Complete Feline Surgical Care From Kittenhood Through Senior Years
Spay and Neuter:
Everyone understands that it is wise to get your cat spayed or neutered to prevent adding to the unwanted pet population in this country. There are some other very important reasons to consider this as well. Un-neutered male cats develop very strong smelling urine that will be very offensive and pervasive in your house or apartment. Both male and female cats that are not neutered or spayed will tend to be more interested in escaping to explore, be more territorial and aggressive, and be more likely to mark on horizontal surfaces or spray urine on vertical surfaces. Unspayed female cats are prone to severe uterine infections and are at least 7 times more likely to develop breast cancers which are very aggressive, and are difficult and expensive to treat. So, for your cats’ health, make sure they are spayed or neutered before they are 6 months of age!!!
We encourage training kittens at a young age to use a scratching post or two so that they can exhibit their natural behavior of scratching and marking with their paws. A variety of types of scratching posts are available as some cats prefer vertical and some prefer horizontal scratching. There are situations where this training fails, where cats are very destructive, where very young or very old people are at risk, and where the responsible animal caretaker determines it is best to consider declawing a cat. In these situations, the doctor and owner will decide the next best step. If declawing is done, we work very hard to make sure that appropriate pain medications of various modalities are used to minimize any discomfort to the patient. We do not use glue or sutures so that the paws go back to their normal appearance. Cats that are declawed correctly go about their usual “clawing” behavior as if they had their claws all along. We realize some are opposed to this procedure and strongly respect that opinion and encourage all to investigate the options and choose what is best for the caretaker and the cat.
Mass and Lump Removal:
It is not unusual for cats to develop skin lumps especially as they get older. Lumps sometimes develop on or under the skin – or virtually any place on the body. In consultation with the veterinarian, it is usually wise to have the lumps removed and evaluated to make sure they are not a concern. There are some benign and some malignant types of skin tumors and the smaller they are on removal, the better the prognosis should the biopsy come back indicating cancer. Often this can be done in conjunction with a dental cleaning or if the cat is under anesthesia for some other reason.
There are many reasons why we might need to surgically explore the abdomen – anything from removing a swallowed toy, string or rubber band, to getting biopsies to differentiate between inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal cancer, to removing or biopsying an abdominal mass. With the help of our digital x-ray unit, and often abdominal ultrasound, we can determine the need to investigate further inside the abdomen. With careful pain management, good anesthesia monitoring, watching and maintaining body temperature and good surgical technique, cats make very good surgical candidates and usually bounce back very quickly – much better than their human counterparts often do. This procedure usually helps us get a definitive diagnosis, thus allowing our treatment to be definitive and give us the best chance for success.
Over the years, improvements in feline nutrition have helped to decrease the frequency of bladder stone formation. We do see variation in an individual cat’s metabolism which might make him or her more likely to produce the minerals in the urine that help form bladder stones. Some stones we are able to dissolve with diet changes, but if it is large, causing discomfort or not dissolvable, it is often best to go in and remove the stone for quick relief for the patient. We then submit the stone for evaluation to help us determine how to best prevent recurrence of the stone or stones.