My heart is sick at the loss. I suspect she was worse off because she was so tiny and thin; only 4.1 pounds. The estimate of cost for surgery, spay, x-rays, anti-biotics, iv fluids, medicine to make her sleep thru, and what ever else was over $1200.00 and I’m on disability.
I intended to spay her, but neutering was a better idea for my new male rescue, I had a rough year financially; am on disability; but was trying to save for the neuter. I understand if an unneutered male is nearby, the female cat can spontaneously enter her heat frequently and while open to receive the male, bacteria can enter the uterus, and cause a bacterial infection. My Murphy-Linn, was frail, thin, and bleeding; and was in discomfort; they could not guarantee she would survive the surgery, one I could not hope to afford; and I would not let her suffer; so I had to put her down; I am miserable; I miss my girl.
I am very sorry to hear your sad story and to learn of your loss. Your story brings up another way that pet owners can save money and avoid misery in the long run. Spayed and neutered animals have fewer medical problems than their unaltered counterparts.
Pyometra is an infection of the uterus. It often is fatal. It occurs most frequently just after a heat cycle. During heat, the cervix opens so that sperm can go through. However, as Bubba-Lee pointed out, bacteria also can get through at this time. Unspayed female cats and dogs should be expected to go into heat regardless of whether a male is around.
Infected uteruses fill with pus, and can spread infection into the abdomen or through the bloodstream (in a process known as sepsis). Treatment for pyometra is not guaranteed to succeed. The treatment that is most likely to succeed is immediate surgical removal of the infected uterus. Pyometra surgeries are much more expensive than routine spays. They also are much riskier.
Spaying prevents pyometra in two ways. During a spay most of the uterus is removed. This leaves only a small remnant that could become infected. More important, the ovaries are removed during spays. This prevents the hormone surges that cause the cervix to open to allow sperm (and bacteria) into the uterus. The cervix remains tightly shut in spayed females, so infections in the small remnant of the uterus are not common.
Don’t forget that spaying eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancies. It also essentially eliminates the risk of injury during intercourse (which is not insignificant). It also virtually eliminates the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Male dogs and cats are less likely to fight if they are neutered. And neutered males of both species are much less likely to escape the house in search of trysts.
Free or ultra-low-cost spaying and neutering are offered by many shelters, SPCAs, and veterinary charities. These surgeries are very good ways to save money in the long run.