Vaginal Foxtail Awns cause Infection & Misery

Question:
My cat Mystic is a 3 year old spayed female. She scoots on our carpet and leaves a streak. Our veterinarian said that she was too fat to clean herself. Her anal glands were not a problem. She said that Mystic had a vaginal infection and the streak was not poop but vaginal discharge. She gave her a shot of antibiotics and a steroid injection. That was a month ago and Mystic still has the discharge that looks like dried blood. Her bottom looks swollen. Should I try another veterinarian?

Dr. Nichol:
Miserable enough to drag her rear end and passing so much discharge that she leaves skid marks tells me that Mystic has a serious problem.

It’s easy to trivialize obesity in pets. Cats who are so rotund that they struggle to function normally are not cute. With their diminished quality of life they face a myriad of preventable disorders. Physically unable to care for her own hygiene Mystic is suffering skin disorders in her anal and genital areas. Unnatural skin folds may be cultivating a smoldering infection.

To enable a stress-free evaluation Mystic’s doctor can sedate her and take a sample of her discharge for special staining and a microscopic exam. A bacterial culture would identify the organisms involved and help determine the best antibiotic for the problem. The inflamed area can then be clipped, scrubbed, irrigated, and treated with topical antibiotic medication.

Mystic’s skin infection may actually be secondary to a deeper problem. While she’s comfortably tranquilized a small scope can be passed into her vaginal tract to look for foreign material like a foxtail (wild grass) awn that may have worked its way into this sensitive place. Foxtails in the bodily orifices of pets are not rare in the Southwest. They can migrate anywhere in the body. Even a cat of normal weight would be unable to manage this on her own. Scooting is a common symptom of genital foreign bodies.

Mystic’s struggles are a serious priority. If your veterinarian has reached the limits of her training and equipment, she can refer your girl to a veterinary dermatology specialist. Be optimistic; the right treatment along with a safe weight reduction diet, will give Mystic her life back.