Your vet might have just ruined your day by telling you your puppy or kitten is cryptorchid. Long word for something that basically didn’t happen!
As a puppy or kitten (the boy version) grows, the testicles start out in the abdomen, and slowly descend into the scrotum (the sac of skin that covers them). They are very easily felt in the scrotum, so we vets can know right away if both are in fact there, in the correct place. Fortunately, most are!
Some puppies and kittens may have one or both testicles get hung up along the way. The term “retained testicles” or “cryptorchid” are how we describe them in the medical record. There is a genetic component to this, as it does run in certain families, and is more prevalent among small and toy breed dogs. Boy dogs and cats with one or both testicles not in the correct locale can still physically breed and produce offspring, but they shouldn’t! Cryptorchidism is a defect, and should not stay in the gene pool.
The best thing to do is neuter these boys, which means having to open up the abdomen and search for the disobedient testicle. Sometimes we get lucky, and it’s migrated down to the inner thigh/groin area, where we can feel it and easily remove it. Other times these testicles are buried in the abdomen, and it can be quite the search! As you would expect, there is often an additional charge for the extra surgery that must be performed, and opening the abdomen comes with more potential complications. It’s very important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on keeping your pet resting or confined during the 10 day recovery period!
Why is it so important to remove these testicles if it’s all this work? Unfortunately, these retained testicles often are abnormal. They are more prone to becoming cancerous later in life. So prompt removal is the best choice! Granted, if your puppy or kitten is still very young, many veterinarians will give it time, just in case that testicle decides to follow the rules, before we attempt the neuter.
The good news: once your pet is neutered, he’ll be no different than every other neutered pet!