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What To Know About Your Cat's Pre and Post-Op Surgical Care

Understanding Why A Cat Surgery Has Been Recommended

At Metairie Small Animal Hospital, our primary concern is for the health and well-being of your cat. Unfortunately, occasions may arise when a surgical procedure is in the best interest of your feline friend, and in these times you will need to decide the best course of action. We understand what that feels like, and our veterinarians and staff are here for you, too.

If a cat surgery is being recommended, our veterinarian will have sound, medical reasoning and it is important that you understand what surgical procedure is being recommended and why, how the procedure will be performed and when it should take place.

Featured Quote:

One of the questions we get a lot is, will my cat need lab work before anesthesia?

Video Transcript:

Hi, I'm Dr. Samantha at Metairie Small Animal Hospital and we know that families feel more comfortable when they know what to expect before their cat has surgery.


I'm here to answer a few questions for you guys. One of the questions we get a lot is, will my cat need lab work before anesthesia? Lab work before anesthesia is always a good idea to check major organ function like liver and kidneys before the surgery. That way your veterinarian can choose the best drugs for your cat's body.


Another question is will an IV catheter be placed prior to anesthesia? The answer is yes. We always place an IV catheter before anesthesia that will allow for medications and fluids to be given directly into the cat's vein. People also like to ask, will my cat be intubated and why? We do place an endotracheal tube before anesthesia and that allows for the airway to be secured and for gas and the anesthetic drugs to be administered directly into your cat's lungs. This is the safest option.


So who will create the anesthetic plan and monitor your cat while under anesthesia? A veterinarian will create and tailor an anesthetic plan for your cat. While under anesthesia, your cat will be monitored by the veterinarian's assistant. If there's any issues or anything that needs to be updated to the plan, the veterinarian will be notified and make changes accordingly.


Will my cat received pain medications at the time of anesthesia? We typically give a long acting pain medication during the procedure, and if needed, your cat will be sent home with a few days of additional pain control. If you have any further questions or you would like to go ahead and set up your cat's procedure, please give us a call.

There are two categories of cat surgeries, elective and urgent/emergency.

Elective cat surgeries include:

  • Spay
  • Neuter
  • Declawing Procedures
  • Dental extractions

Urgent cat surgeries include:

  • Skin laceration repairs
  • Abscess repairs
  • Intestinal obstruction from a foreign body
  • Skin cancers
  • Fracture repair

Most Modern Cat Surgeries Are Fairly Low Risk

Elective surgeries are performed when your cat is generally considered healthy, thereby greatly reducing possible complications. However, today even urgent cat surgeries carry significantly lower risks due to improvements in modern medicine and vast improvements in the standards of veterinary care. Thanks to an extensive list of pre-surgical procedures such as exams, premedication, introduction of fluids, pain control and monitoring of vital signs; as well as improved protocols during surgery including high level monitoring equipment of vital signs such as body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels and a knowledgeable staff all serve to reduce the risks associated with cat surgeries.

We Follow The Highest Standards Of Veterinary Care

  • Pre-surgical assessments. Prior to surgery, the veterinary team verifies the specifics of the procedure; completes a physical exam of the patient; and ensures requested blood tests have been completed, documented, and reviewed by the veterinarian. Among other things, these precautions help determine if your pet is at risk for complications while under general anesthesia.
  • Dedicated surgical suites. To prevent post-surgical infections and cross-contamination, surgeries are performed in a room used only for sterile surgical procedures.
  • Sterile packs and equipment. Surgical instruments are carefully cleaned, sterilized, and wrapped prior to each procedure to help prevent infections.


Making The Decision To Proceed With Cat Surgery

The decision to do surgery involves a discussion with the owner about possible complications and all factors to be considered when deciding what is best for your cat. Factors to think about when considering cat surgery include:

  • Age and general health of the cat
  • Potential complications from the surgery
  • Potential outcome if surgery is not done
  • Recovery Time and post-op care required by the owner

While the decision to have your cat undergo surgery is completely in your hands, our veterinarians will do their best to make sure you feel supported with information to make the best decision. We are here to help you make an informed and compassionate decision that is in the best interest of your cat.

