What to Expect: Common Cat Surgeries

Surgery isn’t something most people take lightly, but when it comes to cats, an overwhelming majority of them will undergo a surgical procedure at some point in their lives. Statistics indicate that up to 80% of cats are spayed or neutered, supporting the fact that most cats will endure at least one surgery in their lives.


Surgeries, though, can be needed for any number of ailments. From elective to non-elective to emergency surgeries, cat owners can face a number of decisions related to surgical procedures over the course of their pet’s life. Some of those decisions are time sensitive while others are based more on convenience. 


At Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit, we specialize in pet surgery, performing 15 to 20 surgeries a day per unit. While cases vary, we do come across a series of common cat surgeries that many cat owners may encounter at some point. Here are the six most common cat surgeries we see, with explanations, to put cat owners at ease and help them better understand what they’re facing.


Spay & Neuter.

In addition to controlling the animal population, spaying a female cat or neutering a male cat comes with health benefits for the animal, which includes a reduced risk of developing uterine infections and cancers of the reproductive system. During a spay surgery, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed from a female cat. When a male cat is neutered, his testes are removed. Incisions from the surgery generally heal completely within 10 to 14 days.


Dental work.

For cats, dental cleanings and other dental procedures require anesthesia for the comfort of the animal and the ease of the procedure. Dental cleanings are needed for cats since 70% show signs of periodontal disease by the time they’re 3 years old. Beyond regular cleanings, cats may require a tooth extraction at some point. 


Growth removals.

Benign and malignant growths will require surgery in order for them to be removed. Cats undergoing this procedure will need anesthesia and, depending where the growth is, the procedure may require the veterinarian to shave some of the cat’s fur prior to making an incision. Once the procedure is complete, the cat will rest and recover and the veterinarian will likely biopsy the growth for diagnostic purposes. 


Bladder stones.

Cats have a tendency to develop bladder stones, which form from a build up of minerals and may cause bleeding or straining when a cat urinates. Sometimes the stones can be dissolved with a prescribed diet regimen, but other times the stones require surgery — and surgery is needed immediately if the stones are causing an obstruction. Bladder stone surgery, called a cystotomy, involves an incision to allow the stones to be removed from the bladder. 


Wound repairs.

Surgery to repair wounds will vary based on the severity of a cat’s injury. Veterinarians have the ability to use sutures, stitches and even skin grafts to heal open wounds. Expect any surgical procedure to include anesthesia, and understand that cats should have restricted activities during their recovery period to ensure their wounds heal properly. 


Fractures and broken bones.

Cats can suffer fractures just like any other animal, most commonly because of falls or being stepped on accidentally. Symptoms of a fracture in a cat include pain, an inability to bear weight on a certain leg, swelling and lameness of the leg. Sedation may be required for a proper diagnosis and surgery may also be required if a break will need pins or screws in order to heal. 


As a cat owner, should you run into any of these issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit. We specialize in affordable pet surgery and our mobile units can be found throughout the Phoenix and Tucson areas. While we don’t offer surgeries for wound repairs or for fractures and broken bones, we may be able to refer you to someone who could. 


Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit is a trusted veterinary team serving the Phoenix, Peoria and Tucson metro areas, with accessible locations in each market, offering highly specialized surgery, quality spay and neuter procedures, and accessible  dental care for pets. Contact us to learn more about our specialized services or to schedule an appointment.   

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