Infectious infertility in the female in Cats (Felis) | Vetlexicon
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Infectious infertility in the female

ISSN 2398-2950


Presenting signs

  • Failure to become pregnant despite a proven male and sound breeding practices.



Predisposing factors


  • Unvaccinated queens.
  • Large breeding colonies (increased exposure).



  • Infected queens are likely to be infertile. If breeding does occur   →   congenital infection of kittens.
  • Suspected to be transplacental infection.
  • Theory: FeLV   →   immuno-suppression   →   chronic endometritis   →   reproductive failure.

Chlamydial infection

  • Chlamydia often isolated from infertile cats but direct link not proved.

Feline panleukopenia

  • Tropism for rapidly developing cells   →   transplacental spread   →   fetal infection and death.

'Non-specific' causes

  • Probably sporadic ascending or systemic opportunistic infections.


Presenting problems

  • Infertility .
  • Stillbirth, abortion.
  • Small litters.
  • Vaginitis Vaginitis.

Client history

  • Negative pregnancy diagnosis Pregnancy diagnosis despite the use of a proven male.
  • Abortion and stillbirth.
  • Neonatal deaths and weak kittens .
  • No parturition despite positive pregnancy diagnosis Pregnancy diagnosis.
  • Loss of several litters sequentially.
  • Small litters.

Clinical signs

  • Pyrexia in pregnant queens.
  • Abortion.
  • Vaginitis soon after mating.

Diagnostic investigation


  • Virus detection: FeLV FeLV test kits available for use in practice.
  • Antibody detection: Kits available for FIV FIV test for use in practice - rapid and specific.



  • Tissue culture: from conjunctival and/or vaginal swabs for Chlamydia.


  • For opportunistic organisms: pure culture of an organism from fetal stomach, fetal organs, placenta, milk and vaginal discharge (as many sites as possible).


  • For feline panleukopenia Hematology: leucocyte (WBC): rapid, severe fall in all WBC types (although lymphocyte numbers do not fall as commonly as neutrophils). May get a rebound in WBC numbers 24-48 hours after finding the leucopenia.
  • FeLV: simultaneous neutropenia and lymphopenia (more suggestive of FeLV than FPL). Leucopenia more persistent with FeLV than FPL.

Confirmation of diagnosis

Discriminatory diagnostic features

  • History.
  • Clinical signs.

Definitive diagnostic features

  • FeLV test.
  • Chlamydia antibody titer or isolation.

Differential diagnosis

  • Poor breeding management .
  • Infertile male Semen collection.
  • Lack of progesterone support: may fall to very low levels in queens which subsequently abort.
  • Fetal resorption  Uterus: involuntary resorption of embryo . Reduction in litter sizes or disappearance of whole litter may occur following positive ultrasonography with accurate determination of litter size.


Initial symptomatic treatment

  • Queens with viral causes of reproductive failure must not be used for breeding.
  • In-contact cats must be tested.
  • Isolate positive cases.
  • Supportive therapy.

Standard treatment

Chlamydial infection

  • Doxycycline (5mg/kg q24h) Doxycycline. All cats in household should be treated for 4 weeks, or for at least 2 weeks after clinical signs have disappeared.
    Tetracyclines contraindicated in pregnancy and in kittens as it disturbs calcification. However, there is little evidence that kittens' teeth are affected by prolonged administration.

Other organisms

  • According to culture and sensitivity results.



  • Test all cats in a breeding colony or being presented to stud for FeLV/FIV.
  • Vaccination.



  • Viral causes: extremely guarded.

Expected response to treatment

  • Normal pregnancy rates.

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • No authors named (1993) Fertility and infertility in dogs, cats and other carnivores. Proceedings of the 2nd International symposium on canine and feline reporduction. Liege, Belgium, August 1992. J Reprod Fertil Suppl 47, 1-564 PubMed.
  • Stein B S (1991) Reporductive dysfunction in the feline. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 116 (Suppl 1), 96S-102S PubMed.
  • Wolf A M (1989) Feline reproduction. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 114 (Suppl 1), 11S-15S PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Christiansen I J (1984) Reproduction in the Dog and Cat. London: Bailliere Tindall, pp243-245. ISBN 0 7020 0918 0.
  • Chandler E A, Gaskell C J and Gaskell R M (1994) Feline Medicine and Therapeutics. 2nd edn. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, pp 272-273, 445-565. ISBN 0 632 03361 4.
  • Bush B M (1991) Interpretation of Laboratory Results for Small Animal Clinicians. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, pp143-145. ISBN 0 632 03259 6.