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What You Need to Know When Your Cat Has Surgery
Many people have questions about various aspects of their cat's surgery, and we hope this information will help. It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors and improved pharmaceutical options have made surgery much safer than in the past. At Serenity Cat Hospital, Inc., we do a thorough physical exam on your cat before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your cat.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys are functioning. The liver metabolizes the drug and the kidneys help to clear the anesthetics from the body. Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer three levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your cat in. Our doctor prefers the more comprehensive screen, because it gives her the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill cats, additional blood tests, or may be required before surgery as well.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 12 hours before surgery unless your cat is a kitten or has a medical condition that would require feeding . (Diabetes Mellitus) Water can be left down for your pet until the morning of surgery.
Will my cat have stitches?
For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling, redness or discharge. Most cats will not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time. So no jumping from the refrigerator to the floor, wrestling with their playmates or sprinting through the house at warp speed for at least a week after surgery.
Will my cat be in pain?
Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in cats. Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Painful cats will hide and not be interested in food. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
We may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol we are limited in what we can give them. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is absolutely fatal when given to cats. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. Before and after surgery, pain medication is evaluated and given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
We use narcotic patches for some surgeries in cats as well. Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your cat.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your cat is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as implanting an identification microchip. If you would like an estimate for any extra services, please call ahead of time. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the cat's care.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, you will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your kitty after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your his or her home care needs.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your cat's health or surgery.