What is Pyometra?
If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body or rupture the uterus. Both types of pyometra can be fatal, so it’s important to bring your cat into a veterinarian as soon as you spot the symptoms.
Pyometra is a bacterial infection that occurs in the uterus of a cat. Infections occur in sexually intact female cats after they have been in heat. If your cat has pyometra, you may notice a change in her drinking and urinating habits, or the presence of vaginal discharge.
Symptoms of Pyometra in Cats
Pyometra is a very serious, life-threatening health condition that requires immediate medical attention. If you spot any symptoms of pyometra, take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Vaginal discharge
- High fever
- Weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
There are two types of this condition:
- Open: Pus drains out of the cat’s vagina.
- Closed: Pus is held inside the uterus by a closed cervix.
Causes of Pyometra in Cats
This condition occurs after a period of estrus or “heat”, when progesterone hormones stay at an elevated level in your cat’s body. The cat’s uterine lining will begin to prepare for a potential pregnancy by becoming thick. If no pregnancy occurs, the lining is supposed to thin out again, but some cats will begin to experience abnormal cystic growth instead. This creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, and when it does, the result is pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus.
Every sexually intact female cat is at risk of developing pyometra, however, those who are taking progesterone-based drugs to treat another condition are at a higher risk.
Diagnosis of Pyometra in Cats
If you spot any of the symptoms of pyometra, bring your cat to a veterinarian immediately. Describe the symptoms you have observed, when they began, and tell your vet whether your cat is spayed or not. You should also let the vet know when your cat’s last heat cycle was, since this condition only develops after a period of heat.
Basic tests such as a complete blood count and blood chemistry profile test may be performed at the beginning of the examination. These tests will show the vet your cat has an elevated level of white blood cells, which indicates an infection is present in the body.
There are two types of pyometra: open and closed. If your cat has open pyometra, there will be vaginal discharge that will help the vet make a quick diagnosis of the condition. However, cats with closed pyometra do not have discharge, as it is kept inside the uterus by a closed cervix. The vet will most likely need to perform an X-ray of the lower abdomen to spot the enlarged uterus and make a diagnosis. A vaginal exam may also be performed so the vet can check the area for abnormalities.
Treatment of Pyometra in Cats
Regardless of whether the pyometra is open or closed, the vet will recommend that your cat be spayed to treat this condition. Spaying a cat involves surgically removing the sexual organs, including the uterus and ovaries. Your cat may need IV fluids prior to the surgery in order to stabilize her condition. Antibiotics will most likely be given after the surgery to ensure the infection does not return or spread to other parts of the body.
If your cat is needed for breeding purposes, the vet may be able to offer an alternative treatment to spaying. Hormones will be administered that cause the uterus to contract and the cervix to open so the pus is able to drain out of the uterus. The vet will then be able to culture the bacteria to determine which antibiotics should be administered. Cats may experience side effects from this treatment, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Spaying is usually the preferred method of treatment, so this method is only used if breeding is absolutely necessary.
Recovery of Pyometra in Cats
As long as your cat receives treatment before the uterus ruptures or the infection spreads, she should make a full recovery from pyometra. However, you will need to closely watch her once she is home to ensure she is not experiencing the same symptoms you first noticed.
Be sure to carefully follow your vet’s instructions and administer all medications as needed. Missing just a single dose of an antibiotic can lead to a major setback in your cat’s health.
If your cat went through surgery, keep her as clean as possible so no bacteria makes its way into the incision. You will need to bring your cat back to the vet for a follow-up and to have the stitches removed. If your cat did not have surgery, she will still need to return to the vet so he can see if the uterus is healing as it should be.
Pyometra Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My cat just recently was spayed on March 17th. Upon picking her up I was informed she had a pyometra. I was sent home with clavamox but finished that about a week ago. She is showing symptoms of being in pain again and sleeping a lot and seems uncomfortable. Her incision site looks like it has healed fine. Wondering if the infection could still be there?
Penelope shouldn’t still be feeling pain or discomfort from the spay or effects from the pyometra. There may be a connection to the spay; but there are many different other conditions which may cause these symptoms including hairballs, other foreign objects, other obstructions, tumours or poisoning. I would return to your Veterinarian for a follow up examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My cat was recently diagnosed with pyometra and had the surgery on thursday night. I picked her up friday evening and noticed a small spot where she'd bled on to her blanket. it is now saturday evening and she is still spotting and the spots are the size of a penny. They appear to only cover the surface of the blanket. I looked at the incision and there appears to be a spot of dried blood near the incision that has not changed. I noticed some discharge near her urinary tract. So I believe this is where the bleeding is coming from. Is this a cause for concern?
Good day, my cat was diagnosed with pyometra and was operated last july 5 but like the her skin is cutting the doctor told me that the pus was exploded inside, but before they close the wound they cleaned it. Is their any risk of infections will occur? Will my cat can survive? Thank you hope to answer my qouestions
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Hello I'm in Canada my cat has syptoms of pyometra but I have no money to take her to vet what xam I do she's getting weaker how long do I got to get her helpI'm stressed out
Pyometra is a serious condition which can lead to septicemia and death if not treated immediately. Surgery is treatment of choice, but medical management is possible in some cases. Regardless of cost, you need to visit your Veterinarian for antibiotics and supportive care at a minimum; if you are worried about cost call your local Charity Clinic to see if they can help in return for a modest donation. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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