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Question
my husband found a stray female cat at the store 2 days ago. shes very lovey & she seems to have been domesticated at some point but im not sure if she ran away or was released. shes very terrified of the outside world. everytime we open our front door...she runs & hides. weve also noticed her breasts are enlarged & a little red. her history is unknown but weve gotten real attached to her. shes slowly potty training & shes loves to he close to us. i want to know what could cause her breast to be enlarged & a little red? we would also like to know what we can do to help her.
thank you

Answer
Hi Nativia,

It's difficult to say whether she is lost or abandoned. The best thing to do is leave flyers with area vets stating that you found her, and let animal shelters know, as well. But I would not turn her over to an animal shelter or place an ad in the paper. I have too many negative experiences with shelters, and some people claim found pets they see in the paper for unsavory reasons. There is also a plethora of lost animal databases you could search online. If you do a Google search for "lost and found pets", you'll see some directories that you can search to see if anyone's looking for her.

As for her red, swollen nipples, it sounds likely she recently nursed a litter. Nipples can be slightly enlarged and pink if the cat is in heat, but this typically goes unnoticed. Anything that is discovered usually indicates either late term pregnancy (and she would be round with babies unless the litter were very small) or very recent nursing. It's sad to think that maybe she had some babies nearby that are missing their mom. If you think it's possible, perhaps you or your husband could stop back around the area to see if any little ones are around. If the babies were too small to be on solid food, they wouldn't have survived more than a day. But if they were mostly weaned, and they're outdoors, they may still be finding a way to feed themselves. It's a long shot, but it might be worth looking once or twice.

I don't recommend putting mom back outside to reunite her with the babies. There's no guarantee this will happen, she will go on to have more babies, and all will have a dismal future. At least in your home, the life of one kitty is improved for certain.

Regarding any help she might need for her nipples, this is a normal condition after weaning, and it will pass without intervention. Occasionally, a mammary gland can become infected and is indicated by substantial swelling, purple discoloration, warmth to the touch, or discolored/crusty discharge. This should be treated by a vet.

You should have this kitty checked out by a vet ASAP and given her shots. She should not have a leukemia or FIV shot if she will stay indoors.

Count your blessings she wants to stay indoors. Indoor kitties live 3-4 times longer than indoor/outdoor ones, on average!

Good luck!
Jessica

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Jessica

Expertise

The areas in which I have gained the most experience are cat health and feral cat management/rescue. I provide supportive care to chronically ill cats, hospice care to terminally ill cats and also am involved in trap-neuter-return efforts. My specialities lie in taming feral cats and in the allopathic treatment of cats with illnesses or special needs. I also have owned Siamese, Himalayans, Abyssinians, Russian Blues, Savannahs, Bengals, Peterbalds, Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthairs and am well-versed in cat breeds as well as cat behavior and nutrition.

Experience

I have 15 years of extensive experience with cats ranging from breeding to medical care. My daily routine consists of caring for cats with diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney failure, feline leukemia, feline AIDS as well as feral cats. I have experience with liver patients, heart patients, feline infectious peritonitis, cancer, recovery from amputation and trauma, congenital deformities and most every disease in between. I have assisted cats giving birth and hand-nursed kittens who were neglected by their mother from 2 days old through weaning.

Education/Credentials
15 years' hands-on experience. Current nursing student. I've studied the parallels of human and cat anatomy as well as zoonotic disease, so my studies are broadening the depth of my understanding of feline anatomy, physiology and pathology.

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