Illustrated Articles

Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • A perineal hernia is a protrusion of tissue through the muscle of the perineum. Potential causes, clinical signs, and treatment are explained. The prognosis ranges from good to poor, depending on the ability to perform surgery and the pet's response to surgery. Perineal hernias have the potential to be life-threatening.

  • A perineal urethrostomy (PU) is a surgical procedure that is most commonly performed on male cats with a urinary obstruction. Male cats develop urinary obstructions much more readily than female cats, due to differences in urinary tract anatomy between the two sexes. A PU creates a new urinary opening that decreases the length of the urethra and allows urine to bypass this narrowed region. Less commonly, PU may also be performed in cats with severe urethral trauma. After surgery, your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent self-trauma to the surgical site.

  • When your cat comes home after an operation, special care must be taken to ensure he remains indoors with restricted activity and cannot lick or chew at his incision site. Monitor your cat for abnormal signs and contact your veterinarian if any are observed.

  • Pyometra is defined as an infection in the uterus. Pyometra is considered a serious and life threatening condition that must be treated quickly and aggressively. Pyometra may occur in any sexually intact young to middle-aged cat; however, it is most common in older cats. Typically, the cat has been in heat within the previous 4 weeks.

  • Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Some purebred cats are more at risk, but it can affect any cat and is believed to be an inherited trait. Diagnosis can usually be made by palpation but sometimes requires blood testing or abdominal ultrasound if the cat’s history is unknown. Risks of retained testicles include testicular cancer, spermatic cord torsion, and the development of undesirable male characteristics, so neutering is strongly recommended. Surgery is generally routine, and recovery is similar to any abdominal surgery.

  • Cats scratch and claw for several reasons: scratching serves to shorten and condition the claws, scratching allows an effective, whole body stretch, and cats scratch to mark their territory. There is usually a non-surgical solution to scratching issues.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a tumor of the cells that make up the contact or upper layer of the skin. UV light exposure has been described as a developmental factor in people and appears to be associated with its development in cats. Areas affected include the ear tips, skin, toes, or peri-ocular region. Fine needle aspiration or biopsy may be performed for diagnosis. The metastatic rate does not appear overly clear, though staging is always recommended. SCC of the toe can occur as a primary tumor or may have spread from the lung (lung-digit syndrome). Surgery is almost always recommended in any case of SCC; the role of chemotherapy is controversial. Radiation therapy has an excellent response rate in cats with the SCC affecting the nasal planum and may give long-term tumor control.

  • Struvite bladder stones are one of the most common bladder stones in cats. In some cats, struvite bladder stones form as a result of a urinary tract infection. Signs of bladder stones typically include frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and urinating outside of the litterbox. If your cat is having urinary issues, your veterinarian will first recommend a urinalysis. Blood tests, abdominal radiographs, and ultrasound may also be recommended. Medical dissolution and surgical removal are two categories of treatment. Cats who have developed struvite bladder stones are likely to experience a recurrence later in life, unless the conditions that led to the formation of stones can be corrected.

  • Home care after surgery mainly involves the restriction of physical activity. Excessive physical activity often leads to injury or serious complications. Monitor the incision daily for signs of redness, swelling, discharge, or excessive licking, and never apply anything to the incision unless instructed to do so. To keep your cat from licking, your veterinarian can provide you with a protective collar or recovery suit. Your cat should gradually improve each day.

  • The main objectives of fracture repair are to promote rapid healing of the fracture and to get the cat using its leg as quickly as possible. In most cases, this involves rebuilding the broken bone and fixing it in that position with metallic implants. Post-operative care includes pain medications, antibiotics, adequate nutrition, exercise restriction, and physiotherapy. Most fractures can be repaired very effectively and in many cases, your cat will resume normal activity.