When is cat surgery considered elective, non-elective, or emergency?

So cat surgeries are considered elective when they're non-emergency surgeries—things like spays, neuters, dental procedures, etc. Those kinds of things are elective procedures versus emergency procedures for wounds, significant injuries, and more life-saving things than those emergent surgeries.

Dr. Sarah Dilworth
The Drake Center

What are the most common cat surgeries?

The most common cat surgeries are spays and neuters, dental procedures, and enterotomy or gastrotomy which are abdominal procedures for foreign bodies, and also wound management, fracture repairs, bladder stone removal—those are some of the main ones.

Will cats need lab work done before having surgery?

Yes, we require lab work before surgery, and that's mainly to help us understand how a patient is going to do with some of our anesthetic agents and know what their overall metabolic stability is going into the surgery.

What will the veterinarian be looking for in the pre-surgery lab work?

There are many different things that we get from the lab work. Some of the primary things that we look at are kidney and liver values. Those are the organs that metabolize or digest some of the anesthetic agents. And then, we're also looking at things like white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelets, which can also help us understand healing processes. And a few other indicators that allow us to understand how stable they are going into that procedure and how well we're going to anticipate they're going to be able to do are protein levels and electrolytes.

What do I need to know before my cat has surgery?

You should understand what the recovery time may be, what the actual procedure is intended to do, and how we will approach that. Is it going to be a small incision that we're going to be making versus a large incision? Are they going to need to have significant restrictions afterward? Some of those things are good to inquire about so that you know how to prepare yourself for going into it.

Who will be monitoring the cat while under anesthesia?

Here at the Drake Center, we have registered veterinary technicians who are specifically licensed with a higher level of education and certification. And those technicians, in combination with a few other surgical technicians that we have specifically trained who are a part of our surgical team, are monitoring anesthesia while the doctors perform the procedure.

How long is recovery after a cat surgery?

Recovery time can be a bit variable depending on the specific type of procedure. The majority of soft tissue surgeries take about 10 days for the full recovery of a kitty to return to complete everyday activities. Some dental procedures require a day or two as the length of time they need to recover. And occasionally, some of the more extensive surgeries - wound repairs, abdominal surgeries - can be up to about two weeks or so.

What can be done to help your cat recover at home after surgery?

So the best thing to do to help a kitty recover after surgery is to pay attention to their discharge instructions when they get dismissed because a lot of those are explicitly catered to the cat—things that we think that they're going to need as far as pain management, sometimes antibiotics, and what to watch for that could indicate there is a problem. And a lot of cats are sent home with cones or collars to use afterward, which are essential for wound care, incision care, and a lot of these cats are going to go home with some activity restriction instructions—so paying close attention to those are important. And then one of the most important things is, if there's ever a concern at home, to reach out to us here at the Drake Center because we want to make sure that every one of our patients has a good healing and recovery period.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Surgery - FAQs

Dr. Sarah Dilworth
The Drake Center

What can I do at home to get my cat ready for surgery?

Have a conversation and a visit with your veterinarian in preparation for the surgery to know what we're getting into. But with the majority of our cat surgeries, we're going to want to have them fasted before the procedure, so no food in frequent proximity before the procedure. We want them fasted overnight, so no breakfast on the day of. Getting your cat into a carrier or being used to being in their carrier is essential so that they can travel safely to the Drake Center.

What questions should I ask my veterinarian before my cat has surgery?

So any questions related to any previous experiences that you've had with any cat surgeries are important to address upfront with your veterinarian so that you know what to anticipate going into the surgery. Understanding recovery time and any medications that your cat might be going home with are some other things to ask beforehand so that you know what to expect.

How soon can my cat come home after surgery?

So on the day of their procedure, your veterinarian will be in touch with you about your cat's recovery, how the procedure went, and also set up the time that they will be going home. The staff will go over all of the discharge instructions with you. Typically, most of our patients will be going home from the Drake Center late afternoon or early evening with their discharge instructions and will have been well recovered.

What do I need to know about taking care of my cat after surgery?

After surgery, many of our kitty patients will go home with some post-op pain medication, so understanding how to administer oral medication is essential. And some cats will also have some activity restrictions placed on them, so knowing what those activities that can and can't occur are important. And occasionally, we will have some dietary recommendations, immediately post-op or a little while post-op, depending on what procedure they had. So those are some things to pay attention to at home.

Will my cat need post-surgery pain medication?

Depending on the procedure is the answer to that. In many procedures, such as spays and neuters, cats receive pain medications. Occasionally our kitty cats will receive long-lasting medications in hospital and won't need other oral meds to go home with. Depending on the procedure, we'll need to send some medications for a bit longer after surgery, and that will be discussed at the time of their procedure.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.