The only surgery for most cats, if they’re lucky, will be their spay or neuter surgery, but even these simple procedures require some special care for a few days. For more complex surgeries with longer recovery times bring even greater challenges. Cats may be uncomfortable, experience pain, and their ability to move around freely may need to be temporarily restricted. Knowing what to expect, and what to watch out for, can make caring for your cat after surgery less stressful for you and help your cat recover faster.Continue Reading
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older cats. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, 6 million cats will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States this year. As heartbreaking as a cancer diagnosis is, it does not have to be the end of the road. Depending on the type of cancer, treatment options ranging from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to palliative care may extend the life of cats with good quality for months, and sometimes even years.Continue Reading
I’ve previously written about how music helps cats relax. A study at Colorado State University is looking at how classical music can help make a veterinary visit less stressful and thus lead to better veterinary care for cats. Music specifically engineered for cats can have a calming effect and even help with behavior problems. More recently, a study at the University of Lisbon in Portugal looked at another aspect of how music can help cats: they measured the respiratory rates and pupil dilation of cats who were undergoing spay surgeries.Continue Reading
Declawing is a topic that can elicit strong emotions, with most people coming down on the side of opposing it. Declawing is considered either illegal or inhumane in 25 countries around the world, including England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Brazil. The United States lacks sadly behind in establishing legislation to make declawing illegal, but thankfully, more and more cat lovers, cat welfare organizations and veterinarians are speaking out against declawing, calling it inhumane and unnecessary.
Declawing is extremely painful
Declawing is not just nail trimming. The declaw surgery involves amputating the last bone of the cats’ toes. Continue Reading
An injection-site sarcoma is a tumor of the connective tissues in the cat. These tumors are often called fibrosarcomas, and are most frequently located between the shoulder blades, in the hip region, and in the back legs. They are most often associated with inactive killed rabies or feline leukemia vaccines, or with multiple vaccines given at the same time, but they can also be caused by other injections such as steroids. They have even been associated with microchips. The incidence of these tumors ranges from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000 cats. They can develop as quickly as 4 weeks or as late as 10 years post vaccination.
The first step toward diagnosis is a fine needle aspirate of the lump. Your cat’s veterinarian will insert a small needle directly into the tumor and extract cells. This is an inexpensive and minimally invasive test, but unfortunately, it is also not very accurate and can lead to a high rate of false negative results. In most cases, a surgical biopsy will be necessaryContinue Reading
An estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of all cats will be affected by cancer. Mammary (breast) cancer is the third most common cancer in cats, after lymphoma and skin cancer. More than 90% of the victims are female cats older than 10 years of age. Early detection of this type of cancer is critical and greatly improves chances of survival for affected cats.
Mammary tumors often appear as small, hard lumps the size of a pebble or pea. They may be moveable, or may be firmly attached to the skin or underlying muscle. The most common locations for these tumors are the first front sets of mammary glands, but they can occur anywhere near the cat’s nipples. In its initial stage, the tumor may be hard to feel, it’s not painful, and there won’t be any obvious clinical signs. It can be months before a growth is noticed.
Diagnosis is obtained by surgically removing the growthContinue Reading
When your cat is recovering from a serious illness, surgery or an accident, she may require extended nursing care when she returns from the veterinary hospital. Providing nursing care can seem overwhelming, but most cats will recover more quickly if they’re at home in their familiar environment with the person they love.
The following tips can help take the stress out of caring for your cat after an illness or accident.
Provide a safe and quiet place for her to recuperate
Your cat’s personality, and the severity of the illness, will determine the right approach. If your cat seems to do better if she can access all her familiar places, than by all means, let her do so. But if she seems to want to just stay in one place, make the area as comfortable as you can for her. Provide plenty of blankets and soft bedding, and make sure that she has easy access to a litter box and fresh water.
Encourage your cat to eat
Try using flat dishes or paper plates.Continue Reading
Every rescue story is special, because every rescue saves a life. Some rescue stories, usually the ones involving disasters or tragedies, are reported by the big media outlets. But for every sensational rescue, there are hundreds of quiet rescues that happen every day. One such story came to me last week from Sue, who heard about me and my love for tortoiseshell cats from Caren Gittleman, who writes Cat Chat With Caren and Cody.
One cold Sunday in February, Sue and her 11-year-old son were headed to church. They took a side road with lots of fields and brush along the way. Sue just happened to glance to her left, and thought she saw a kitten hobbling by the roadside. She knew she had to turn around and check. That split decision changed Sue’s and her son’s lives.