Cat Pre-Surgical Instructions

Cat pre-surgical instructions vary depending on the type of procedure being performed and whether or not the cat surgery is an emergency or planned event. However, we will provide you with a set of cat pre-surgical instructions that can be used as a general guideline for pre-operative preparations:

  • We recommend that you fast your cat the night before surgery but allow them to drink water through the night. Generally, this involves simply picking up your cat's food but allowing them access to water til you depart for the veterinary hospital.
  • All of your cat's routine medications should be given as normally unless otherwise instructed by a member of our veterinary team.
  • Diabetic cats, or cats with other chronic illnesses, may need special fasting instructions.  Please speak with the veterinarian performing your cat's surgery for instructions.
  • Be on time for your feline surgery. There is an important pre-surgical process that requires your cat to be in the hospital when scheduled.
  • Listen carefully to post-surgical instructions from your veterinary care team and call the hospital if you have any questions regarding the post-op care for your cat.

Cat Anesthesia

Safe cat anesthesia requires that close attention be paid to the patient before, during and after the anesthetic event. At Metairie Small Animal Hospital, we treat every cat according to its specific medical and surgical needs. Each anesthesia is tailored to each patient. We adhere to very stringent guidelines for administering cat anesthesia and for monitoring all anesthetic patients.

Cat anesthesia is extremely safe when the patients are stabilized before the procedure and all effort is made to have a good understanding of the cat's medical condition before surgery. There is always some risk to anesthesia, however, the risk is extremely low when being performed by a highly-qualified veterinarian and surgical team.

Recovery from surgery depends upon the length of the surgery, the age of the cat and the amount of pain medication required to keep your cat free from any post-operative pain. Some things to be aware of post-anesthesia include:

  • It is normal for your cat to be groggy or disoriented for a few hours after receiving a general anesthetic
  • Your cat might sleep deeper or longer for 24 hours after receiving cat anesthesia
  • Your cat might be a duller version of itself for 24 hours after anesthesia due to the sedating effects of anesthesia
  • Review with your veterinarian any feeding and/or comfort tips they can provide depending on what kind of anesthetic was used, and what surgical procedure was performed.

Always remember to call us if you have any questions about your cat's recovery.

Post Surgical Care For Cats

We will tailor all post-surgical instructions for your cat depending upon the procedure and your cat's needs. However, we will provide you with a set of cat surgery recovery instructions that can be used as a general guideline for postoperative care:

  • Pick up time appointment to review the procedure and post-surgical care needs
    • For some, routine procedures  cats can go home a few hours after waking up from anesthesia
    • For more advanced or emergency procedures, extended stays of 24 hours or longer may be necessary in order to monitor vital signs and deliver critical care
  • Make sure you have a good understanding of post-surgical instructions. Remember, all questions are good. Some things to review at pick up time include:
    • The administering of medication, food, and water
    • The changing of bandages, care of stitches, etc.
    • Assisted care tips
    • Follow up appointment scheduling
  • At home, allow your cat to recover in a warm, quiet space of its choosing (if possible) to increase comfort and reduce stress
  • For the first 24 hours, monitor your cat closely as it recovers. Always call if you have any concerns
  • Keep your cat indoor for at least 24 hours to supervise, or until sutures are removed if the procedure required sutures.
  • Suture care (stitches): Most surgeries will require some sutures. Your veterinary staff will review with you the after-care which will include keeping the cats from licking the incision.
    • Some cats will be sent home with an Elizabethan Collar (or cone) to  ensure they do not lick or bite out the sutures
    • Monitor the incision for possible signs of infection which will include redness, swelling or discharge
  • Continue to follow your cat's recovery program until told to alter or discontinue it by your veterinarian

Scheduling Surgery For Your Cat

If you need to discuss surgical options or schedule surgery for your cat, please contact us today. Our veterinary staff is highly experienced and caring cat people who are happy to help ease the stress and fear associated with cat surgery for you and your feline friend.

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