Mastitis in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Mastitis is an uncommon ailment, particularly in cats, but it can cause a number of problems, including tissue destruction. When you observe changes in your cat, you can take preventive measures if you are aware of the reasons, symptoms, and treatment options. Find out more about cat mastitis, including the thoughts of a veterinarian who treats just felines!

What Causes Mastitis in Cats?

When germs infiltrate the mammary tissue, cats get mastitis. This might happen following localised trauma. But it could happen if the body has another illness that has spread to the mammary glands. Another factor contributing to the development of mastitis in cats is living in an unhygienic environment. It usually manifests in female cats, particularly during the lactation stage.

Mastitis is not a common issue in cats, but providing the queen with enough room to nurse and keeping the bedding clean and dry will help to prevent infection, according to Dr Wallace, a veterinarian who treats exclusively cats at Cosy Cat Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, who spoke with A-Z-Animals.

Cats can get one of two main forms of mastitis. There are two possible conditions: septic and non-septic. When a breast infection is septic, it indicates that a particular kind of bacteria—either streptococci, staphylococci, or E. coli—caused it. This is usually caused by dirty surroundings and inadequate hygiene.

Non-septic mastitis is the second kind that affects cats. This is the condition in which the mammary gland becomes inflamed without an infection. Usually, an injury or a build-up of milk in the cat’s glands causes this. This typically occurs during a female cat’s weaning process. Whether a cat’s ailment is septic or not, the symptoms they encounter may be identical. However, receiving the right treatment requires a proper diagnosis.

Symptoms of Mastitis in Cats Breast Changes

Breast alterations can take many different forms. Occasionally, the hue shifts to a reddish-purple hue that is practically black. Additionally, the breast region may feel differently to the touch—it may feel hot at times or firm and puffy at others. Scratches and open sores could also be visible.


Your cat is suffering from a painful condition, whether it is caused by inflammation or an infection. Cats experience pain differently and may attempt to conceal their agony. A deviation from normal behaviour may be a sign that your cat has mastitis and is in pain.

Tainted Milk

A female cat’s breast milk may vary when she has mastitis while she is nursing. The milk can be somewhat hazy and thicker than usual. It might also contain blood or pus.


Even though this symptom can be difficult to identify, if you know your cat well, you’ll be able to recognise when they’re acting strangely. A melancholy cat could withdraw and hide, shy away from fun, and even have changes in appetite. When a cat who is usually eager for dinner suddenly lets the wet food or kibbles sit, it could be a sign of depression caused by mastitis.


Fever in cats with mastitis may potentially result from an infection. This is your cat’s body’s natural defence mechanism against the virus. Fever might not show up as a symptom, though, if your cat has non-septic mastitis.

Kitten Neglect

If a nursing mother cat develops mastitis, she may begin to ignore her kittens. Usually, the illness has worsened by now and needs to be treated by a veterinarian right away. You have to make sure the kittens have access to kitten milk in the event that their mother cat is unable to provide for them adequately so they can keep receiving the nourishment they require.


You might also observe vomiting if your cat has mastitis. Although vomiting can sometimes be caused by unrelated factors, if you think your cat may have mastitis, check her breasts for any obvious changes.


A nursing cat will naturally lose a lot of energy during nursing, so you may anticipate her becoming exhausted right away. However, lethargy can also be a symptom of mastitis. If you are familiar with her typical temperament, you will probably see this continuing.

Potential Mastitis Complications

Mastitis usually has a positive prognosis. Your cat should feel better in two to three weeks after receiving treatment. Complications could arise, though, in some situations. Infections can become rather serious if your cat has septic mastitis. In addition to dehydration, your cat may exhibit a number of other symptoms when this happens. IV infusions can assist if your cat is dehydrated.

If the infection is severe, your cat can possibly go into shock. Your veterinarian may need to have a small operation to drain the abscess and completely clean the area if bacteria is present. Tissue death is an additional problem that needs veterinarian attention. Should a problem arise, your cat might have to stay in the hospital for round-the-clock care until they are well enough to go back home.

For your feline buddies, pet insurance is always a good idea because these veterinary bills can add up quickly. You can feel secure knowing that you won’t have to second-guess whether to treat your cat’s mastitis—or any other ailment, provided it isn’t pre-existing—if you have an insurance policy.

How Is Mastitis in Cats Diagnosed?

It’s usually evident to your veterinarian when a cat exhibits symptoms of mastitis. Nevertheless, your veterinarian will proceed to evaluate your cat’s medical history and inquire about any symptoms you have observed. They’ll conduct a physical examination as well. Occasionally, this entails removing a sample of milk from your cat’s nipple for additional examination in order to spot any infection symptoms.

Even while a physical examination suffices for the majority of diagnoses, your veterinarian might still wish to do a few further tests to be safe. A blood test, for instance, can tell your veterinarian if your pet has an infection, which would indicate a septic condition. A bacterial culture test could be performed by your veterinarian to determine the precise strain of bacteria.

Treatment for Mastitis in Cats

Your veterinarian will begin treating your pet with antibiotics to combat the infection if they have septic mastitis, which is a bacterial infection. In addition, for your cat’s comfort, your veterinarian might provide painkillers. Your veterinarian will be careful to prescribe just specific antibiotics and steer clear of others if your cat is still nursing because the medicine could be transferred to the kittens through the milk.

Usually, your veterinarian won’t recommend treatment if your cat doesn’t have septic mastitis. Whether the mastitis is septic or non-septic, there are steps you may take to assist your cat at home. For instance, to help reduce pain and encourage the mammary gland to drain, your veterinarian could advise applying a warm compress to the affected area several times a day.

You can help ease a kitten’s discomfort by encouraging it to breastfeed if it is still doing so. If the kittens have already been weaned, though, you might have to intervene and use your hands to remove some of the milk. Proceed with caution before doing this. You might try applying a cool cabbage leaf compress in addition to a heated compress to ease pain. However, make sure to speak with your veterinarian first before administering any at-home care.