Dear VetBabble: Confused About My Cat’s Gender and UTI
I adopted a spayed female cat 2 years ago. She developed a UTI. The vet now says she’s male. How is that possible? I guess that whoever sexed your cat originally was wrong. It’s not that difficult to tell the difference between the two, especially in an adult cat.
It’s understandable to feel baffled when your pet’s gender is questioned after years of believing otherwise. Although distinguishing between male and female cats is relatively simple for professionals, some cases can be challenging. In this article, we’ll discuss the complexities of identifying a cat’s gender, the connection between gender misidentification and urinary issues, and the importance of addressing symptoms promptly to ensure your cat’s well-being.
Challenges in Determining a Cat’s Gender
Although determining a cat’s gender is generally straightforward, complications can arise when kittens are very young or in cases of cryptorchidism (undescended testicles) in male cats. Depending on the situation, a cat’s genitalia may appear ambiguous, leading to confusion.
In general, male cats have their anus and genital opening farther apart than females. However, kittens’ genitals may appear similar, making it difficult to tell them apart in the first few weeks of life. Additionally, if a male cat has cryptorchidism, it may resemble a female because the testicles are not visible. Consequently, the cat could be misidentified as female and undergo a spaying procedure that proves ineffective and unrecognized, resulting in a valid sex change revelation at a later vet visit.
Desexing, or neutering and spaying, cats is a common practice and is often performed to control the growth of feline populations or to prevent certain health and behavioral issues. This can lead to an assumption that a cat has been altered without verifying the cat’s actual gender. To gain insight on desexing procedures, you can read about it here.
Urinary Tract Infections and Gender Misidentification
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more prevalent in female cats, but male cats can also be affected. In cases where a gender misidentification has occurred, a UTI can serve as the catalyst for discovering the truth about your cat’s sex.
Male cats are at higher risk of developing urinary blockages if they suffer from a UTI. The problem arises when crystals or mucus form in the cat’s bladder and create stones or plugs, obstructing urine flow. This condition, known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Furthermore, desexed male cats might encounter complications such as crystals or stones due to anatomical differences after neutering, making them more susceptible to FLUTD. Learn more about why a cat may struggle to pee here.
Recognition of a cat’s true gender becomes essential when diagnosing and addressing urinary issues, as treatment methods differ based on the gender and source of the problem.
Importance of Addressing Urinary Symptoms in Cats
Regardless of your cat’s gender, it’s crucial to recognize symptoms of urinary issues and seek veterinary care promptly. Signs can include frequent attempts to urinate, vocalizing while in the litter box, blood in the urine, or avoiding the litter tray altogether. If your cat is experiencing litter box problems, you can read about possible reasons here.
If your cat’s gender has been misidentified and proper treatments have not been administered, they are potentially at risk for further health complications. For instance, female cats with untreated UTIs can develop upper urinary tract and kidney infections. Male cats, as previously mentioned, could be at risk for life-threatening urinary obstructions and need prompt, appropriate intervention.
Urinary health issues are also prevalent in other domestic animals; for instance, spay urinary incontinence in dogs is a common problem that can affect their quality of life. Discover more about this topic here.
Ultimately, as loving and responsible pet owners, staying vigilant about your furry friend’s health and addressing concerns promptly will ensure a happy and healthy life for your feline companion.