What is Infertility of Female?
Infertility is a term used to describe the inability to procreate or produce offspring. In cats, infertility can affect males and females. For female cats, fertility is based on the normal operation of the reproductive system, including the production of eggs, release of eggs (ovulation), and proper uterine processes once the egg has been fertilized. Fertilization requires insemination by a male of the species. If any portion of the reproductive system in either the male or the female is not performing properly, infertility can occur. In cats, ovulation occurs during mating, so proper breeding technique is also required for successful conception. In many cases, female infertility is a treatable medical condition.
Symptoms of Infertility of Female in Cats
The primary symptom of infertility in cats is a lack of offspring after multiple mating attempts. It is important to note that failure to produce offspring after a single mating attempt is fairly common, but continued inability to conceive could indicate an issue.
- Failure to conceive
- Failure to mate or trouble mating
- Lack of desire to mate
- Abnormal mating cycles
- Repeated mating without pregnancy
- Early or late term pregnancy loss
- False pregnancy
- Fetal reabsorption
Causes of Infertility of Female in Cats
Various conditions and issues can result in female infertility. In many cases, infertility is related to a combination of factors rather than one specific cause. Occasionally, no specific cause can be determined. Some causes of infertility in female cats include:
- Hormonal changes or deficiencies
- Abnormal ovulation
- Lack of sufficient stimulus during mating to result in ovulation
- Inability to mate
- Lack of desire to mate – potentially related to hormonal issues or age
- Ovarian cysts
- Chronic endometriosis
- Infections of the reproductive system
- Feline leukemia or other viral infections
- Certain parasites or protozoa
- Hereditary issues including chromosome abnormalities
- Injury or trauma affecting reproductive organs
- Certain cancers
- Poor nutrition
- Developmental or growth issues
- Infertility of the male mate
Diagnosis of Infertility of Female in Cats
Veterinary staff may use several methods to diagnose infertility. A complete physical examination and full medical history will be required to identify any obvious causes of infertility or issues with conception. Be prepared to discuss the symptoms you have observed and the steps that have been taken to attempt to conceive. Be sure to advise your veterinarian if mating has been attempted with more than one male, as male infertility could be a concern. If only one mate has been involved, your veterinarian may conduct diagnostic tests on the male, including semen evaluation and ultrasonography. Also, be prepared to discuss your cat’s conception history. Different diagnostic methods may be used for a cat that was able to conceive in the past.
One of the primary diagnostic methods used to diagnose infertility in the female cat is testing for hormone levels. This is a common cause of fertility issues, and abnormal hormone levels can clearly identify the problem. X-ray or other imaging techniques may also be used to identify abnormalities in the female reproductive organs. A biopsy of uterine tissue may be required. This will require sedation, and must be conducted while under a veterinarian’s care. The biopsy may reveal certain underlying causes that result in conception difficulties. Additional testing for illnesses or infections may also be conducted, including blood or urine analysis.
Treatment of Infertility of Female in Cats
Treatment methods will vary depending on the underlying cause of infertility. If the male mate is determined to be the cause, they will undergo treatment or you may wish to seek another breeding partner. Some potential treatments for female infertility include:
Treatments designed to improve or reduce the levels of various hormones may be necessary if an imbalance is determined to be the cause. Commonly administered hormones may be designed to improve thyroid function or induce ovulation. This treatment is generally considered low risk. Depending on the hormone being provided, the treatment may need to continue for some time.
In the case of cysts, abnormalities, or obstructions within the reproductive system, surgery may be required to remedy the situation. As with any surgery, a moderate risk is presented. If your pet has poor reactions to anesthesia this treatment may not be viable.
Antibiotics, Antivirals, or Other Medications
If the underlying cause of the cat’s infertility is due to an illness or infection, medication to treat the cause will be administered. These types of medications are generally considered low risk, however, you should speak with the veterinarian about the risk of side effects. Generally, this type of treatment will not be prescribed until the exact cause is known.
If breeding has been unsuccessful with no underlying cause being determined, breeding management may be necessary. Education on proper breeding techniques will be required to improve the chances of future breeding success. This method carries no risk.
Recovery of Infertility of Female in Cats
Recovery from infertility is possible, but only in certain situations. Cats diagnosed with a treatable condition are often able to breed after treatment has concluded. In the case of improper breeding techniques or illnesses, the prognosis is often good. Ensuring proper breeding management and nutrition will lead to successful conception. In the event that surgery was required to resolve an issue, additional time and support may be necessary. Do not attempt to breed the female until healing has been completed. If a genetic or reproductive issue is to blame, it is possible that the female cat will not ever be able to produce kittens. Even if your cat is infertile, she can still lead a full life.