Furrgie, a six year old female domestic short hair cat, went from being petite to portly practically overnight. Furrgie is a friendly, vocal kitty, so when her owners noticed she was not seeking their attention and her appetite had dwindled they knew something was wrong. She was brought to Hampden Family Pet Hospital where abdominal xrays and an ultrasound were performed, which revealed her uterus was severely enlarged with fluid. (*Insert AXR with labels) She was taken to surgery at which time her ovaries and uterus were removed (called an ovariohysterectomy or spay). The abnormal uterus weighed approximately two pounds (20% of her body weight) and was consistent with a condition called hydrometra, or an abnormal collection of fluid in the uterus. She recovered very well after surgery and was back to her playful self within no time.
Though diseases of the uterus, such as hydrometra and pyometra (uterine infection), are uncommon, they can be life threatening and are easily prevented with routine spaying. The most common symptoms are lethargy, decreased appetite, a distended and possibly painful abdomen, increased thirst/urination, and occasionally vulvar discharge that may be malodorous. If the uterus is not removed surgically, systemic infection and even rupture of the organ (leading to septic peritonitis) is possible and can be fatal. Spaying your pet early in life not only prevents this condition from occurring, but also confers other health benefits such as decrease risk of mammary cancer. If you suspect your animal may have this condition or you would like to discuss spaying your pet, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.