Objectives: To review aetiology, clinical signs and outcome of cats surgically treated for septic peritonitis (2000-2007).
Methods: A retrospective study. Inclusion criteria were the identification of intracellular bacteria and degenerate neutrophils and/or a positive culture from abdominal fluid and exploratory coeliotomy. Aetiology, clinical signs, haematological and biochemical parameters, surgical treatment and outcome were recorded and analysed.
Results: Twenty-six cats fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Abdominal pain was reported in 10 (38 per cent) and vomiting was reported in 11 (42 per cent) of the cats. The most common aetiology was trauma (31 per cent). The principal source of contamination was the gastrointestinal tract. Hyperlactataemia, hypoproteinaemia and hyperglycaemia were reported in 9, 13 and 14 of the 26 cases, respectively. Non-survivors had significantly higher blood lactate concentrations than survivors (P=0·02). Nineteen cats were managed with primary closure, two with closed suction drains and three with open peritoneal drainage. Twelve (46 per cent) cats survived to discharge.
Clinical Significance: In cats, lethargy, depression and anorexia were more common clinical signs than abdominal pain. Lactate level at the time of diagnosis may be a useful prognostic indicator in cats. The proportion of cats that survived was lower than previously reported and owners should be given a guarded prognosis.