Behavior Foster Diary Health

Foster Diary: The Mystery of Sprinkle’s Hormones

woman hugging cat
Snuggles with Sprinkle before her 2nd surgery.

When I picked up Sprinkle, I thought I was just getting a moody cat with a raccoon tail that needed socialization. She had been through a lot over the past few months. Her family was evicted from their home and she was taken to ACCT Philly. At one point, she was lost in the ceiling for an ENTIRE month (she somehow found food and water), only to return to a kennel fighting an upper respiratory infection (URI). Then, she was displaying signs that she was in heat and her hormones were raging. The clincher? An exploratory surgery revealed she was already spayed. So what was her problem? What could cause these symptoms? The answer turned out to be a simple, but not common.

WARNING: There are graphic pics from Sprinkle’s 2nd surgery in this post. Please do not read if you are squeamish.

In Heat

It sounds odd, but I really haven’t been around cats in heat since I was little. The fosters I get are typically all spayed, or have just been spayed. Fortunately, I’d had an unspayed, in-heat Himalayan right before Sprinkle, so I knew the signs:

  • Chirping
  • Back feel flipping
  • Positioning of the butt in the air
  • Rolling around all the time
  • Rubbing against everything
  • Gross liquid stuff back “there”

At first, Sprinkle was just grouchy, but after about a week, I started seeing the above signs. It was clear, this girl was in heat, and her hormones were crazy. But her surgery notes said she was spayed. So what the heck was going on?

Test Hormones

I knew Sprinkle was in heat, but I couldn’t figure out why. A quick Google search answered my question: Ovarian Remnant Syndrome. Sometimes, a small piece of ovarian tissue is left behind from a spay. But what could a small piece of tissue do? Create heat-like symptoms. That seemed like the most likely culprit.

Sprinkle has whiskers for days!

The next step would be to get a blood test to check Sprinikle’s hormones. The results would tell us if there was ovarian tissue remaining. The results came a week later: Positive for ovarian tissue in Sprinkle.

This is more complicated than it seems because the vet who did her first surgery searched for ovarian tissue and didn’t find any. This means the tissue could be literally ANYWHERE in the abdomen – even a layer of fat. We needed to wait for Sprinkle to be at the peak of her heat cycle to perform the surgery. Ovarian tissue is inflamed while a cat is in heat, making it easier to spot.

Surgery Surprise

Once I saw she was trying to get one of my residents to mate with her, I arranged her surgery. Her hormones were undoubtedly at a high level. I was so nervous the day of Sprinkle’s surgery, because I was concerned the rando ovarian tissue would not be located. Fortunately, I knew the vet who was performing the 2nd surgery, Dr. Morgan Shafer, and I was confident in her abilities.

Around 4:30 that day, I received the good news that Sprinkle had surgery and the shocker: She needed to be spayed – but it was more complicated than that.

Sprinkle had a congenial defect with one of her ovaries. An ovary is attached to the cervix with a horn (the long tube the egg passes through). On the left side, Sprinkle had an ovary with a horn. On the right side, Sprinkle had an ovary, but there wasn’t a horn, and the ovary wasn’t attached to the cervix. In place of the horn was a large fluid-filled sac … like REALLY big. Without removal, the sac would have eventually caused an infection in the uterus and it would have been life threatening. Just reason 8,731 to spay your pet.

How Lady Parts Were Missed During 1st Surgery

High cat
Sprinkle high post her 2nd surgery.

The congenial defect contributed to the vet missing the ovaries during surgery the first time. When the spay tool is inserted, it’s pushed to the right side, to grab the horn. Since Sprinkle’s defect was there was no horn on the right side, the tool didn’t grab anything. The left side is the spleen, so the tool must be used with great care on that side, to prevent bleeding. That’s what caused them to be missed.

Good Prognosis

Woman and cat
Sprinkle takes a power nap on me.

It’s possible the sac was causing some cramping and discomfort. I look forward to seeing what Sprinkle’s real, non-hormonal personality is after she fully recovers from surgery. Hormones will go down over the next few weeks.

Sprinkle will make a full recovery, and life a full life. Glad we could help her out and avoid a potentially life-threatening infection. Special thanks to Dr. Shafer for saving Sprinkle!

Check out all of my current fosters here.

By LizsKittyBootCamp

Hi, I'm Liz, and I'm a cat behaviorist who provides advice and insights on cat behavior.

4 replies on “Foster Diary: The Mystery of Sprinkle’s Hormones”

Hi, how has Sprinkles been doing? My mom has a 12 year old female cat, Salem, that has all the signs you listed. Thinking back, some of these signs were evident many years ago. We’ve recently found out about this syndrome and are planning to consult with her vet. One of our primary concerns is Salem’s age. Thanks for sharing your story.

Sprinkles was a foster and was adopted so I don’t know how she is today, but she recovered very well from the spay with no issues. I’m sure your vet will advise if the surgery is safe. As long as she is healthy otherwise, I would think it would be okay, but your vet knows best. Good luck!

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