ISSN 2398-2950      

Prolonged/persistent estrus

ffelis

Introduction

  • An uncommon problem of sexually intact queens that leads to the behavioral problem of persistent or prolonged estrus and is one cause of infertility.
  • It can be caused by:
    • Abnormal estrus behavior despite normal endocrine profile.
    • Short interestrus intervals leading to the perception that queens are constantly in estrus.
    • Follicular ovarian cysts (cystic ovarian degeneration).
    • Functional ovarian neoplasia (eg granulosa cell tumor, luteomas).

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Caused by unusual follicular growth patterns, functional ovarian cysts, functional ovarian tumors or behavioral abnormalities.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Follicular cysts are thought to be more common in older nulliparous queens but may also be the most likely reason for persistent estrus in a younger queen.
  • Abnormal follicular cycles have been said to be more likely in cats with have had long periods of cycling without a break for pregnancy or pseudopregnancy Pseudopregnancy.
  • Tumors are commonest in older queens.

Pathophysiology

  • Summary: Cats with this problem have unusually high and prolonged periods of estrogen production leading to over stimulation of a normal hypothalamus and prolonged or permanent estrus behavior (calling).
  • Pathological: Associated with ovarian pathology (abnormal follicular activity, persistent functional  cysts/follicles or ovarian tumors) causing excessive or prolonged circulating estrogen levels.
  • In behavioral disease the cat will show estrus behavior and may accept mating when analysis of vaginal cytology and serum estrogen and progesterone levels show that she is not in physiological estrus. In these cats the sexual centers of the hypothalamus may be unusually sensitive to estrogen.
  • With abnormal follicular activity there are overlapping waves of follicular activity and high estrogen levels instead of there being the usual intervals of at least 1 week.
  • Follicular cysts cause persistently high levels of estrogen and estrus behavior. Follicular cysts are persistent follicles that failed to ovulate and do not undergo atresia.The cysts consist of a single layer of granulosa cells without a cumulus and with a degenerating oocyte.
  • Ovarian (most commonly granulosa cell) tumors may persistently secrete estrogen. Some are non-secretory. In one study, 4 out of 9 cats with granulosa cell tumor had irregular or prolonged estrus; over half of these tumors were malignant.
  • Persistent estrus behavior causes reduced food intake as the queen has a lower drive to eat. There is also has increased activity levels. These factors can lead to weight loss.

Timecourse

  • Lack of correlation with usual seasonal pattern for feline estrous cycle may prompt presentation to a veterinarian.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • The ovarian remnant syndrome. Davidson A P (2003) In: The 5-Minute Veterinary Consult Textbook, Canine and Feline, 3rd edition. Lippincott Williamson and Wilkins Inc. Philadelphia PA.
  • Feline Husbandry: diseases and Management in the Multiple-Cat Environment. Pedersen N C (1991) American Veterinary Publications, Goleta pp 144.

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