Cornelius came into my life when he was 5 months old. He was living with a family who discovered their daughter developed cat allergies and needed to re-home him immediately. I took him to the vet for a check-up and to schedule his neutering the first week I had him. The vet examined him and quickly discovered that he only had one testicle. The other testicle as she explained was still internal and hadn’t dropped yet. He had a condition called Cryptorchidism.
What is Cryptorchidism?
Cryptorchidism is a genetic defect where one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. In other words a ball hasn’t dropped when it should have.
It happens in both cats and dogs. It is a birth defect that is more often seen in purebreds. Any breed can be affected but it is most often seen in Miniature schnauzer, cocker spaniels, Chihuahuas and Persian cats.
One retained testicle is much more common than both. Animals with this condition should not be bred as it will likely be passed on. An animal with both testicles retained is usually sterile, but will still produce testosterone which will lead to male behaviors such as spraying,mounting, or aggression.
So what do we do I asked?
My vet advised me to wait a couple of months to see if the testicle would drop on its own. She explained that if it dropped they could then perform the neutering as normal. If it didn’t drop the neutering procedure would be a bit more complicated. They would remove the testicle that was exposed as well as use an x-ray to search for the hidden testicle and then make another incision to remove the second testicle.
I was a bit nervous to wait. I was afraid he would begin to mature and start to display male cat behaviors such as spraying or aggression. My vet assured me that we had time. Here in Switzerland Vets will not perform spay or neutering before 6 months of age. So we waited.
When he was about 7.5 months old I didn’t want to wait anymore and I took him in again and said please perform the neutering. I may have been paranoid but I just wanted it done.
So he had the surgery and the Vet said they located the retained testicle and were able to remove all traces of it. I was so relieved! He had an easy recovery. It just looked like he was both spayed and neutered with incision and stitches on his belly as well.
This was the first I had ever heard of this condition. So I asked Anne, a licensed Veterinary Technician with over 25 years of experience and blogger at Whiskers To Paws for her input.
How often do you see this condition?
We see it in cats about once or twice a year. Which fits right in with the 1 -2% overall occurrence.
Are there any possible complications with this condition or surgery?
That all depends where the retained testicle is located. The further up in the abdomen it is the more searching the doctor will most likely have to do, which increases the time the kitty is under surgery and requires a bigger incision.
What happens if the other testicle is not removed?
A retained testicle is more likely to become cancerous or have a torsion which is when the spermatic cord twists and cuts off blood flow to the testicle It is quite painful, plus the testicle will quickly become gangrene as well.
At what age do testicles normally drop?
In cats the testes are usually dropped by the age of 8 weeks.
Is the condition the same or as common in cats and dogs?
Yes dogs do get undescended testicles. Although with dogs we usually wait longer before surgery. This allows the testicle the most chance to drop as far as it will and develop to a bigger size which makes it easier to find.
IS ANY FOLLOW-UP CARE REQUIRED?
If the surgeon (and cat) are lucky and the testicle is right above the scrotal sac in the groin area then the follow care is similar to any routine cat neuter. On the other hand, if an additional incision is required to go into the abdomen to retrieve the testicle then the follow-up care would be the same as a cat spay.
HOW DO YOU TELL WHERE THE TESTICLE IS LOCATED?
The first step is to palpate the groin area, many times the testicle will be located just above the scrotal sac. Some veterinarians may use x-ray or ultrasound to locate the testicle. I personally have never worked with anyone who has done this. If we need to go into the abdomen, the inguinal canal is followed towards the kidney because the testicle is located somewhere along the canal. Bye the way, it is always a happy day in the surgery room when the testicle is found in the groin; no surgeon looks forward to the search for an undescended testicle.
So there you have it. A lot of talk about a missing testicle. Thankfully Cornelius is doing just fine. Have any of your pets ever had this condition? If so please share in the comments.