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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Infertility in Cats

By Cheri A. Johnson, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Small Animal), Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University ; James A. Flanders, DVM, DACVS, Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University ; Autumn P. Davidson, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Clinical Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis ; Fabio Del Piero, DVM, DACVP, PhD, Professor, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University ; Mushtaq A. Memon, BVSc, PhD, DACT, Theriogenologist, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Washington State University ; Robert C. Rosenthal, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Small Animal, Oncology), DACVR (Radiation Oncology) ; Brad E. Seguin, DVM, MS, PhD DACT, Professor Emeritus, Department of Clinical and Population Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota

Also see professional content regarding infertility in small animals.

Proper ovulation in females and ejaculation of fertile and normal sperm by males are regulated through a sequence of events in the brain, nervous system, and sexual organs. For optimal results, ovulation and deposition of semen into the female genital tract must be closely synchronized. Failure of any step in either sex leads to infertility or sterility. The ultimate result of infertility is the failure to produce offspring. In females, infertility may be due to the absence of the estrous cycle, abnormal ovulation, failure to conceive, or prenatal death. Major infertility problems in males are caused by disturbances in the production, transport, or storage of sperm; loss of libido; and partial or complete inability to mate or to stimulate ovulation in the female. Most major infertility problems are complex; several factors, singly or in combination, can cause failure to produce offspring.

Your veterinarian will establish whether it is the female or male that is infertile based on diagnostic tests such as semen evaluation, ultrasonography, or laboratory tests. In some cases both animals may contribute to infertility. Infertility is seldom accompanied by obvious signs of illness or infection. Lower fertility may be hereditary and your veterinarian will consider this issue when dealing with fertility problems.

Infertility can be treated by administration of hormones that act directly on the ovaries or regulate their functions, or act to help maintain pregnancy. Hormonal treatment can also work on male cats with low sperm counts or poor libido. On the other hand, hormonal treatment can also be used to prevent pregnancy after an undesired mating.

Antibiotics are used for treatment of infection of the reproductive tracts. The selection of the antibiotic is based on tests that determine the nature of the bacteria or infectious agent.

In some circumstances, unsatisfactory results with antibiotics and increased concerns about bacteria that develop resistance to a particular antibiotic have led veterinarians to use treatments other than antibiotics for infections of the reproductive tract. These drugs boost local immune defenses and can be used alone or in combination with antibiotics.