Kittens' Health and Proper Development if their Mother had Pyometra

by Deb
(Dublin, CA, USA)


I am considering adopting an Ocicat from a breeder who told me that the mother cat had pyometra prior to breeding and that their vet advised them to breed her to prevent another infection. She then produced a litter with 2 live males and 2 partially formed fetuses. Are there any increased risks of 1) health problems or 2) less than optimal development concerns for the surviving kittens?


Dear Deb,

You pose an interesting question. And an almost impossible one to answer. On the one hand, one would perhaps assume that if the surviving kittens are growing and thriving and have been examined by a veterinarian and received a clean bill of health, it is unlikely that the pyometra suffered by their mother will have any lasting effects on the kittens. One could argue that the partially developed fetuses were much more likely the result of the mother's overall health and infection than an indicator of the kittens' health in general. This infection could simply have made the mother ill and malnourished or could have deformed to some extent her uterus, making it less able to carry a full litter to term.

On the other hand, we know that there are many instances of kittens and human children for that matter appearing healthy for a number of weeks, months or even years before a health problem surfaces. Since we don't know all the causes of conditions such as cancer, early kidney disease, cardiomyopathy in cats, and many other cat illnesses, we can't say for sure that even healthy appearing kittens aren't programmed for some future health problem either for genetic reasons or due to circumstances in the womb or during birth.

However, any kitten or grown cat you adopt under any circumstances may have conditions that are silent but that will be expressed at some later age. We are always taking a chance, if you want to call it that, when we adopt or give birth or simply live in this world. It is never possible to know how long anyone or any kitten is going to remain healthy regardless of what may appear to be excellent health at the moment.

I didn't mean to get so philosophical about your question, but the truth is, there's just no way of knowing for sure. I don't think that should ever discourage us from giving a loving home to kittens in need.

I would like to add that I don't agree with the advice of the veterinarian concerning the mother. Pyometra is such a serious life-threatening condition and can appear to be resolved with antibiotics, yet can be brewing beneath the surface still and be a threat to the mother's life. The only definite cure for pyometra is to spay the female cat.

I wish you the best whatever your decision may be.

Dr. Neely

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