Cat Surgery - What Cat Parents Need to Know About Surgery

When are cat surgeries considered elective, non-elective, or emergency?

Elective procedures are when they don't have to be done. It might be more of a cosmetic procedure, or elective could be considered even spaying and neutering. An emergency surgery would be when something needs to be done right now. And that would be because the cat's life might be in danger, or the cat was too sick to wait a day or two. And the non-elective would be something that might be medically necessary but doesn't have to be done right now. So you could put that off for your cat for a day or a week.

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

What are the most common cat surgeries?

Common cat surgeries that we do at the Animal Hospital of Statesville are spays. We do a lot of spaying and neutering of cats. Mass or tumor removals are also common. One that is not necessarily surgery, but involves anesthesia, would be dentals. And we do a lot of dental procedures because cats can have significant dental disease. There is also bladder stone removal and foreign body removal, which is where they eat things they shouldn't. Outdoor kitties also get into fights with other cats so that they might need surgery for a wound or an abscess.

Will cats need lab work before their surgery?

It depends on the procedure, but we recommend lab work that allows us to know what's going on with their organs and make sure that anesthesia will be safe for them.

What will you as a veterinarian be looking for in the pre-surgery lab work?

Some of the things that we look for might be a kidney screen. We want to make sure their kidneys can handle and function with the anesthesia. We might be looking at their red cell count for anemia, which would be a low red cell count if they were sick. And then there are other organ values that we look at. We might also be checking their clot time to make sure that they can appropriately clot their blood. So if they're having surgery, they don't risk bleeding out.

What do I need to know before my cat has surgery?

Of course, you would want to know when to bring your cat in for surgery— what time do I show up? And whether the cat might need to be fasted or not. Finally, you would want to know the recovery time.

Who will be monitoring my cat while he's under anesthesia?

We have a trained veterinary staff member who is an actual person with your pet during anesthesia. Your veterinarian or I will also be monitoring secondarily while we're doing the procedure. And then, of course, we have many monitors that your cat would be connected to to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, EKG, and let us know or alert us if there were a problem.

How long is recovery after a cat surgery?

That would depend on the type of surgery. But in general, we might say two weeks would be an appropriate recovery time for most of our cat surgeries.

What can I do at home to help my cat recover?

You can provide a low-stress environment. So if you have other pets in the household, you might want to seclude the cat that had surgery or confine them so that they do not have to interact with other pets. That might stress them out a bit. And keep them indoors. If they're outside cats, you still want to keep them indoors for several days after to heal.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 872-3625, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Cat Surgery - FAQs

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

What questions should I ask my veterinarian about my cat surgery?

Depending on the type of surgery, some of the fundamental questions would be about recovery time, what to expect when you take your pet home, and how to best care for your cat. And you may also want to ask how to get your cat ready for the surgery that's coming up.

Will my cat go under anesthesia during surgery?

There would be some type of anesthesia for surgical procedures, whether injectable or inhalant anesthesia, because we wouldn't want them to feel the pain of that procedure.

Will my cat be intubated for surgery?

If it's general anesthesia, they will be intubated, and then they will be maintained on gas. Again, depending on the type of procedure, intubation allows us to control and protect the airway.

How will my veterinarian communicate with me after my cat surgery?

We do a combination, usually, of talking to you whenever you pick up your cat. But, we also try to have everything written down that we'd print out for you because we know that when you're there to pick up your pet, you may be very anxious, and even if you aren't, you may only hear half the things we say. And so, we write those down for you as well.

Will my cat be in pain after the surgery?

We are very aggressive with our pain control at the Animal Hospital of Statesville. And so, we do what's called multimodal pain control, which involves different ways to control pain. That may be medication that we give while they're at the hospital, like a K-laser type of additional pain management. And then we will usually send home pain medication as well.

What can I do at home to get my cat ready for surgery?

Getting them ready for surgery might involve simply withholding food before the day of the procedure. Other things would be getting them prepared by not letting them be stressed or upset. You can also train them to be in the carrier before bringing them in. That makes that event a little less stressful. And then, you want to prepare the home ahead of time for when they're going to come home and where you're going to keep them. For example, are you going to keep them in a particular room? And what's that going to look like?

Does my cat need to be fasted for surgery?

I'd say, most times, they do. And they will give you specific instructions on that. So water is usually fine, but food is not.

How soon can my cat come home after surgery?

That depends on the type and length of surgery. At the Animal Hospital of Statesville, we try to get them back home with you the same day. And most of our surgery patients go home the afternoon of the procedure.

What do I need to know about taking care of my cat after surgery?

We give you proper instructions on how to give medications. Giving cats medications is not the easiest thing to do. Some of those can even be rubbed on the skin, on the inner part of the ear. Other things that you would want to know would be that cats sometimes go home still a little sleepy or sedated. And so you want to protect them from certain areas of your home. So, for example, if you have stairs, if they like to get up on and perch on certain furniture, you may want to keep them in a smaller area so that they can't because they still may feel a little drunk. And you want to keep an eye on that surgical site, too, just for any kind of signs of infection, redness, irritation, or leaking.

Will my cat need post-surgery pain medication?

Cats will almost always need post-surgery pain medication. If we may have given that during the procedure, that would last them for the next 24 to 48 hours afterward, or we may send additional medicine home that you would give them there.

Are there risks associated with cat surgery?

Yes. Whether it's for you, me, or your pet, any anesthesia comes with risks, but we do everything we can to minimize those risks.

How are those risks minimized?

We minimize the risks with the lab screen before surgery to ensure your pet is healthy enough to go through surgery. Another question was asked about monitoring during surgery. We would monitor your pet very closely to make sure that their blood pressure and heart rate and all that was acceptable. And then afterward, we would also take measures to make sure that they recover well during anesthesia.

What are the side effects and possible complications a cat might have during surgery?

The medications that we use to sedate them will lower their blood pressure and heart rate. So, some of those effects we want, but we don't want too much of that. And we are sometimes taking away their ability to feel pain or to do those normal bodily functions. And so, we have to monitor to make sure that they are okay during those procedures and that we're not making them too low in the sedation.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 872-3625, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.