Jerry and his sister Petunia were found as older kittens, living under their owner's deck. Their owner (Mr. L) brought Jerry and Petunia to a vet. The veterinarian who examined them reported that Jerry was neutered and Petunia was likely spayed. Over the following year, both cats were seen at several different veterinary hospitals for various problems, including inappropriate urination and urinary infections.
When they were initially found and examined, shaved areas or scars from recent neutering surgeries should have been noted. If they had been neutered by a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) rescue group, they should have had tipped ears and tattoos. As a precaution, I reviewed common signs of heat cycles in female cats (excessive vocalizing & meowing, excessive rubbing on people's legs & attention seeking behavior and excessive lordosis (posturing with arched back- front end down, rear-end up in the air.)
A few weeks later, Mr. L brought in another urine sample from Jerry. Although it was still very foul smelling, it showed minimal signs of infection. I told Mr. L that Jerry's urine smelled like a tom-cat's (a not-neutered male cat.) I prescribed another course of antibiotics, but recommended that we recheck Jerry, if urinary problems continued.
Within a few weeks, Mr. L called because Petunia was now showing signs of being in heat. I recommended that we re-examine Jerry. Like his previous veterinarians, I did not palpate or feel any testicles when I initially examined him. But odds were that if Petunia wasn't really spayed, then maybe Jerry wasn't really castrated. Maybe something else was going on.
When Jerry was brought back to Barnside, he looked dramatically different than he did just 2 months earlier: He now was very lean and muscular and was developing a broad, "jowly" face. Testosterone can cause some of these physical changes. Fortunately, Jerry was very cooperative and allowed us to thoroughly examine his penis. His penis had "barbs" on it! These barbs form in response to testosterone.
It was decided that Jerry was likely cryptorchid. His testicles had not descended. Although this condition is not unusual in dogs, it is seen much less frequently in cats. Jerry was scheduled for surgery. One of his testicles was found in his abdomen. The other testicle had made its way out of the abdomen, but on its journey to the scrotum, became "stuck" in the groin. (See photos in Barnside's blog post, "2/07/16- Love is in the Air, Part 2.")
Petunia will be spayed soon. This will prevent accidental pregnancy (should she sneak outdoors) and uterus infection (pyometra) but unfortunately, we'll always have to monitor her for breast cancer. Hormones during heat cycles increase future risks of breast cancer.
Once Jerry was neutered, his penis retuned to a non-barbed appearance, he stopped spraying and marking his territory and his "cattitude" improved dramatically. Mystery solved!
---Meredith L. Weltner-Sharin VMD