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Pancreatitis

Pyometra or Womb Infection


Pancreatitis


The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach and the first section of the small intestine, the duodenum. It has two main functions:

  1. It aids in metabolism of sugar in the body through the production of insulin
  2. It is necessary for the digestion of nutrients by producing pancreatic enzymes. These enzymes help the body promote the digestion and absorption of fats.

Acute pancreatitis is a sudden onset of pancreatic inflammation. It can be a life-threatening condition, and early recognition and treatment can improve chances of recovery.


Causes of Pancreatitis

Many factors can contribute to the development of pancreatitis.

Certain medications, infections such as Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Toxoplasmosis; metabolic disorders including a high amounts of lipid or fat in the blood and hypercalcaemia (high amounts of calcium in the blood); as well as trauma and shock can be associated with the development of pancreatitis.

Symptoms

Cats tend to have more non-specific symptoms compared to dogs with pancreatitis. Cats often show

  • a fever
  • increase heart rate
  • abdominal pain
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • less than 50% of cats with acute pancreatitis have vomiting as a symptom.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of pancreatitis is made through information obtained from the history, the physical exam, and laboratory testing.

Radiography and ultrasound may not be helpful in diagnosing pancreatitis in cats because of the more chronic nature of the disease.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to rest the pancreas, provide supportive care and control complications.

Treatment always begins with a withholding of food, water, and oral medications for at least 24 hours. The lack of food intake stops the stimulation of the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes.

Depending upon the animal's response, food intake can be started again after a few days. The cat is generally fed small meals of a bland, easily digestible, low-fat food.

Over the course of a week or more, the size of meals and quantity of food fed are increased. The cat may need to stay on the special diet for life, or it may be possible to gradually reintroduce the former diet.

The second major component of treatment is fluid therapy. Fluids are given intravenously and the proper fluid and electrolyte balances are maintained.

Cats who are experiencing severe pain can be treated with pain killers. Antibiotics are often administered to protect against infection.

If the pancreatitis was caused by a medication, the medication should be stopped. If it was caused by a toxin, infection, or other condition, appropriate therapy for the underlying condition should be started.

Cats who have repeated bouts of pancreatitis may need to be fed low-fat diets to prevent recurrence.

 

Pyometra or womb infection


Pyometra is a disease mainly of middle-aged female cats that have not been neutered or spayed.

Pyometra is not simply a womb infection, it is a hormonal abnormality, and a secondary bacterial infection may or may not be present.

Pyometra follows a heat cycle in which fertilization did not occur. Typically, within two to four months after the cycle, the female starts showing signs of the disease.

Causes of pyometra in cats

The two main hormones produced by the ovaries are oestrogen and progesterone. An excessive quantity of progesterone causes pyometra. In either case, cysts form in the lining of the uterus.

At this point, the condition is called 'endometrial hyperplasia,' and generally, the cat will not show signs of disease.

As these cysts grow, large quantities of fluids are produced and released into the interior of the uterus. Bacteria commonly colonise the uterus by entering through the cervix.

This produces an even greater response by the body, as it showers additional fluid and white blood cells into the affected organ. The condition is then called 'pyometra.' If the lining of the uterus becomes infected, the condition is termed 'endometritis.'

This fluid, along with a thickening of the walls of the uterus, brings about a dramatic increase in the overall size of this organ.

The uterus is made up of a body with two horns. In the unaffected cat, the horns are smaller than a pencil. However, in cases of pyometra, they become large, sac-like pouches.

As the disease continues, fluid moves from the uterus to the vagina and then spills out onto the vulva causing the cat to lick this area in an attempt to keep herself clean.

Other causes of a pyometra are those unneutered cats that are treated for skin problems or breeding queens where the owners wish to delay their season and the cat is given Ovarid tablets.

These have the side-effect of potentially causing a hormone imbalance with a resulting pyometra.

Symptoms

The most common sign is a white/yellow or blood-tinged discharge from the vulva. The cat will lick at her vaginal area while the cervix is still open and the uterus is discharging a white fluid.

The abdomen may appear distended and the cat may vomit, not eat, and become lethargic. Drinking excessively is less common in cats compared to dogs.

Some cats will have a fever and some may become dehydrated. If blood work is done, she will show an elevated white blood cell count.

Treatment

Since toxicity may develop very quickly in cats with pyometra, it needs to be treated promptly. Cats will receive intravenous fluids, usually for several days, and antibiotics.

The recommended treatment is a complete ovariohysterectomy (spay). This removes the ovaries, oviducts, uterus, and all associated blood vessels.

Prevention

The best prevention of pyometra is to have all female cats spayed at or before six months of age. If the cat is used for breeding, then spaying the queen after she is past her breeding years is highly recommended.

Pyometra is a fairly common and serious problem and is just one of many obvious reasons to have your female cat spayed at an early age as it is preventable.