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Mastitis in cats
Mastitis in cats can be a very painful condition, although it is not considered an emergency situation most of the time. It is almost always localized, but if it is severe, it can spread to other parts of your cat and can become septic which is a bacterial infection that attacks your catís blood.
Mastitis in cats is a bacterial infection that affects the mammary glands, which are any of the milk producing glands and consist of lobes of alveoli with a system of ducts that transport the milk in a female cat to an external nipple. These glands will almost always occur in pairs and begin secreting milk after the birth of a litter.
This infection can occur in just one gland, or it can affect multiple glands and is generally caused by an infection that enters into your cat from an opening. It can also be caused by a trauma from the litter such as biting, or it can be spread in the blood, especially if it is an older female.
If it is localized to just one gland, your cat may show no symptoms at all or any signs of an illness. However, if it has spread and is in several glands, you cat can become very ill. For this reason, the mammary glands should be checked daily. If these glands are warm, hard, or painful at all to your nursing cat, they are infected. It is also a good idea to check the milk daily as well. If the milk is off colored or clumping, it has become infected with bacteria.
There are several symptoms with this infection that you can watch for other than checking the volume of the glands or the milk. When checking the glands to see if they are warm or hard, you can also check for swelling, as this symptom will surface before the gland actually becomes painful to your cat.
Redness will also start to occur in the teats before they become painful and are usually followed shortly after by the discoloration of the milk as well as a discharge from the glands themselves. If there is a discharge, the next symptom you can watch for is an abscess.
This is an especially dangerous symptom as the abscess can easily break and cause the infection to spread to other parts of your catís body. A sudden fever is also another symptom to watch for.
However, perhaps the two most obvious symptoms that your cat not only has this infection but the infection has become serious will be kittens that are chronically crying or sick. These symptoms need to be treated very seriously as it could easily lead to the death of the newborn litter.
There will be several different forms of treatments and the exact treatment will depend on the severity of the infection. The first form of treatment for mastitis is antibiotics, and which kind will all depend of the pH tests of your catís milk which is extremely important in effectively treating this infection.
The pH level of your cat milk is the measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of the milk, and it is measured in ranges from 0 to 14. The neutral number is usually considered to be at 7.0, but most catsí pH levels rest between 6.6 and 6.9. If it is 7.0 or higher, it is a risk. If your cat nurses at levels above 7.0, it may be toxic to the litter.
Once your veterinarian has determined this level, the antibiotics are usually given by the owner at home unless it is a severe infection, in which case they will be administered intravenously. Until the pH level is brought down to a safe level, it may be recommended to feed the litter with a milk replacer.
A warm water compress such as a hot water rubber bottle container will also be used to help with the draining of the infected fluid. It is very important to make absolutely certain, however, that it is warm and not hot. Until the fluid is properly drained, if you decide not to use a milk replacer, manual milking may also be a form of treatment.
In most all but the severest of cases, this warm compress therapy will accomplish two things. First, it will help with the flow of the blood as well as helping the antibiotics to penetrate the infected tissues much more effectively.
If there has been an abscess develop, the treatment for this infection will be to surgically drain it as this will assist the effectiveness of the antibiotics. This form of treatment will have to be monitored by your veterinarian to ensure that all of the infection has been removed. If not, it may have to be drained again until it is totally removed.
If this infection has become severe and has killed several of your catís tissues, the only effective treatment may be a mastectomy, or the removal of the mammary gland. However, this form of treatment is extremely rare.
If the infection is considered very severe and has become septic, meaning that it has spread, the form of treatment will be intravenous fluid therapy that is very expensive and will take several days for your cat to fully recover. However, in most all cases they will fully recover.
The final form of treatment will be to weigh the litter everyday. If the treatments are effective, it will show in the kittenís weight as they will be getting the proper nutrients back in their body.
Mastitis in cats can be very painful to the nursing mother and potentially life threatening to the litter. However, the treatments are usually very successful, depending on the severity of the infection. Once completed, the mother and the litter should be free of the infection and live healthy and normal lives.
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