra is the medical term used to describe an infected uterus. This infection can be open (draining pus from the vagina) or closed (pus is contained in the uterus by a closed cervix).
Pyometra can be a life threatening infection and may even require emergency surgery. A closed pyometra is more of an emergency than an open pyometra, since there is no drainage of pus in a closed pyometra. If left untreated, cats become very ill and some may not survive. With early treatment, about 90 percent of affected cats recover.
Since pyometra is an infection of the uterus, all unspayed cats are susceptible. Pyometra is uncommon in cats from September to December, when their heat cycles are at rest.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Pyometra in Cats
In order to diagnose pyometra, your veterinarian will begin by asking you many questions to develop a complete history of the course of the disease. These questions may include:
After obtaining a medical history, your veterinarian will examine your cat completely, including checking for a fever, palpating her abdomen, and performing a vaginal exam to check for tumors or other abnormalities.
Blood tests are often submitted to look for abnormal white cell counts, which could indicate the presence of an infection and abnormalities in kidney function, which can develop secondary to a pyometra. Urine tests are also submitted to check the patient’s kidney function and look for a urinary tract infection.
X-rays (radiographs) of the abdomen are taken to look for a fluid filled uterus, which is suggestive of a pyometra and an abdominal ultrasound to look for a fluid filled uterus and also to rule out an early pregnancy.
Treatment of Pyometra in Cats
The ideal treatment for pyometra is an ovariohysterectomy (spay). Before surgery is performed, some patients may require emergency stabilization in the form of intravenous fluids and antibiotics, especially if septic shock or kidney failure have developed.
Medical therapy alone is not recommended. There is a high recurrence rate with hormonal treatment, and there is a two-day delay in its effectiveness, which could risk the patient’s life.
Home Care and Prevention
There isn’t any home care for pyometra. Once treated, monitor your cat’s appetite, demeanor, drinking and urination habits so that you will notice any changes. If surgery was performed, monitor the incision for normal healing.
The only way to prevent pyometra is to have your cat spayed.
In-depth Information on Pyometra in Cats
Pyometra describes a pus filled, infected uterus. It is a life threatening condition that requires emergency stabilization and surgery for treatment. Intact (non-spayed) female cats are at risk for developing pyometra.
Cats only ovulate after mating, so pyometra should only occur after a sterile mating. However, it can occur after mild stimulation, enough to induce progesterone production. Pyometra in cats is uncommon in the months in which cats’ heat cycles are inactive (September-December).
Pyometra can be defined as open (draining pus out of the vagina through an open cervix) or closed (pus is trapped in the uterus due to a closed cervix). Closed pyometras are more dangerous, since the infection is trapped in the cat’s body.
The infection is not only life threatening on its own, but it can also cause kidney failure through bacterial toxins. If treated quickly with surgery and antibiotics, approximately 90 percent of cats affected with pyometra will survive.
In-depth Information on Diagnosis of Pyometra in Cats
Because of the secondary effects on the kidneys, pyometra can also cause increased drinking and urination. So, your veterinarian may ask about any changes in your pet’s drinking or urination habits. You may also be asked if you have noticed any vaginal discharge from your pet. Open pyometra produces a pus-like vaginal discharge. Closed pyometra does not drain pus from the vagina.
The function of the kidneys is evaluated through testing the blood as well as the urine. The urine is also tested for the presence of bacterial infection. The levels of electrolytes in the body are checked to determine the patient’s hydration status and to help guide the type of fluid therapy.
In-depth Information on Treatment of Pyometra in Cats
It takes two days for the hormone injections to take effect, during which the pet could die of infection or kidney failure. There is also a high incidence of recurrence of pyometra with medical management. Furthermore, not all pets respond to this therapy and require life-saving surgery after this therapy has failed.
Home Care for Cats with Pyometra
Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.