Understanding Why Surgery Has Been Recommended For Your Cat
At Noah's Ark Veterinary Hospital, our primary concern is for the health and well being of your cat. Unfortunately, there may arise a circumstance when a surgical procedure is in the best interest of your feline friend, and in these times you will need to make that decision. We understand what that feels like, and our veterinarians and staff are here for you too.
If surgery is being recommended, our veterinarian will have sound medical reasoning, and it is important that you understand what surgical procedure is being recommended and why, how the procedure will be performed, and when it should take place.
There are two categories of cat surgeries, elective and urgent/emergency.
Elective cat surgeries include:
Urgent cat surgeries include:
- Skin lacerations or abscess
- Intestinal obstruction from a foreign body
- Skin cancers
- Fracture repair
Most Modern Cat Surgeries Are Fairly Low Risk
Elective surgeries are performed when your cat is generally considered healthy, thus greatly reducing possible complications. Today, however, even urgent cat surgeries carry significantly lower risks due to improvements in modern medicine and vast improvements in the standards of veterinary care. This includes an extensive list of pre-surgical procedures such as exams, premedication, introduction of fluids, pain control and monitoring of vital signs; as well as improved protocols during surgery including high-level monitoring equipment of vital signs such as body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, ECG, CO2 levels, and oxygen levels. Moreover, a knowledgeable anesthesiologist all serve to reduce the risks associated with cat surgeries.
We Follow The Highest Standards Of Veterinary Care
At Noah's Ark Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to the highest standards of excellence in veterinary medicine. This commitment to excellent care is why we are an American Animal Hospital Association Accredited veterinary clinic. This accreditation is awarded to only the top 12% of veterinary hospitals in the nation. Surgical protocols at AAHA-accredited clinics include:
- Pre-surgical assessments. Prior to surgery, the veterinary team verifies the specifics of the procedure; completes a physical exam of the patient; and ensures blood tests have been completed, documented, and reviewed by the veterinarian. Among other things, these precautions help determine if your pet is at risk for complications while under general anesthesia.
- Dedicated surgical suites. To prevent post-surgical infections and cross-contamination, surgeries are performed in a room used only for sterile surgical procedures.
- Surgical attire. Staff must wear disposable caps and masks when entering the surgical suite. Anyone involved in the procedure itself must also wear sterile gowns and single-use gloves.
- Sterile packs and equipment. Surgical instruments are carefully cleaned, sterilized, and wrapped prior to each procedure to help prevent infections.
Making The Decision To Proceed With Cat Surgery
The decision to do surgery involves a discussion with the owner about possible complications and all factors to be considered when deciding what is best for your cat. Factors to think about when considering cat surgery include:
- Age and general health of the cat
- Potential complications from the surgery
- Potential outcome if surgery is not done
- Recovery time and post-op care required by the owner
While the decision to have your cat undergo surgery is completely in your hands, our veterinarians will do their best to make sure your feel supported with information to make the best decision. We are here to help you make an informed and compassionate decision that is in the best interest of your cat.
Cat Pre-Surgical Instructions
Cat pre-surgical instructions vary depending on the type of procedure being performed, and whether or not the cat surgery is emergency or planned. However, we will provide you with a set of cat pre-surgical instructions that can be used as a general guideline for preoperative preparations:
- We recommend that you fast your cat the night before surgery but allow them to drink water through the night. Generally, this involves simply picking up your cat's food but allowing them access to water til you depart for the veterinary hospital.
- Be on time for your feline surgery, there is an important pre-surgical process that requires your cat to be in the hospital when scheduled.
- Listen carefully to post-surgical instructions from your veterinary care team and call the hospital if you have any questions regarding the post-op care for your cat.
Safe cat anesthesia requires that close attention be paid to the patient before, during, and after the anesthetic is administered. At Noah's Ark Veterinary Hospital, we treat every cat according to its specific medical and surgical needs. Each anesthesia is tailored to each patient. We adhere to very stringent guidelines for administering cat anesthesia before, during and if necessary, after surgery. These guidelines come from the American Animal Hospital Association, a veterinary organization that only accredits approximately 12% of all veterinary practices nationwide. For example, the AAHA guidelines require that we first do blood work, and then depending upon your cat's overall health, other tests to ensure there is not an overt risk of complications from receiving anesthesia.
Cat anesthesia is extremely safe when the patients are stabilized before the procedure and all effort is made to have a good understanding of the cat's medical condition before surgery. There is always some risk to anesthesia, however, the risk is extremely low when being performed by a highly qualified veterinarian and surgical team.
Recovery from surgery depends upon the length of the surgery, the age of the cat and the amount of pain medication required to keep your cat free from any post-operative pain. Some things to be aware of post anesthesia include:
- It is normal for your cat to be groggy or disoriented for a few hours after receiving a general anesthetic
- Your cat might sleep deeper or longer for 48-72 hours after receiving cat anesthesia
- Your cat might be a duller version of itself for 48-72 hours after anesthesia due to the sedating effects of anesthesia
- Review with your veterinarian any feeding and/or comfort tips they can provide depending on what kind of anesthetic was used, and what surgical procedure was performed.
Always remember to call us if you have any questions about your cat's recovery.
Post Surgical Care For Cats
We will tailor all post-surgical instructions for your cat depending upon the procedure and your cat's needs. However, we will provide you with a set of cat surgery recovery instructions that can be used as a general guideline for postoperative care:
- Pick up time appointment to review the procedure and post-surgical care needs
- For routine procedures, most cats can go home a few hours after waking up from anesthesia
- For advanced or emergency procedures, extended stays of 24 hours or longer may be necessary in order to monitor vital signs and deliver critical care
- Make sure you have a good understanding of post-surgical instructions. Remember, all questions are good. Some things to review at pick up time include:
- The administering of medication, food, and water
- The changing of bandages, care of stitches, etc.
- Assisted care tips
- Follow up appointment scheduling
- At home, allow your cat to recover in a warm, quiet space of its choosing (if possible) to increase comfort and reduce stress
- For the first 24 hours, monitor your cat closely as it recovers. Always call if you have any concerns
- Keep your cat indoors for at least 24 hours to supervise
- Suture care (stitches): Most surgeries will require some sutures. Your veterinary staff will review the after-care which will include keeping the cats from licking the incision.
- Some cats will be sent home with an Elizabethan Collar to ensure they do not lick or bite out the sutures
- Monitor the incision for possible signs of infection which will include redness, swelling, or oozing
- Continue to follow your cat's recovery program until told to alter or discontinue it by your veterinarian
If you need to discuss surgical options or schedule surgery for your cat, reach out to us today. Our veterinary staff is highly experienced and are caring cat people who are happy to help ease the stress and fear associated with cat surgery for you and your feline friend.