What is feline pyometra?

Pyometra in cats is only a problem if you don't spay your cat. It is a hormonal problem that affects a female cat's uterus. It often is accompanied by a bacterial infection, which may be confused for the pyometra itself.


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What are the symptoms?

A common sign is discharge or pus coming from the cat's vagina (see page on discharge in cats). It may be white, yellow, or red in color. The cat may act depressed or seem to lack energy. Your may also stop eating as much and run a fever (see page on fever in cats). The cat may also drink much more water and urinate more frequently.

In some cases the cervix, a part of the cat's body that connects the uterus to the vagina, will close up. This locks the discharge into the uterus, and this causes swelling of the cat's abdomen. In some cases the uterus will burst from this swelling, and the cat will die in most cases within a few days. In other cases, the cat's body will attempt to process the wastes in the uterus through the kidneys, but they are not equipped to handle the extra load. If untreated, they will eventually fail and the cat will die. Pyometra is nearly always fatal without treatment, so it is best to get the cat to the vet if it starts showing symptoms.

What causes it?

Feline pyometra is a hormonal problem that happens sometimes after a heat cycle when the cat was not fertilized. Several months later the cat may become sensitive to certain hormones or overproduce them. This results in the formation of cysts (little pockets of pus) in the cat's uterus. Bacteria will commonly infect the uterus, and the cat's body will flood the area with white blood cells in response. This means more fluids in the uterus, which adds to the problem.

What is the treatment?

The cat's uterus will need to be surgically removed, along with several other parts of the reproductive system. If there is a secondary infection, then antibiotics will likely be used as well. Some IV fluid therapy may be needed in the initial days of treatment.

All unspayed female cats are potentially at risk for pyometra, and it is a good reason to have all cats being used as pets spayed. Only professional breeders should keep their cats unspayed.     

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