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Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • Usually caused by a bite from another cat, fight wound infections can lead to the development of an abscess (a pocket of pus) or cellulitis (pain and swelling in the area of the bite). A cat’s sharp canine teeth can easily puncture the skin of another cat, leaving small, deep, wounds that seal over quickly, so it is important that your cat is seen by a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible after being bitten.

  • Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the pressure within the eye, called the intraocular pressure (IOP), is increased. Glaucoma is caused by inadequate drainage of aqueous fluid. Glaucoma is classified as primary or secondary. High intraocular pressure causes damage to occur in the retina and the optic nerve. Blindness can occur very quickly unless the increased IOP is reduced. Analgesics to control the pain and medications that decrease fluid production and promote drainage are often prescribed to treat glaucoma. The prognosis depends to a degree upon the underlying cause of the glaucoma.

  • An aural hematoma is a collection of blood between the cartilage and skin of the ear flap. It is most likely caused by trauma but can also be due to a bleeding disorder. If an underlying cause is determined such as infection, this needs to be treated as well. Hematomas may eventually resolve on their own, but there is a risk of permanent damage and they are painful, so prompt treatment is recommended.

  • Cats are curious by nature, which can lead them into trouble, especially when they ingest items not meant to be eaten, such as thread, wool, paper, rubber bands, plant materials, and small toys. While some will pass through the digestive tract, some foreign bodies can cause serious problems. This handout explains foreign bodies in the intestinal tracts of cats and reviews clinical signs, diagnostic tests, treatment, and the prognosis of these situations.

  • A hernia occurs when a body part or internal organ protrudes through the wall of muscle or tissue meant to contain it. In the case of an inguinal hernia, these internal organs or structures have managed to make their way through the inguinal ring (an opening in the abdominal wall near the pelvis) to protrude into the groin area. The condition itself can be broadly classified as either acquired or congenital. In general, it is best to surgically repair an inguinal hernia at the time of diagnosis, as delaying can result in a more complicated and difficult procedure.

  • Otitis interna can cause some significant signs in your cat, including drooling from the side of the mouth, difficulty eating, inability to blink, and drooping eyelids, lips, and nostril on the affected side. If the specific cause can be identified, such as bacterial or fungal infection, treatment could involve long-term medications. Less commonly, surgery may be needed. Many cats will respond to treatment and recover well.

  • A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bones that normally articulate to form a joint. Subluxation is the term referring to a partial separation of the joint. The most commonly subluxated joint in cats is the hip, although any joint can be affected. Your veterinarian may be suspicious of a joint subluxation based on a history of trauma and physical examination findings such as pain and limping. A radiograph is necessary to definitively diagnose a joint subluxation. In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction with prognosis being good if treated immediately.

  • Laser surgery is a procedure that generates a beam of light energy at a specific wavelength, resulting in the cutting of tissues. There are three major advantages of laser surgery when compared to traditional stainless steel surgical scalpels, which are decreased pain, decreased inflammation, and improved tissue healing. Routine procedures such as ovariohysterectomy and castration are commonly done with laser.

  • One especially dangerous type of foreign body in cats is referred to as a linear foreign body. This term describes long, thin objects such as string, yarn, and tinsel. If one end of the linear foreign body becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, intestinal perforation may occur. The most common signs of a linear foreign body include vomiting, anorexia (refusal to eat), dehydration, and lethargy. If your veterinarian suspects a linear foreign body, your cat will need an exploratory laparotomy.

  • A luxating patella is a kneecap that 'pops out' or moves out of its normal location. Signs include intermittent lameness, an unusual 'skipping' on the affected leg when the cat walks or runs, or difficulty jumping. A luxating patella can be corrected surgically, especially if the patella luxates frequently. If your veterinarian performs surgery before arthritis or another knee injury occurs, the prognosis is excellent.