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Key takeaways

Genital discharge in cats is an uncommon presentation with a variety of underlying causes.

  • Discharge is visible from either the vulva or foreskin (prepuce) and may be clear, white, yellow, or bloody
  • Underlying causes include stones (uroliths), urinary tract infections (UTIs), or tumors
  • Genital discharge in female cats is usually linked to the reproductive system including inflammation or infection of the vagina or uterus, or after giving birth
  • Male cats develop discharge as a result of inflammation or infection of the penis or prostate gland
  • Investigation involves physical examination, laboratory testing such as blood work, urine testing, and bacterial culture, and diagnostic imaging including ultrasound and X-rays
  • Treatment options depend on the underlying cause but often include antibiotics, pain relief, and anti-inflammatories
  • Prognosis varies between cases. Some types of bladder inflammation are self limiting while others may be severe or recurrent and require medication
  • Simple infections generally resolve with antibiotics but pyometra is a serious uterine infection that can be fatal without surgical treatment
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A closer look: Genital Discharge in Cats

Genital discharge is a relatively uncommon condition in cats. Most cases require treatment, but are usually mild and respond to treatment.

Cystitis and other types of feline lower urinary tract disease are often recurrent if the underlying cause is not addressed. Male cats sometimes develop a blocked urethra secondary to cystitis which is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary care. Female cats that develop pyometra following a heat cycle require urgent veterinary attention. Any cat who is unable to urinate at all requires immediate veterinary attention.

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Possible causes

Genital discharge has a range of underlying causes which are categorized according to the body system involved.

Urinary tract disorders occur in both sexes and describe conditions relating to the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Genital tract disease is a cause of discharge in male and female cats.

Risk factors

Genital discharge varies by severity and type of discharge.

Discharge may be thick and yellow in the case of pus, or bloody in cases of excessive straining or injury. Lochia describes discharge from the vulva seen after giving birth, it may be bloody, brown, or green.

Severity varies. Cats tend to be fastidious groomers and many cats lick mild genital discharge away before it accumulates. Moderate discharge is more common with infections such as pyelonephritis, cystitis, or pyometra. Lochia is often associated with heavy discharge but in most cases is expected to resolve on its own.

Testing and diagnosis

Investigation of genital discharge involves:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood work
  • Urine testing
  • Microscopic examination of vaginal cells
  • Bacterial culture
  • Bladder biopsy
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound

Treatment options depend on the underlying disease process but involve:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti Inflammatory medication
  • Feeding a specific diet for urinary health
  • Behavioral or environmental modification to reduce stress -Surgery

Similar symptoms

Genital discharge is occasionally mistaken for discharge from other areas such as the anus or anal glands

Associated symptoms

Cats are usually fastidious animals and dislike genital discharge. The main symptom seen alongside genital discharge is excessive licking or cleaning of the penis or vulva. Other symptoms depend on the underlying body system.


Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH; Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM - Writing for VCA Animal Hospitals
Audrey K Cook BVM&S MSc VetEd MRCVS DipACVIM DipECVIM DipABVP(Feline Practice); Susan Rackard MVB PhD MRCVS - Writing for Vetlexicon
Melissa Wallace DVM DipACVIM; Penny Watson MA VetMB CertVR DSAM DipECVIM-ca VetMD FRCVS; Julien Bazelle DVM DipECVIM-CA MRCVS - Writing for Vetlexicon
Autumn P. Davidson , DVM, MS, DACVIM - Writing for MSD Veterinary Manual
PetMD Editorial - Writing for PetMD

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