What is Prostate Enlargement?
The prostate is a gland and area of tissue that makes up part of your male cat’s reproductive system. In cats, the prostate surrounds the urethra and produces fluid that is secreted as part of reproduction. When this gland becomes enlarged it can cause a number of complications for your cat’s urinary and overall health. An enlarged prostate in your cat can also be very uncomfortable. If you suspect your cat is suffering from an enlarged prostate you should seek veterinary assistance, since this can be an indication of a variety of conditions, some of which may be serious or life-threatening if not treated.
Symptoms of Prostate Enlargement in Cats
Prostate enlargement typically occurs gradually and symptoms will progress from mild to more severe as the condition worsens. The prostate is located internally and will not be immediately visible from the outside. Signs to watch for include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Frequent trips to litter box
- Blood in urine
- Straining to defecate
- Awkward or pained walking
- Painful abdomen
- Excessive grooming
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
Causes of Prostate Enlargement in Cats
An enlarged prostate is typically a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. Some of the most common causes of prostate enlargement include:
- Prostatic cancer
- Enlargement due to hormones
- Benign tumors
- Abscess in the prostate
- Bacterial infection in the prostate
It is also important to note that elderly male cats that have never been neutered are more susceptible to the condition due to the fluctuation of hormone levels as the cat ages. Many cases of prostate enlargement can be eliminated by neutering your male cat, especially if they will not be part of any breeding program.
Diagnosis of Prostate Enlargement in Cats
Diagnosis of prostate enlargement in your cat will begin with a trip to your local veterinarian. During your initial visit, your vet will perform a thorough physical exam and ask for a complete medical history of your cat along with details of their current symptoms. Since your vet can only observe your cat for a short period of time while it is in the office, it will be important to bring a list of behaviors and changes you have observed at home. You should let your vet know if your cat has had difficulty urinating or defecating. You should also let your vet know whether or not your cat has previously been neutered.
Your vet will next check your cat for a fever and will obtain urine and blood samples in order to perform laboratory analysis. Blood will be collected in a quick and painless procedure involving a needle stick through which a small sample will be extracted. Your vet will also collect a urine sample from your cat. Your vet will send these samples to an external lab to test for signs of infection. A urinalysis will help identify signs of blood, pus, or protein in the urine while the blood tests can identify elevated white blood cells.
For a definitive diagnosis, your vet may wish to perform an ultrasound of your cat’s pelvic region. This procedure is painless and involves placing a plastic wand over your cat’s skin which returns images to a screen that your vet can then evaluate. This will allow the vet to view the internal structures of your cat and clearly identify an enlarged prostate and also any masses, tumors, or abscesses. If masses are discovered, your vet may choose to take a biopsy. If easily accessible, this may be done by numbing the tissue surrounding your cat’s prostate area and inserting a small needle. In some cases, your vet may choose to perform surgery to remove the mass in its entirety and biopsy the tissue at that time.
Treatment of Prostate Enlargement in Cats
Treatment of your cat’s prostate enlargement will depend on the underlying cause. In the case of tumors or masses, your vet will typically perform surgery to remove the obstruction. This will require your cat to undergo anesthesia and to be hospitalized for a short period of time for observation after the procedure.
If the cause of prostate enlargement is hormonal, your vet may advise neutering your cat to help lower the hormone level and reduce the swelling of the glands. Additional treatments may support your cat’s urinary tract health while they are recovering. This may include administering intravenous fluids, placing a catheter in your cat’s urethra, and administration of antibacterial or antibiotic drugs to fight off any infection.
Recovery of Prostate Enlargement in Cats
For most cats suffering from prostate enlargement, prognosis for recovery is good. Treatment of the underlying condition will typically see results in reduction in size within days with complete recovery within weeks. If your cat must undergo surgery, it will be important to follow your vet’s instructions regarding medication dosage and appropriate aftercare.