Feline pyometra: cause, symptoms, and treatment

Feline pyometra is an infectious pathology of the cat’s reproductive system. Let’s see the causes, symptoms and treatment.

Feline pyometra is a bacterial infection in the uterus. The uterine lining becomes compact, infected with bacteria and filled with pus. Bacteria from the uterus can leak into the blood and abdomen, causing shock and later death.

Causes of Feline Pyometra

This assumption occurs after a period of estrus or “heat”, when the hormones of progesterone remain at a very high level in the cat’s body. The cat’s uterine lining will begin to prepare for a probable pregnancy by becoming thick.

If pregnancy does not occur, it is assumed that the coating will thin again, but in some cats, however, abnormal cystic growth may occur, which will create a suitable situation for the growth of bacteria and, when this occurs, it forms what is called pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus.

Any sexually ready cat is at risk of developing pyometra, particularly in cats taking progesterone drugs to treat another condition, they are at higher risk.

Diagnosis of pyometra in cats

In the cat that is examined at the beginning of the disease, a very small vaginal discharge may be found and in any case it does not show other particular symptoms of this disease. However, most cats with pyometra are not observed except in the advanced stage of the disease.

This happens when the symptoms are clearly visible and we realize that they tend to drink more water, consequently tend to urinate a lot and do not eat enough or almost at all. If the cat has not been spayed it will most likely be a potential cat with pyometra.

The diagnosis is therefore based on the association between anamnesis, symptoms and diagnostic investigations. Among the latter, an ultrasound, in some cases even an X-ray, can give us a precise diagnosis , allowing us to determine the size of the uterus, the thickness of its walls and the presence of fluid (pus) accumulated inside.

Absolutely supportive are certainly the laboratory tests, with blood tests, urine tests or vaginal swabs of the cat. There are two types of pyometra, open cervix and closed cervix , classified according to the condition of the uterine cervix, which is the structure that separates the uterus from the vagina.

  • In cats with an open cervical pyometra, the pus produced in the uterus exits through the vagina, therefore these animals have a vaginal discharge containing pus and blood. This is usually noticeable 4-8 weeks after the heat ends. This type of pyometra can be quickly recognized during the vet visit due to the presence of vaginal discharge.
  • In pyometra with a closed cervix, the pus is unable to escape and accumulates in the uterus, gradually dilating it. Due to the lack of the easily recognizable symptom of vaginal discharge, this pyometra is more difficult to diagnose during the visit. However, due to the frequency of this pathology, pyometra is always considered in the probable pathologies in the diagnosis phase in unsterilized cats showing symptoms of distress.

In this second case the pathology is much more serious, and an intervention not at the right time can lead to a high risk of death. Although in conclusion an open pyometra does not mean that it is less serious, but in some cases it can get worse within a few days and determine the end of the animal.

The severity of the disease depends precisely on the immeasurable proliferation of bacteria that release endotoxins, which are absorbed through the circulatory system, causing systemic intoxication, characterized not only by vomiting and diarrhea of ​​the cat, but also by alterations of the renal glomeruli, with consequent predisposition to a possible renal insufficiency.

The toxins produced by the bacteria affect the kidney’s ability to retain fluids. Increased urine production occurs and the animal tends to drink an excessive amount of water. This occurs in both open and closed cervix pyometra. The state of malaise will therefore be evident in most cases: the initial symptoms are inappetence, apathy and dejection, vomiting of the cat.

Symptoms of Feline Pyometra

The symptoms of feline pyometra also vary depending on whether the cat’s cervix is ​​open or closed.

  • Open cervix: Foul-smelling vaginal discharge (blood, pus, or mucus) is the first sign of an infected uterus. You may see this discharge on the animal’s skin, hair under the tail, or notice it on the ground anywhere else the animal has lain down.                                                              In these cases, the cat gives the impression of being less severe because the infection is able to leave the body, creating a leak. You need to know that many cats cleanse themselves of vaginal discharge before you know it.
  • Closed cervix: in this case no vaginal discharge will be seen.  Rather, the infection leaks into the bloodstream and abdomen, causing shock and death. These cats will be sicker than those with an open cervix because the infection remains in their body.

Common symptoms in the closed cervix:

  • Cat apathy and depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive drinking and urinating
  • He retched
  • Abdominal pain and swelling

If you haven’t spayed your cat and you notice any of the symptoms listed above, go to your vet right away. Pyometra is fatal if not promptly treated.

Treatment of feline pyometra

Regardless of whether the pyometra is open or closed, the vet will recommend spaying the cat to treat this condition. Spaying a female cat involves the surgical removal of the sexual organs, including the uterus and ovaries. Your cat may need intravenous fluids before surgery to stabilize her condition.

Antibiotics will most likely be given after surgery to ensure that the infection does not return or spread to other parts of the body. If your cat needs to breed, your vet may be able to offer an alternative treatment to neutering. Hormones will be given that cause the uterus to contract and open the cervix so that pus is able to drain from the uterus.

The vet will then be able to culture the bacteria to determine which antibiotics should be given. Cats can experience side effects from this treatment, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Sterilization is usually the most widely used treatment method, so this method is only used if reproduction is absolutely necessary.


From the moment your cat receives treatment, you will need to be careful, before the uterus can unintentionally rupture or the infection can spread.  This will mean that you will have to watch her carefully once she is home to make sure that a possible relapse does not occur, which is why you will have to be careful not to notice the same symptoms you experienced the first time.

Make sure you follow your vet’s instructions carefully and administer all necessary medications. Make sure you don’t miss a single dose of the antibiotic, as this can lead to a serious health condition for your cat .

If your cat has undergone surgery, keep her in near-impeccable hygienic conditions so that no bacteria enter the wound, until you need to return your cat to the vet for follow-up and have the stitches removed.

If your cat has not undergone surgery, she will still need to go back to the vet so that the vet can see if the uterus is healing as it should after certain days.


Compared to the bitch (Pyometra in the dog), it has important peculiarities. The disease affects the cat to a lesser extent due to the different reproductive physiology.

In fact, the cat is an animal with induced ovulation, as the latter does not occur spontaneously, as in most animal species, but there must be mating. What does it all mean? In practice, it means that the cat’s uterus will not be subject to the influence of progesterone unless ovulation has occurred.

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