What are Prostatic Cysts?
Un-neutered middle-aged cats are much more prone to developing prostatic cysts, as well as other diseases of the prostate, but cysts in the prostate are extremely rare in cats. The average age of the cat is about nine years of age. The most effective form of treatment is surgery and castration of the cat. Medications are not very effective in shrinking prostatic cysts.
Prostatic cysts in male cats are a condition that can cause the cat to show signs of illness. Some cats may not display symptoms, which makes it difficult for the owner and the vet to determine if something is wrong. These cysts are likely to be non-cancerous, but the cat should still be examined to be sure.
Symptoms of Prostatic Cysts in Cats
Once a prostatic cyst has become large enough to press against other organs in the cat’s body, it may begin to show signs of illness. Symptoms include:
- Urinating frequently, but voiding only small amounts
- Straining or pushing to urinate
- Blood dripping from cat’s penis
- Blood-streaked urine
- Distended bladder
- Cat strains to defecate
- Feces is small and shaped like thin tape
- Lack of appetite
- Holding tail in a strange position, away from its rear
- Painful prostate
- Weight loss
- Lack of sex drive and lowered fertility
- Lame and stiff hind legs
Some cats may have only a few of the above symptoms or may be completely asymptomatic, even though their prostatic cysts may be of a significant size.
Causes of Prostatic Cysts in Cats
Cats form prostatic cysts as the result of other illness within the prostate gland:
- Prostatitis (bacterial infection)
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate gland)
Lack of neutering may be an indirect cause of prostatic cysts, as unaltered male cats are more likely to develop some form of prostate disease.
Diagnosis of Prostatic Cysts in Cats
Cats with prostatic cysts need to be examined completely so the vet can rule out other illnesses. The cat undergoes a full physical, which includes having blood drawn. The vet also orders a urinalysis to rule out urinary tract infections or bladder infections. The lab performs a biochemistry profile, verifying the functioning of the cat’s internal organs.
The cat also undergoes an abdominal ultrasound and X-rays to check for masses that could indicate that the cat has cancer.
The vet will draw a small sample of prostatic fluid for analysis. They will also aspirate a small portion of the prostate so the cells can be examined for signs of disease. Two of these tests are histology, which is a detailed analysis of the prostate tissue, and cytology, an analysis of the individual cells of the prostate.
Treatment of Prostatic Cysts in Cats
Once the vet has diagnosed prostatic cysts in the cat, treatment consists of surgically draining the cyst(s) and omentalization, which consists of using the omentum within the cat’s abdomen to help heal the prostate gland. The omentum helps to remove infection and fluids away from abdominal organs (this fatty structure is called the abdominal watchdog). When the omentum is inserted during surgery into the prostate, this helps the cat to avoid repeat recurrences of abscesses and cysts. The prostate opened with a small incision, which allows the surgeon to insert the omentum into the cyst.
Treatment with drugs may not be very effective. The vet will recommend neutering or castrating the cat once the cyst has been surgically removed. Castration of the cat is the most effective way to ensure that prostatic cysts will not recur. Surgical removal is reserved for large cysts that have begun to intrude on other organs in the cat’s lower abdomen. Prostatic cysts can place the cat’s life in danger, if they are not taken care of. If an intraabdominal cyst ruptures, the cat may develop peritonitis and symptoms of shock. Once the vet diagnoses the cat with a cyst, it should be treated and removed.
Recovery of Prostatic Cysts in Cats
Once the cat’s prostatic cyst has been removed, the cat should be kept calm and quiet during its recovery. An Elizabethan collar may be necessary if it begins to bite and lick at its incision and stitches. If the cat doesn’t take to the E-collar, a T-shirt can be put on the cat to cover its incision. The cat’s owner can gather the bottom of the T-shirt around the cat’s abdomen and place the excess material into a rubber band so the T-shirt is snug around the cat’s belly, preventing it from getting access to its incision and stitches.
Pain medications can help, as well as anti-inflammatory medications.
As long as the cat has been neutered (castrated), it will not develop any more prostatic cysts. Castration causes the prostate gland to begin shrinking, in fact, which may be a positive development for an older, but otherwise healthy cat.
Dietary changes aren’t necessary, but the cat should be encouraged to begin eating again, especially if it lost its appetite and weight before being diagnosed. Offering wet, smelly food may help to stimulate its appetite. These include fishy foods, such as tuna, shrimp and ocean fish.