Prostatic Disease in Cats

By Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM

Medical Conditions, Pet Services

What is the prostate?

cat_m_reproductive_system_prostate_2018The prostate is a small gland located near the neck of the urinary bladder of male cats. The urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body) passes under the prostate shortly after leaving the bladder. In cats, the prostate does not encircle the urethra entirely as in dogs; it covers only the top and sides. The purpose of the prostate is to produce some of the fluids found in semen. Prostate disease is extremely rare in cats.

What are the signs of prostate disease?

Enlargement of the prostate gland is common with most prostatic diseases. Since the urethra passes under the prostate, enlargement of the gland compresses the urethra and urination can become difficult and uncomfortable. Complete urethral obstruction may occur with prostatic disease. If the prostate is very enlarged, the colon, located just above the prostate, may also become compressed, causing difficulty with passing bowel movements.

Cats with prostate enlargement often have a history of straining to defecate or urinate. Bloody urine may possibly be seen with prostatic disease, but may also be seen with other diseases.

What are the diseases that cause the prostate to enlarge?

Because of the significant lack of noted prostate disease in the cats, not much is known. They may experience similar conditions to dogs though only rare cases of prostate cancer have been noted.

How is prostatic disease diagnosed?

Enlargement of the prostate may be noted on a rectal exam. Radiographs (X-rays) or an ultrasound examination may be required to diagnose an enlarged prostate gland.

Other tests to determine the exact cause of a particular patient's condition may include:

  • culture of the cat's urine to determine if there is a bacterial infection,
  • a microscopic examination of the cells in the urine, and
  • a microscopic examination of the cells in prostatic fluid or in the prostate itself from a fine needle aspiration (FNA). FNA involves taking a small needle with a syringe and suctioning a sample of cells directly from the prostate and placing them on a microscope slide. A veterinary pathologist then examines the slide under a microscope.

Prostate cancer in cats is extremely aggressive, and often the first noted sign may be a sudden and progressive onset of illness.

How is prostate disease treated?

Because of the rare occurrence of prostate disease in cats, very little is known about treatment. Surgery has been used in a few rare cases. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be useful, but its effectiveness is unknown. Long term anti-inflammatory medications used in dogs are not recommended for use in cats due to the risk of sudden onset of kidney failure and death. Supportive care to alleviate urinary or fecal straining may be of use. Surgery to remove part of the urethra or to redirect the urine flow may be used, but are not without complications.

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