Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Youtube Play

What is Mammary Gland Enlargement?

While female cats are far more susceptible to these problems, nipple and mammary gland swelling is sometimes seen in male cats as well. A female who is intact is more at risk than a female that is spayed. If unusual mammary gland swelling is noticed while a cat is nursing kittens, veterinary attention may be needed for the kittens along with the mother as the infection can easily spread between the two. 

Nipple and mammary swelling are the outside manifestations of mammary gland enlargement. Most cats have eight nipples, and in the case of enlargement or inflammation, one or more nipples may be affected. Normal events in a female cat’s life can lead to the swelling of mammary tissue, such as pregnancy and lactation. However, many infections and other conditions which can be life-threatening also create mammary gland enlargement. 

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image

Mammary Gland Enlargement Average Cost

From 433 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,400

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Mammary Gland Enlargement in Cats

Generally, when the condition is abnormal and needs treatment, multiple signs may arise. 

  • Swelling of the nipples or mammary tissue
  • Painful nipples
  • Redness
  • Discharge from nipples
  • Ulceration of the nipples and breast
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Edema of the skin on hind legs
  • Refusal to nurse (if female with kittens)
  • Sick kittens (if nursing)
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Mammary Gland Enlargement in Cats

Besides the normal cause of pregnancy, enlarged mammary glands can be the sign of a bigger internal issue in the cat. A veterinarian is best at determining the exact cause of the swelling, which will lead to a faster diagnosis and treatment for the cat. Causes include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Mastitis (mammary gland infection while lactating)
  • Galactostasis (milk collection in mammary gland while weaning)
  • Feline Mammary Hypertrophy (benign masses)
  • Mammary cancer
  • Mammary Hyperplasia (from high levels of progesterone)
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Mammary Gland Enlargement in Cats

A veterinarian will need the cat’s full medical history upon arrival at the clinic. A physical exam will be performed in which the nipples and mammary tissue will be closely examined for signss that match with mammary gland conditions. Some issues may not be serious and might resolve on their own, while other conditions can be life-threatening.

A range of diagnostic testing might be done, generally starting with blood work. This may include a complete blood count and a biochemical profile. A biopsy of the enlarged tissue may be taken for further microscopic evaluation (a histopathological examination). Chest and abdominal X-rays may be needed to check for tumor location and pinpoint any metastasizing (spreading). Urinalysis can be used to confirm and identify any bacteria present in the cat. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Mammary Gland Enlargement in Cats

There are a variety of treatments available, depending on the condition present. If the cat is dealing with an infection (as in the cases of mastitis), this can be a medical emergency. Immediate attention is needed to stabilize the cat enough to receive treatment.

Mastitis 

Treatment for mastitis includes an antibiotic prescription to clear up any infection and painkillers to help the cat endure the pain associated with this condition. Your veterinarian may also recommend that you apply a warm compress periodically to help with drainage. 

Mammary Cancer 

This type of cancer is very aggressive and often spreads. It usually occurs in multiple nipples at once. The surgical removal of affected glands (mastectomy) is recommended, especially if the cancer is in its early stages. If the cat is not a good surgical candidate, chemotherapy may be the only treatment option. 

Feline Mammary Hypertrophy 

Advised treatment for this condition is a full spay (ovariohysterectomy). While these surgeries are more routine, if the cat is suffering from poor overall health, the procedure can be very taxing. 

Mammary Hyperplasia

To alleviate this issue, removal of the source of progesterone is needed. This generally leads to an ovariohysterectomy. If ulceration of the glands has occurred, glands may be removed if the cat is stable enough. Painkillers will be prescribed to help the cat get through the days after the surgery. 

Pregnancy or Galactostasis 

Both of these causes of mammary gland enlargement will resolve on their own with time. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Mammary Gland Enlargement in Cats

If the underlying condition is mammary cancer, overall prognosis is guarded. This cancer has a high tendency to spread throughout the body, most commonly to the lymph nodes, liver, kidneys, lungs and adrenal glands. If the cancer is caught early and the tumor found is less than 2cm in diameter, surgical removal offers a much higher survival rate than in more advanced cases.

If the cat has received a mastectomy or an ovariohysterectomy, signs of infection need to be watched for. Abide by all recommended at-home care from your vet. A post-surgical clinic visit is often required to allow the veterinarian to check that the healing process is happening successfully. With many of these conditions, spontaneous remissions can occur. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Mammary Gland Enlargement Average Cost

From 433 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,400

Average Cost

$600

arrow-up-icon

Top

Mammary Gland Enlargement Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

shorthair

dog-age-icon

2 years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lumps On Her Chest

My cat was spayed a couple of months ago. I just now noticed she has several lumps on her chest. The vet told me she was pregnant when she was spayed. I don't know if that has anything to do with them or? I'm concerned maybe the kittens have caused it. They've been weaned for a few months now but they still like to go to the momma cats and suckle them. They run about 2 - 2 1/2 inches across her stomach. She is very particular and absolutely hates having her stomach touched. They seem warm to the touch. The pictures I was able to get aren't fullly showing the swelling.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. If the kittens are still trying to nurse off of her, they may be causing some irritation to her mammary glands. If this problem is not improving, it would be a good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can examine her and make sure that she does not need antibiotics or other medications to help.

Oct. 10, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

Two Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Hello. My cat is breastfeeding but is weaning the kittens at the moment. There is a huge mass around one the nipples. I am not sure what it is.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say without being able to look at your cat, but it may be that she has an infection in that mammary gland. It would be a good idea to keep a close eye on it, and if it is not getting smaller over the next day or two, the best idea would be to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her and see what might be going. They will be able to let you know what treatment she needs once they can look at it. I hope that all goes well for her and her kittens.

Sept. 26, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

Mammary Gland Enlargement Average Cost

From 433 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,400

Average Cost

$600

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

advertisement image
ask a vet placeholder
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install