Cat Surgery: Guide For Veterinary Nurses, Students, And Technicians

Published on Oct 10, 2022 12:00 AM
Cat Surgery: Guide For Veterinary Nurses, Students, And Technicians

Veterinary nurses and technicians have to interact with pets, especially cats and dogs, daily. So, being a vet nurse, student, or vet tech, you need to be well aware of the veterinary procedures and surgeries that pets may require.

Learning and knowing about cat surgery is valuable for your clinical practice and essential to guiding pet owners. So, if you have extensive knowledge about cat procedures, you can convince more clients by providing them with the correct information. 

It is admitted that the more you know, the higher your confidence will be. So, learning everything about cat surgeries will enable you to improve your practice and be more efficient in your role.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to mastering everything about the types of cat surgery and all the related concerns you must explain to the cat owner before and after the procedure. 

Major Types Of Cat Surgery

In general, there are hundreds of cat procedures, but veterinary experts and cat surgeons have categorized these approaches into elective, non-elective, and emergency surgeries.

Elective procedures are those that depend on the choice of caregiver. The best examples of elective surgery include spaying and neutering.

On the other hand, emergency surgery would be required when serious complications or trauma need to be addressed immediately. In such cases, the cat's life would usually be in danger, or it would be too ill to wait a few days. Examples of emergency conditions include internal bleeding, intestinal obstruction, urethral blockages, ACL ruptures, skin cancers, or bone fractures.

Contrarily, non-elective procedures are those medically necessary but not immediately required. Consequently, you might postpone it for a day or a week.

However, cat eye surgery can be elective, non-elective, or urgent, depending on the severity of the particular ophthalmic condition.

Factors To Monitor Before Surgery

As a vet nurse or technician, it’s your duty to evaluate some important factors before the cat surgeon starts the procedure. Make sure you have accurately monitored the following factors related to the cat's health.

•    Heart rate
•    Oxygen saturation
•    Blood pressure
•    EKG (Electrocardiogram)

Moreover, you have to learn about various things through lab work. Values for the kidney and liver are some of the main parameters you should consider, as these organs are responsible for the metabolism or digestion of several anesthetic substances.

Additionally, you must examine and record the counts of white blood cells, red blood cell count, and platelets, as the healing process depends on their number. Indicators like protein levels and electrolytes also help to determine how stable the patient is before the surgery.

If any of these parameters is amiss, you must promptly alert the cat surgeon to avoid complications during or after the surgery.

Cat Anesthesia 

Administering anesthesia is the responsibility of the veterinary nurse or technician. Therefore, you must follow strict standards to effectively provide cat anesthetic before, during, or after the surgery.

Cat anesthesia is safer when the patient is stabilized before the treatment. Although some complications are associated with anesthesia, they can be effectively minimized when you follow the established procedure.

You need to be well-versed in the facts about cat anesthesia, such as:

    Cat's drowsiness or confusion for a few hours following a general anesthetic is common.
    Twenty-four hours after receiving anesthesia, the cat may sleep longer.
•    For the first 24 hours following surgery, it might be necessary to help the cat balance while feeding it.

How And What To Guide The Cat Owners

Prior to proceeding with cat surgery, you must talk to the pet owner about potential risks and other aspects that should be considered.

The most important of them include 

•    Pre-surgical care
•    Potential side effects from the procedure
•    Post-operative care
•    Post-surgery pain medication 
•    Required recovery time
•    Cost of the surgery

Besides, you also have to tell them about the risks of not having surgery for a particular trauma or complication. 

Even if the choice to have the cat undergo surgery is entirely up to the owners, as a vet tech or nurse, you must provide them with all the information and potential consequences that will help them make a wise decision regarding a particular surgery.

Let’s discuss the crucial factors in detail.

Pre-Surgical Care

In case of any type of cat surgery, being a veterinary professional, you have to guide pet owners about pre-surgical care to prevent possible risks and complications that may arise during the procedure. 

Depending on the type of surgery, there are different pre-surgical guidelines for cats.

The general guidelines for pet owners are:

    Not to feed the cat the night before or in the morning of surgery day.
    Let the cat drink until the morning before the procedure (In some cases).
•    Be on time on the surgery day, as your senior vets may have strict schedules, and any delays might jeopardize the health of the late pet and the other cats waiting in line. 

Possible Risks And Complications

Complications can arise during or after the cat surgery—usually, the risk during the surgery results from the reaction of anesthesia. For example, the cat may succumb to lethargy or start vomiting after receiving anesthesia. 

Although there could be different reasons for different surgeries, all procedures start with an incision, a cut made into the skin to provide access to the affected site.

Complete healing is not guaranteed until the incision has entirely healed following surgery and the cat has fully recovered. So there is a chance of some common postoperative complications that must be communicated to the cat owner.

The minor complications include depression, dehydration, lack of appetite, and diarrhea. However, the major complications are more severe, such as:

•    Pale gums from blood loss
•    Swelling at the site of the incision
    Any tissue protruding from the incision
•    Discharge or bleeding from the incision
•    Sutures falling out or missing

You must guide your client on how to handle these post-operative complications at home or what to do in case of severe conditions. 

Post-Surgical Care

Post-surgical care for the cat is as essential as the surgery itself. So, you need to provide proper guidelines to the pet owner on taking care of the pet at home and other post-op concerns.

The best thing you can do to help a cat recover after surgery is to pay attention to its discharge instructions, including pain management and antibiotics.

Moreover, it is wise not to let the cat jump or run over the couches and chairs. They should also not be allowed to interact with other pets. Keeping the cat separate is one of pet surgery's most essential post-op care. 

Above all, it is sage to contact veterinarians immediately in severe and uncontrollable situations.

Post-Surgery Pain Medication

Painkillers are usually required after surgery for cats. It is essential to provide detailed instructions to the cat owner about post-surgery pain management, such as

    Where to buy reliable medicines
•    How to give medicines to the cat
    Time duration for certain doses
•    Amount of dosage 
    Possible side effects

Recovery Time

Depending on the particular cat surgery, recovery times may vary. However, most soft tissue procedures require around 10 days for a cat to heal and resume normal daily activities fully.

In the case of a cat dental procedure, a day or two is sometimes needed for recovery. 

Additionally, the recovery time for some of the more extensive cat surgeries, such as abdominal operations and wound repairs, can occasionally last up to two weeks.


Depending upon the type of cat surgery, the cost of the procedure may vary. But, it is necessary to explain all the expenses to the caregivers so that they can make the arrangements accordingly and there is no misunderstanding at the time of discharge. 

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