If you need one more reason to spay your female cat, look no further than pyometra. Pyometra is a serious, often fatal, bacterial disease that is 100% preventable. Take a minute to learn about this condition, then, if you would do anything to keep your kitty safe and healthy, rush out to your veterinarian and get her spayed.
What Is Pyometra?
Pyometra is Latin meaning pus-filled uterus. It is due to a hormonal problem that sometimes happens after a heat cycle in which the cat did not become pregnant. During a cat's heat cycle, the walls of the uterus engorge with glandular tissue in preparation for hosting a pregnancy. When this engorgement becomes excessive, it is called cystic endometrial hyperplasia.
Although the vagina normally contains bacteria, the cervix is closed and prevents the bacteria from entering the uterus. However, during the heat cycle, the cervix opens to allow the male cat's sperm to enter and fertilize the egg. This can let bacteria enter the uterus, and the engorged lining makes it difficult to rid the uterus of the bacteria resulting in tiny pockets of pus. White blood cells rush to the area to fight the infection, filling the uterus with fluid. After a while, the cervix closes, trapping the bacteria and fluid in the uterus. This can cause toxins and bacteria to cross from the uterus into the bloodstream causing life-threatening effects.
The uterine engorgement and bacterial influx can accumulate with each heat cycle. This is why pyometra is more common in older cats, who have gone through more heat cycles.
The biggest difference between a cat with pyometra and a dog suffering from the same condition is that the cat will often show few symptoms. You may notice a yellowish discharge, but the cat is usually cleaning herself to remove the evidence and is usually eating and behaving normally.
As the condition progresses, you will likely notice lethargy, loss of appetite, and perhaps fever. If the cervix closes, the uterus will become noticeably distended with fluid, and the cat can go downhill rapidly. They refuse to eat, may have abdominal pain, become very depressed, and vomiting and diarrhea may be present.
Treatment for Pyometra
By far the best treatment for pyometra is removal of the infected uterus, in other words, spaying. However, because of the large size of the uterus, it is typically not a routine spay. But still it gives your cat the best chance of survival.
Your vet at a place like Calgary Trail Pet Hospital will likely administer antibiotics as well as IV fluids for dehydration. Some cats may survive without spaying, but there's a good chance pyometra will reoccur in these cats.