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Characterization of the bacterial population of the genital tract of adult cats

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  • 1 Department of Small Animals, National Veterinary Institute, SE-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 2 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7037, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 3 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7037, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 4 Department of Pathology, National Veterinary Institute, SE-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 5 Department of Small Animals, National Veterinary Institute, SE-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.
  • | 6 Department of Bacteriology, National Veterinary Institute, SE-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize the bacteria of the genital tract in adult cats; assess the effect of estrus, mating, and administration of progestins on those microorganisms in females; and evaluate whether results of bacteriologic culture of vaginal swabs are affected by cleansing of the vulva prior to sampling or by repeated sampling.

Animals—66 female and 29 male cats undergoing routine ovariohysterectomy or castration.

Procedure—Specimens were obtained from vaginal and uterine or preputial mucosae with swabs moistened with sterile saline (0.9% NaCl) solution. In 9 cats, vaginal specimens were obtained before and after cleansing of the vulva with ethanol; in 7 female cats, 2 vaginal specimens were obtained in immediate succession.

Results—Aerobic bacteria were most commonly isolated from cats' vaginas and prepuces; anaerobic bacteria were isolated frequently from males (41%) but rarely from females (5%). Generally, culture results were not affected by cleansing of the vulva or repeated vaginal sampling. The bacterial population of the vaginas of cats was influenced by stage of the estrous cycle but not by mating or administration of progestins. Bacteria were not isolated from the uterus of any cat.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In cats, bacteria of the genital tract in females are predominantly aerobic; in males, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are found. The bacterial population of the vagina is affected by stage of the estrous cycle. Pure growth of bacteria in culture of genital tract specimens is a normal finding; antimicrobials should only be administered if clinical signs of genital infection are present. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:963–968)

Abstract

Objective—To characterize the bacteria of the genital tract in adult cats; assess the effect of estrus, mating, and administration of progestins on those microorganisms in females; and evaluate whether results of bacteriologic culture of vaginal swabs are affected by cleansing of the vulva prior to sampling or by repeated sampling.

Animals—66 female and 29 male cats undergoing routine ovariohysterectomy or castration.

Procedure—Specimens were obtained from vaginal and uterine or preputial mucosae with swabs moistened with sterile saline (0.9% NaCl) solution. In 9 cats, vaginal specimens were obtained before and after cleansing of the vulva with ethanol; in 7 female cats, 2 vaginal specimens were obtained in immediate succession.

Results—Aerobic bacteria were most commonly isolated from cats' vaginas and prepuces; anaerobic bacteria were isolated frequently from males (41%) but rarely from females (5%). Generally, culture results were not affected by cleansing of the vulva or repeated vaginal sampling. The bacterial population of the vaginas of cats was influenced by stage of the estrous cycle but not by mating or administration of progestins. Bacteria were not isolated from the uterus of any cat.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In cats, bacteria of the genital tract in females are predominantly aerobic; in males, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are found. The bacterial population of the vagina is affected by stage of the estrous cycle. Pure growth of bacteria in culture of genital tract specimens is a normal finding; antimicrobials should only be administered if clinical signs of genital infection are present. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:963–968)