Educational Articles

Surgical Conditions

  • The anal sacs are two small pouches located on either side of the anus at approximately the four o'clock and eight o'clock positions. The walls of the sac produce a foul smelling fluid which is released whenever the cat passes a bowel movement. The anal sacs or their ducts can become inflamed or infected due to a variety of causes. Most cats will respond well to pain relief medications and antibiotics (for several days until the swelling and inflammation have subsided. If a cat has several episodes of anal sac disease, and diet or supplements do not relieve the problem, the anal sacs can be removed surgically.

  • The word anesthesia comes from the Greek meaning "lack of sensation". Anesthesia is accomplished by administering drugs that depress nerve function. With general anesthesia, the patient is made unconscious for a short period. During this unconscious state, there is muscular relaxation and a complete loss of pain sensation.

  • Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive therapy that is used to examine, diagnose, and treat diseases and conditions that affect joints. It requires a specialized piece of equipment called an arthroscope which will allow your veterinarian to look inside the joint using a small fiber optic camera that is hooked up to a monitor. It often requires general anesthesia; however, small incisions in the joint allow for a quicker recovery than traditional methods allow. The recovery time will depend on the extent of the injury, but compared to traditional surgery, recovery time is generally much shorter.

  • Bandages or splints may be necessary at times if your cat has a wound or a broken bone. Bandages can be readily applied to the head, neck, chest, tail, or lower legs of a cat. Splints are usually applied below the knee on the back leg or below the midpoint of the humerus on the front leg. Home care is very important and you will need to monitor for changes closely. Your veterinarian will give you more specific directions for the length of time that your cat has to be bandaged.

  • Bladder stones are rock-like formations of minerals that develop in the urinary bladder. All stones form because of disease or inflammation in the bladder. The most common signs of bladder stones in the cat are blood in the urine and straining to urinate. Large stones may act almost like a valve, causing an "on-off" or partial obstruction at the neck of the bladder. In males, small stones become lodged in the urethra and cause an obstruction. X-rays (with or without contrast dyes) or ultrasound may be necessary for diagnosis. The fastest way to remove bladder stones is via a surgical procedure called a cystotomy. Special diets or passing a catheter may be successful for some bladder stones. Your veterinarian will advise you of the best course of action for your cat’s particular situation.

  • Blepharitis means inflammation of the eyelid and can affect one or both eyes. The affected eyelid will usually be red, swollen, and itchy. Any condition that can cause irritation of the eyelids can lead to blepharitis. Common causes of blepharitis include congenital abnormalities, allergies, infections, tumors, and occasionally other inflammatory disorders. Your veterinarian will conduct an eye examination to determine the extent of the eyelid involvement. Specific treatment for blepharitis will depend on the underlying cause of the disorder and the prognosis depends entirely on the cause.

  • Bowel incontinence refers to the loss of the ability to control bowel movements. There are two broad causes of fecal incontinence: reservoir incontinence and sphincter incontinence. In reservoir incontinence, intestinal disease interferes with the rectum’s ability to store normal volumes of feces. In sphincter incontinence, a structural or neurologic lesion prevents the anal sphincter from closing normally. Clinical signs, diagnostic testing, and treatment vary based upon the underlying cause.

  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome occurs in cats that have anatomic abnormalities causing a more flat-faced appearance. These changes in anatomy cause restrictions in the cat's upper airways (including stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, hypoplastic trachea), and can eventually lead to everted laryngeal saccules. Common symptoms of this condition are open mouth breathing and snoring, but can worsen, leading to exercise intolerance, coughing, gagging, or retching. Diagnosis of elongated soft palate, everted saccules, and hypoplastic trachea will require deep sedation or general anesthesia. Cats with this condition may require only corticosteroids, oxygen, and environmental management, but surgery to correct the palate, nares, and everted saccules may need to be performed. Prognosis is good to guarded depending on the severity of the disease.

  • Brain injuries are devastating and, unfortunately, often fatal. The typical signs of brain injury in a cat include altered consciousness that may signal bleeding in the skull, decreased blood flow to the brain, or fluid causing swelling within the brain itself. There are many potential causes of brain injury and treatment will always be determined by the underlying problem that led to the injury.

  • A caesarean section or C-section is major surgery performed to remove kittens from the uterus. This is most commonly performed as an emergency procedure when there is difficulty with natural birth. Most cats recover quickly from this procedure. Most cats have fully recovered from anesthesia by the time they are discharged to go home.