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Cat "sex change"??
121sweetie posted:
My friend's male cat kept getting urinary infections so the vet cut off his penis and said that would help. Now he just has a hole there like a female cat. I have never heard of such a thing, is this common??? I thought, at least in humans, that men get less urinary infections because the penis keeps the bacteria out. How would cutting it off help???
srstephanie responded:
Hi 121sweetie,

I know of a number of people whose male cats have had that surgery. I don't know how "common" it is, but it is one treatment used when male cats block frequently.

The problem in male cats is that the urethra (tube the urine passes through from the bladder out) becomes narrow at the end of the penis. Some cats are prone to urinary crystals or bladder stones. In females, it is less of a problem because the urethra in females is wider. But in males it more easily blocks so that urine can't pass through. That can become life threatening very quickly and many male cats die from blockages.

If diet changes (such as added water and canned food that is make to adjust the pH of the urine) ... don't prevent recurring blockages, then some will try to remove the penis to avoid the narrow end and make blockages less likely.

You are correct that male cats that have the surgery to remove the penis do become more prone to bacterial infections. It is something the owner will need to keep an eye out for. But infections can be treated with antibiotics ... and do not normally become critical in a matter of hours ... as blockages can. So, it is sort of a matter of the lesser of two evils.

Either with or without the surgery, one of the best things one can do is to increase the water intake (via food or water fountains, etc) to keep the bladder flushed out. I think that will also help to keep the bacteria flushed out and less chance of an infection.

Several of the people that I know whose cats have had this procedure done ... have said that it took care of the problem and their cat no longer had blockage problems ... and infections haven't seemed to be a problem for their cats.

By the way, it isn't really a "sex change". The cat is still male, but just has one part of the reproductive organs removed. Assuming the cat is neutered, it shouldn't effect him other than possibly saving his life by reducing the chance of a blockage.

I'm not a vet, so hopefully you will get a vet response that will correct anything I may have said that is not correct.

Good luck,

Stephanie in Montreal
Ernie Ward, DVM replied to srstephanie's response:
Nicely done, Stephanie. Sounds like a concerned and curious friend. Additionally, I add cranberry extracts to all my chronic UTI/urethral obstruction cases. Good luck to this kitty! Dr. Ernie
nicolemi replied to Ernie Ward, DVM's response:
Dr Ward,
My cat had PU surgery and post surgery for 6 months had chronic e coli bladder infections. At that time my vet had him on pulse cranberry supplements. After 16 months infection free, he is now fighting staph bladder infections. I am with a different vet now because of a move and have not discussed cranberry with him. A few questions, as I understand it, cranberry is only effective with e coli, is this correct? Further, do you worry about the benzoic acid content of cranberries? I understood that benzoic acid can be lethal for cats at 300mg/kg. I searched for the content in cranberry extracts, but was unable to find it, but if cranberry juice is any indication it would be much lower than the lethal dose.


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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