The little tortoiseshell kitten Sue had seen out of the corner of her eye was still in the same spot. Continue Reading
The only surgery for most cats, if they’re lucky, will be their spay or neuter surgery. But as cats get better care, and potential problems are diagnosed earlier, they may also need surgery for other conditions. According to Dr. Arnold Plotnick, a feline veterinarian who owns and operates Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York City, “the most common surgeries we perform, after spays and neuters, would be removal of skin lumps or masses. Bladder stone removal would also be high on our list.”
Regardless of the type of surgery, caring for your cat after surgery can be a challenge. Cats may be uncomfortable, experience pain, and their ability to move around freely may need to be temporarily restricted. Knowing what to expect, and what to watch out for, can make caring for your cat after surgery less stressful for you and help your cat recover faster.
Talk to your veterinarian before and after the surgery
Make sure you understand the type of surgery your pet needs, as well as any pre-surgical requirements such as withholding food the night before. Find out what the expectations for recovery are. This will depend on the type of surgery, and your cat’s age and health status. Will your cat need to spend the night at the veterinary hospital, or will you be able to bring her home the same day? Dr. Plotnick sends most of his surgical patients home the same day, only about a third may need to spend the night.
Ask your veterinarian about post-surgical care instructions. If your cat requires medication such as antibiotics or pain medication, make sure that you know how, and how frequently to give the medication, and what to do if you miss a dose. Ask whether the medication has any side effects so you know what to expect.
Discuss financial arrangements prior to the surgery so that you don’t experience “sticker shock” when you pick up your cat. Most veterinarians will provide you with an estimate for their services.
Provide a safe and quiet place for your cat
Cats may still be a little groggy after anesthesia, and they’ll need a quiet place to rest. You may need to keep them away from other pets or small children. You may want to set aside a bedroom or bathroom, instead of giving the cat full run of the house right away. Put soft blankets or your cat’s favorite bed in the room, and make sure your cat has easy access to a litter box and to water.
Keep an eye on the incision site
Most cats will try to lick the area, and in the process, may chew or rip out their stitches or staples. While licking and biting at the incision site is a natural healing process for cats, if you notice that the stitches are coming loose, you will need to put an E-collar (Elizabethan collar) on your cat. Traditionally, these collars were made out of hard, cone-shaped plastic, which made simple actions such as eating, drinking, sleeping and even walking up and down stairs difficult and uncomfortable for cats. Thankfully, there is now an alternative to these collars. The Trimline Veterinary Recovery Collar is a soft, lightweight and flexible Elizabethan-style collar that provides a barrier to the treatment area from licking and biting, while still allowing pets to move around comfortably and easily.
Not all surgical patients will need E-collars. Dr. Plotnick only sends E-collars with cats whose sutures are placed in a location where they could be chewed out or traumatized by a paw. “For example,” says Dr. Plotnick, “when doing a delicate eyelid surgery, you don’t want the cat to rub hereye and damage the incision, so an Elizabethan collar is often placed on these cats.” Dr. Plotnick likes the Trimline collars “because they’re softer and more comfortable. I like that, in some instances, you can fold them down, so that they point toward the body (rather than up as a cone around the head). When they’re directed down, toward the body, cats can eat more comfortably and they still have their full peripheral vision.”
Watch for any redness, swelling or discharge from the incision. Call your veterinarian if any of these are present.
Watch for any signs of pain
Cats are masters at hiding pain. The instinct to hide pain is a legacy of cats’ wild origins. In the wild, an animal that appears to be sick or disabled is vulnerable to attack from predators, and survival instinct dictates to act as if nothing is wrong, even when something most definitely is.
A good rule of thumb is that a procedure that is painful for humans will also be painful for cats. Some signs to look for that may indicate that your cat is in pain are behavior changes (quieter than normal, hiding, pacing, aggression), decreased or no appetite, increased respiratory rate, or vocalization.
Pain control is important – not just because you don’t want your cat to hurt, but because pain causes stress in the body and stress slows down the healing process. Pain management should never be optional, but rather, an integral part of managing a surgical patient.
It’s always upsetting when your cat is facing surgery, but knowing what to expect, and how to care for your cat after the surgery can make it a less stressful experience for cat and guardian.
Trimline Recovery Collars are available from Amazon.
Photo provided by Trimline Recovery Collars, used with permission.