Educational Articles

Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • 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 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.

  • After arriving at home, you should keep your cat warm and comfortable by providing a soft clean bed, ideally in a quiet and draft-free room at a comfortable room temperature. Your cat should remain indoors. For most procedures, your cat's activity should be restricted for one full week after surgery. Some cats experience nausea after general anesthesia, so dividing meals into smaller portions may decrease the risk of nausea and vomiting.

  • Pyometra is defined as an infection in the uterus. Pyometra is considered a serious and life threatening condition that must be treated quickly and aggressively. Pyometra may occur in any sexually intact young to middle-aged cat; however, it is most common in older cats. Typically, the cat has been in heat within the previous 4 weeks.

  • Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Some purebred cats are more at risk, but it can affect any cat and is believed to be an inherited trait. Diagnosis can usually be made by palpation but sometimes requires blood testing or abdominal ultrasound if the cat’s history is unknown. Risks of retained testicles include testicular cancer, spermatic cord torsion, and the development of undesirable male characteristics, so neutering is strongly recommended. Surgery is generally routine, and recovery is similar to any abdominal surgery.

  • Cats scratch and claw for several reasons: scratching serves to shorten and condition the claws, scratching allows an effective, whole body stretch, and cats scratch to mark their territory. There is usually a non-surgical solution to scratching issues.

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