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Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • Muscle tears are direct or indirect traumatic injuries that cause damage to the architecture of the muscle tissue. The most common cause is an indirect injury, or strain, caused by overstretching during athletic activities, such as running or jumping. Clinical signs of muscle tears include pain on palpation of the injured area, lameness or limping, swelling of the muscle, and/or bruising. Muscle tears are treated immediately with rest, cold compresses, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. In the most severe cases, surgery is likely required.

  • Polyps are benign fleshy growths that originate from the cells lining a cat's nasal passages, leading to a variety of clinical signs such as sneezing, difficulty breathing, and recurrent ear infections. The various diagnostic tools and treatment approaches are explained in this handout.

  • Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign idiopathic masses originating from the middle ear that extend either down the eustachian tube or into the external ear. They can cause stertor, nasal discharge, otitis, otic discharge and head tilt. Diagnosis may involve visualization through otoscopic exam or behind the soft palate, but usually needs radiographic evidence or more advanced imaging such as CT or MRI. Treatment involves debulking the mass through traction which has a high rate of recurrence, or more advanced surgery into the bulla to remove the source of the polyp.

  • Rarely, ovarian tissue can be left behind when a cat is spayed. This leads to the ongoing secretion of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that can result in a cat continuing to have a heat cycle. Ovarian remnants are difficult to diagnose but vaginal cytology combined with hormone testing can be used to confirm the presence of functional ovarian tissue. Surgical treatment is typically recommended to prevent other health conditions from developing.

  • Oxalate bladder stones are composed of a mineral called calcium oxalate. Over the past 40 years the incidence over oxalate bladder stones has increased in cats. Cats are more likely to develop oxalate stones when their urine contains high levels of calcium and oxalate. In some cases, this is also associated with high blood calcium levels. Additionally, a low urine pH promotes the formation of oxalate stones. Bladder stones can cause significant inflammation and irritation of the bladder wall. Signs may include frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and urinating outside of the litterbox. Treatment of oxalate stones usually requires surgical removal, known as a cystotomy or less commonly may be removed via a process known as cystoscopy. Your cat will require ongoing management.

  • The ductus arteriosus is an arterial shunt between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart defect that occurs when the ductus arteriosus fails to close down at birth. If the ductus arteriosus fails to close properly after birth, the difference in pressure between the pulmonary artery and the aorta means that the blood will take the path of least resistance and flow from the aorta through the patent ductus arteriosus into the pulmonary artery, needlessly recirculating this oxygenated blood back to the lungs. The larger the PDA is, the more blood will be shunted through it, causing more significant signs. A PDA will usually be diagnosed when your veterinarian hears a continuous heart murmur during a routine physical examination of your kitten. The goal of treatment for a forward flowing PDA is to stop the blood flowing through the shunt. Your veterinarian will refer you to a veterinary cardiovascular surgeon, who will determine the optimal treatment for your cat. Provided that the condition is treated before heart failure develops, the success rate associated with surgical closure is very high and the prognosis for a normal life after surgery is excellent.

  • Penetrating wounds can look minor on the surface but may cause severe injury below the skin. A thorough assessment requires sedation or anesthesia and surgery may be required to address the extent of the injury. This handout outlines first aid steps a pet owner can take while transporting their injured pet to the veterinary hospital.

  • A Penrose drain is a latex tube that is placed into a wound with one or two ends exiting the skin, allowing fluids to drain from the wound. The Penrose drain is designed to passively remove unwanted fluid, usually when treating abscesses or open wounds. Drains should be removed as soon as possible, usually within 2-4 days. Larger wounds may take longer. Once the drain and all the sutures have been removed, your cat can return to normal activities unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian.

  • 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.