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Matthew Sisk: Effect of pyometra in cats, dogs
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Leia’s owners call me the day after my conversation with uncle Donnie.

They profusely apologize, relay to me their trust in our practice and how his opinions are not their opinions. They also apologize to every person they speak to on the phone, from receptionist to assistant to doctor.

I thank them for their trust and lament my own familial behavioral quirks. I’m sure many of my relatives roll their eyes at my articles from time to time.

Still, Donnie managed to plant a few seeds of doubt in their minds. They are being responsible by calling with questions. I thank them. Uninvestigated seeds of doubt always grow into weeds of distrust. And trust between a physician and patient/client is essential.

They have one main question: do cats get pyometra?

To my surprise, a few of my staff have the same question. After all, we haven’t seen a cat pyometra case in years. So some of the staff have never seen one in person.

First, a definition. Pyometra is effectively an overwhelming infection of the uterus, “pyo-” indicating pus, and “-metra” indicating the uterus. It is a risk for any animal with a uterus, especially if the animal has ovaries and the associated hormones they produce.

In dogs, it can be fatal. Often it leads to emergency surgery to save a life.

The owners and my staff know this. So why don’t we see it in cats?

The complicated answer is offensive to cat lovers. Pyometra in cats is probably much more fatal than in dogs.

Most sexually intact female dogs are kept that way for a reason, primarily for breeding. That equals a source of income. When that animal gets sick, it goes to the veterinarian.

Most sexually intact female cats are that way because they live outside and have minimal interaction with humans. When that animal gets sick, she often disappears.

Sick cats rarely seek out human help. The result is tragic. Thus, pyometra feline patients are few and far between.

We’ll make sure that won’t happen to Leia.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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