It’s been forever since I’ve written so I’ve been given a topic. Not only did I get inspiration thrust upon me, but it was a topic that usually ends up preachy.  No one likes to get preached to unless you’re in church(and sometimes not then, either). However, I feel that if you can find real-world applications for new information, it makes it more interesting and also sticks with you. SO…LET’S GET STARTED.

A normal cat uterus in a young cat will look like the first picture (taken during surgery).

Normal uterus in a young cat.
Normal uterus in a young cat.

A uterus is shaped like a Y with the cervix near the intersection of the three straight lines and the forks of the Y being the uterine horns. The ends of the horns are where you’ll find the ovaries. When we do an ovariohysterectomy(or spay) we remove the uterus and ovaries by tying off ovarian arteries and uterine arteries that supply the uterus and ovaries and removing everything in one piece. In large, overweight animals this can be difficult as fat obscures vision and makes it more difficult to secure your suture. As these arteries branch directly from or close to the aorta, a slipped knot can be extremely dangerous. This is why we never call a spay a ROUTINE SPAY. Spays are done frequently, but are not to be taken lightly as they are a major abdominal procedure.

Cats rarely have problems giving birth, but the following is from one of the exceptions. I had to perform a C-section on this particular cat(see x-ray below).

This is a side view of the mother cat. Notice that the kitten takes up the entire abdomen.
This is a side view of the mother cat. Notice that the kitten takes up the entire abdomen.

Cats normally have multiple kittens in a litter instead of one gigantic kitten like this one. Happily, the surgery was successful. The wow factor of the size of the kitten makes for a good story, but remember that pet overpopulation is a serious issue. For everyone that lets a cat(or dog) roam free without being spayed or neutered, for everyone that just wants their pet to have one litter because it would be fun or educational, they are bringing another animal into the world and taking the chance for a shelter animal to find a home. YouTube has plenty of videos of animals giving birth if you want an educational experience!!

Look again at the first picture and look at the size of the uterus. That’s normal. What you see in this next picture is a uterus full of pus and what is called pyometritis.

Instead of the two small uterine horns like you see in the picture from earlier, notice how huge the horns are now.
Instead of the two small uterine horns like you see in the picture from earlier, notice how huge the horns are now.

In some animals, especially as they get older, material  that would normally get expelled by the smooth muscle in the wall of the uterus remains and becomes a wonderful growth media for bacteria. If the cervix is closed at this time, there is no where for this pus to go until it ruptures and causes a septic abdomen. If the cervix is open, you will often notice a nasty discharge from the vulva.  Some people assume it is diarrhea because all they notice is nasty junk under the dog or cat’s tail.

Finally, I need to mention that risk of mammary cancer can be greatly reduced and the risk of uterine or ovarian cancer eliminated by spaying your animals. Due to protection issues with photos, I did not upload an image of a mammary tumor in dogs or cats, but there are plenty on the internet.

It is still your choice to spay and neuter, and not every animal that is intact will have these complications; however, being prepared and educated can make you a better, wiser person. Thanks for reading!!


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