February marks Spay & Neuter Awareness Month, an international event that encourages pet owners to get their pets neutered. Leading vet charity PDSA is using the occasion to share one-year-old Olive’s story and remind cat owners the importance of neutering their feline friends.  

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, explains: “For females, spaying involves removing the cat’s ovaries and often their uterus (womb). Doing so not only stops unwanted pregnancies, it also prevents or reduces the risk of several life-threatening illnesses, including cancer of the womb and ovaries, as well as pyometra, a very serious and potentially fatal womb infection.” 

Olive’s story 

One-year-old cat Olive was rushed into her local PDSA Pet Hospital for emergency surgery after her owner noticed worrying symptoms. 

Marie, (35), explained: “Olive is usually a quirky little cat with a big personality. If she’s not snuggling up to us, she’s running around doing “zoomies”. So when she became unsettled, we knew something wasn’t right. 

“My 10-year-old daughter, Tiffany-Rose, adores Olive - they’re very close. But whilst she was giving her usual fuss, she noticed that Olive wasn’t acting her normal self and wondered if something might be wrong. When Tiffany-Rose told me I went to check on her, and that’s when I saw discharge coming from her back end, which concerned me. 

“I quickly rang the team at my local PDSA Pet Hospital. When I explained her symptoms they asked me to bring her in straight away.” 

When the vet examined Olive, they were concerned about her symptoms, so she was admitted for further tests. PDSA Head Nurse, Kay Brough, explained: “When Olive arrived, she seemed okay in herself, however discharge from the vulva area can be a tell-tale sign of a uterus infection. We admitted her for an ultrasound scan to have a look at her womb. 

“The scan confirmed the diagnosis of pyometra so we put her on a fluid drip, prescribed some antibiotics and gave her some pain relief to keep her comfortable whilst we prepared for surgery.  

“Pyometra, sometimes known as “pyo”, is an infection inside the uterus (womb) that frequently leads to sepsis if not treated promptly. Any unneutered female cat or dog is at risk of developing a pyometra. Symptoms can include discharge like Olive experienced, bloating of the abdomen, drinking more and peeing more, and a change in their energy levels.” 

Surgery to remove her infected womb took place and she was given time to recover before Marie was contacted to come and collect her. 

Marie said: “It was scary how quickly it all happened, and had it not been for my daughter recognising Olive wasn’t her usual self, I’m not sure what position we would have been in now. Ultimately, PDSA saved her life. 

“Thankfully, Olive was able to come home that night. The vet told me that the surgery was successful with no complications, and she should recover well at home with us. After two visits to check she was healing, we were given the all clear and she’s now back to her normal nosey and affectionate self.”