Cats are popular pets for a reason: they’re independent, low-maintenance, and generally very affectionate creatures. But even the best-behaved cats can get sick or injured, and sometimes that means surgery is necessary. In some instances, it requires nighttime or daytime emergency vet care.
Here are the most common surgeries for cats and some helpful information about each procedure.
1. Spaying or Neutering
Most people opt to spay or neuter their cats when they’re young kittens, between four and six months old. This common surgery prevents your cat from reproducing and has many health benefits.
Spaying eliminates the risk of your female cat developing uterine cancer, while neutering lowers the chance of testicular cancer in male cats. In either case, the surgery is fairly straightforward and only requires a short period of recovery time.
Here are things you can do to help them recover quickly:
- Provide a quiet, comfortable place to recover indoors.
- Offer soft food and plenty of fresh water.
- Limit their activity for at least a week.
- Observe if there are signs of infection, such as excessive licking or swelling at the incision site.
2. Declawing (Onychectomy)
While declawing is a controversial topic, it’s still a fairly common surgical procedure for cats. It involves removing the bone and nail from each toe on the front paws.
Most people choose to declaw their cats for one of two reasons: to prevent them from damaging furniture or to protect them (and their owners) from scratches. If your cat is scratching furniture or you’re concerned about them scratching someone, talk to your veterinarian about whether declawing is the right decision for your pet.
While the surgery is considered safe, it is a major procedure requiring a significant recovery period. The following are some measures you can take to help your cat heal after surgery:
- As much as possible, avoid letting your cat jump for a few days after the surgery.
- Let them use a scratching post instead of furniture.
- Apply a warm compress to the incision site several times a day to help with pain and swelling.
- Provide them with a lot of time to rest and recover.
3. Fracture Repairs
Cats are known for their agility, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes suffer from broken bones. If your cat has a fracture, they will likely need surgery to repair it.
The type of surgery your cat needs will depend on the location and severity of the break. In some cases, metal screws or plates may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals. Your cat’s recovery time depends on the extent of the injury. However, keep in mind that it typically takes four to six weeks for a bone to heal properly.
During this time, it’s essential to keep your cat calm and quiet to prevent further injury. Here are some tips:
- Restrict their activity as much as possible.
- Give them a soft bed to sleep in.
- Feed them a nutritious diet to help with healing.
- Provide pain relief as recommended by your veterinarian.
4. Intestinal Blockages
Cats are curious creatures, which sometimes leads them to eat things they shouldn’t. If your cat has eaten something they can’t digest, they may need surgery to remove the blockage.
Intestinal blockages are serious and can be life-threatening, so you should take your pet to the vet right after you notice any signs of a problem. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain.
Surgery is typically successful in removing the blockage, but it can be a lengthy and difficult procedure. Recovery time depends on how severe the blockage is, but it’s vital to give your cat plenty of time to rest and heal afterward.
Here are some things you can do to help them recover:
- Feed them a soft diet as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Give plenty of fresh water to drink.
- Monitor their bathroom habits closely.
- Contact your veterinarian if you notice any problems.
5. Cancer Surgery
Unfortunately, cats can develop cancer just like humans can. If your cat has cancer, they may need surgery to remove the tumor. The type of surgery will depend on the location and size of the tumor.
Sometimes, only the tumor is removed. In other cases, the entire affected area may need to be removed. Your veterinarian makes the decision based on the individual case. Choosing an experienced vet surgeon plays a vital role in your cat’s treatment.
Ask for recommendations from your current vet, or you may also look online. For instance, search “vet near me” to find one within your location. You want to avoid traveling long distances when your cat is already unwell.
Your cat needs time to recover after surgery. The amount of time depends on the surgery type they had. Here are some things you can do to help them heal:
- Give them a quiet place to rest.
- Monitor their food and water intake.
- Provide pain relief as needed.
- Watch for any signs of infection.
Cats are tough creatures, but they can still get sick or injured. If your cat needs surgery, it’s important to choose an experienced veterinarian and give them plenty of time to recover afterward. Click here to learn more about pet surgeries and what to expect after the procedure.