reproductive and urinary organs: uterine infection

The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care




Pyometra is a type of uterine infection that occurs commonly in older unspayed (or partially spayed) females. It occurs most often in females who have never had a litter and is probably due to a hormonal imbalance that develops when cats undergo repeated reproductive cycles without breeding. In cases of pyometra where the cervix is open there is usually a sticky reddish to yellow, puslike, abnormal-smelling discharge from the vulva. Other cases have no discharge. A female with pyometra is often listless, lacks appetite, and has a fever.

Her abdomen may look distended, and she may show signs of discomfort when it is touched. She may show increased water intake and increased urination. If not treated, this condition can cause death. Although some drugs can be used for treatment, ovariohysterectomy (spaying) is the treatment of choice for pyometra. Cats treated without surgery often do not recover, and if they do recover, recurrences are frequent. Females with pyometra are much poorer surgical risks than healthy young cats, so consider having an ovariohysterectomy performed when your cat is young, and rush your cat to a veterinarian if you think pyometra may be present.


A retained placenta or fetus, or a lack of cleanliness during delivery, can result later in an infection of the uterus, acute metritis. It may also follow or accompany spontaneous abortion. A female with acute metritis is usually depressed, febrile (feverish), lacks appetite, and may seem uninterested in her kittens. She may seem excessively thirsty, vomit, and/or have diarrhea. The discharge from the vulva is often odorous, reddish, and watery, or later dark brown and puslike. This condition calls for immediate treatment by a veterinarian. Kittens may have to be raised by hand since females with acute metritis often do not have enough milk or the milk produced may be toxic.