What Is Prostate Gland Inflammation (Prostatitis) in Cats?
The prostate gland in male cats is located behind the bladder and is part of the male reproductive system. It covers the top and sides of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis to outside of the body). While not required for sperm production, the prostate gland produces fluid needed in semen, nourishes the sperm cells, and improves their movement. The colon also runs along the top of the prostate gland.
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland and causes its enlargement. Enlargement of the gland compresses the urethra and colon, causing symptoms.
Prostatitis is rare in cats and is divided into two categories:
Acute prostatitis—the result of a sudden onset of a bacterial infection.
Chronic prostatitis—the result of an untreated or undetected infection.
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Symptoms of Prostatitis in Cats
Straining to urinate or defecate
Painful abdomen when touched or lying down
Bloody discharge from the penis
Stiff walking pattern
Straining to defecate or no stool production
Vocalizing when attempting to urinate
Discharge of blood or pus from the penis (even without urine)
Causes of Prostatitis in Cats
Although not known for certain, it is suspected that prostatitis starts from a bacterial infection in the urine or bladder, and is transferred to the prostate because of their close proximity and connecting tubes. In some cases, that infection can progress to a prostate gland abscess (a pus-filled sac on the prostate gland) that may rupture, spilling its contents into the abdominal cavity.
Other risks factors for developing an enlarged prostate gland are functional testicles (in an intact, non-neutered cat), history of receiving hormones (for treating chronic conditions and some behavior problems), and a compromised immune system.
The factors that predispose a cat to a urinary tract infection also predispose them to prostatitis, including:
•Cancer in the urinary tract
•Injuries to the urinary tract• Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), where male hormones cause increased cell production, resulting in enlargement of the prostate
All male cats are susceptible to prostatitis. Fortunately, prostate gland cancer in cats is rare. When it does occur it typically progresses very quickly.
How Veterinarians Diagnose Prostatitis in Cats
To diagnose prostatitis, a veterinarian will first perform a thorough exam, then work to rule out other common causes of similar symptoms. Tests are based on the physical exam findings, the cat’s history, and previous test results. Tests that may be recommended include:
Urinalysis: To determine the presence of a urinary tract infection, identify suspicion of cancer, and highlight kidney function.
Blood work: To determine kidney function and identify changes in hydration and red and white blood cell concentration.
Rectal exam, X-rays: To check for enlargement of the prostate gland.
Prostatic wash and cytology: To collect a sample that is analyzed for abnormal cells and infectious agents.
Biopsy: To differentiate between BPH, prostate gland cancer, and prostatitis—though obtaining a sample is not always possible.
Urine Culture: To determine the exact bacterial organism and the appropriate antibiotic if an infection is present.
Treatment of Prostate Gland Inflammation (Prostatitis) in Cats
For unneutered male cats, neutering is recommended to reduce the hormonal component of the disease. Antibiotics are used to treat infections. Selection of the most effective antibiotic is based on the urine culture results.
Short-term use of an anti-inflammatory medication (such as Onsior®, prednisolone, or methylprednisolone acetate) may be needed to quickly relieve compression of the urethra and colon. However, anti-inflammatory medications are not recommended for long-term use in cats, due to their risk of causing sudden onset kidney failure, heart failure, or death.
Additional care to alleviate urinary straining or spasms or fecal straining (such as stool softeners or stool lubricators) may be recommended.
In severe cases, surgery to redirect the urine flow may be needed. Surgery might also be required to clean the abdomen of material in cases where an abscess on the prostate gland has ruptured.
Recovery and Management of Prostatitis in Cats
Medical treatment of prostatitis can take two to six weeks to fully resolve. Recovery after neutering surgery is seven to 10 days. However, the time it takes to see the effects of the lower hormone levels on the prostate gland can range from six to eight weeks. During that time, cats with prostatitis may still experience symptoms, but as time progresses the symptoms will become less severe.
Cats with a ruptured prostate gland abscess have a longer recovery time and a more guarded prognosis, but recovery is possible. Prostatitis can reoccur even if treated once.
Prostate Gland Inflammation in Cats FAQs
Is an inflamed prostate gland in cats a sign of cancer?
Not for most cases. Tumors of the prostate gland are extremely rare in cats. If a tumor is present, the symptoms, including bloody urine and straining to urinate or defecate, are usually sudden and progress quickly.
What does an inflamed prostate gland in cats look like?
Although you cannot see or feel a prostate through the skin, signs such as straining to urinate or defecate, bloody discharge from the penis, and a stiff-hind-leg walking pattern warrant a visit to your veterinarian.
Featured Image: iStock.com/Magui-rfajardo
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