Simply put, pyometra is an infection in the uterus , it is one of the most common reproductive diseases in cats. Pyometra is a serious and life-threatening condition that must be treated quickly and aggressively.
The pyometra is a secondary infection that occurs due to hormonal changes in the reproductive tract of the female. After estrus, progesterone levels remain elevated for several weeks, stimulating the uterine lining to thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur for several cycles of estrus, the lining continues to thicken until cysts form in the uterus. The thickened, cystic lining secretes fluids that create an ideal environment in which bacteria can grow. Additionally, high progesterone levels inhibit the a bility of the muscles in the wall of the uterus to contract and expel accumulated fluid or bacteria. Types of feline pyometra
We can classify it in:
Closed pyometra: the cervix does not open, so the pus is not expelled to the outside and accumulates inside the uterus . It can be difficult for us to identify it.
Open pyometra: the cervix is open, the pus comes out . You will notice that the cat may have brownish spots around the vulva, as if it were releasing a discharge.
How do bacteria enter the uterus?
The cervix is the gateway to the uterus. It remains tightly closed, except during estrus, when it relaxes to allow sperm to enter the uterus.
If the cervix is open or relaxed, bacteria normally found in the vagina can easily enter the uterus . If the uterus is normal, the uterine environment is adverse to bacterial survival; however, when the uterine wall is thickened or cystic, the perfect conditions for bacterial growth exist. Also, when these abnormal conditions exist, the muscles of the uterus cannot contract properly due to the thickening of the uterine wall or the hormone progesterone. This means that the bacteria that enter the uterus cannot be expelled.
Pyometra can happen in any young or middle-aged cat; however, it is more common in older cats.
After many years of estrous cycles without pregnancy, the uterine wall undergoes the changes that cause this disease. Pyometry takes place two to eight weeks after the last estrus or “heat cycle.”
How to know if my cat suffers from pyometra?
First, you have to know that cats, unlike female dogs, do not “stain”, they do not have discharge during heat. Therefore, if you observe that your cat has vulvar discharge, blood or any other liquid, you should go to the vet.
In the cases of the closed pyometer, you will observe that as the days and weeks go by, the cat will lose energy, will be tired, will drink more water and more frequently, there will come a time when she will vomit and will not be able to move .
What are the symptoms of pyometra?
The clinical signs depend on whether the cervix remains open or not.
If it is open, the pus will drain from the uterus through the vagina to the outside. This discharge can be seen on the skin, under the tail, on the bedding or where the cat has been lying down. In many cases, the cat has been able to clear the discharge before it can be seen. With an open pyometer, fever, lethargy, anorexia, and depression may not be present.
If the cervix is closed, the pus that forms cannot drain out. It accumulates in the uterus causing distention of the abdomen . Bacteria release toxins that are absorbed into the circulation. Cats with closed pyometry quickly become seriously ill. They stop eating, they are listless and very depressed. They may also have vomiting or diarrhea.
The toxins released by bacteria affect the kidney’s ability to retain fluids. There is an increase in urine output, and the cat drinks more water to compensate . This occurs in both the open and closed pyometry.
When the problem is not detected in time, the retained pus can transmit the bacteria to the blood of the rest of the body, causing septicemia due to this general infection , which can cause the death of the cat.
Peritonitis can also occur if the uterus becomes distended beyond its capabilities, or if the animal suffers a blow that, due to swelling, causes the uterus to burst.
How is the diagnosis of pyometra carried out?
Cats that are examined early in the disease may have a mild vaginal discharge and show no other signs of disease; however, most cats with pyometra are diagnosed with more advanced disease and greater problems.
Any very sick cat that is drinking a greater amount of water and has not been spayed should be suspected of having pyometra. This is especially true if there is a vaginal discharge or a swollen and painful abdomen.
At the clinic, a physical examination is performed, followed by an abdominal ultrasound to check the status of the uterus and confirm the diagnosis.
Urinalysis is an extremely reliable method. The presence of albumin, blood, leukocytes and low density together with the clinical manifestations would confirm the pyometra.
If the cervix is closed, radiographs (radiographs) of the abdomen will often identify the enlarged uterus. If the cervix is open, there will often be such minimal uterine enlargement that the X-ray will be inconclusive.
An ultrasound exam can be helpful in identifying an enlarged uterus and differentiating it from a normal pregnancy.
Treatment for pyometra
The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries . Cats diagnosed in the early phase of the disease are very good surgical candidates.
Pyrometric surgery is somewhat more complicated than routine sterilization at this stage. However, most cats are diagnosed when they are quite ill, resulting in a more complicated surgical procedure and a longer period of hospitalization.
Intravenous fluids are required to stabilize the cat before and after surgery. Antibiotics are usually given for two weeks after the operation.
The sterilization of a cat when it is young and healthy is the best way to prevent pyometra.
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