Educational Articles

Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • Cats are curious by nature. They love to investigate new sights, smells, and tastes. Unfortunately, this curiosity can lead them into trouble. Cats are notorious for ingesting thread, wool, paper, rubber bands, plant materials, and small toys. Not all foreign objects pass through the digestive tract without complication.

  • Otitis interna can cause some significant signs in your cat, including drooling from the side of the mouth, difficulty eating, inability to blink, and drooping eyelids, lips, and nostril on the affected side. If the specific cause can be identified, such as bacterial or fungal infection, treatment could involve long-term medications. Less commonly, surgery may be needed. Many cats will respond to treatment and recover well.

  • A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bones that normally articulate to form a joint. Subluxation is the term referring to a partial separation of the joint. The most commonly subluxated joint in cats is the hip, although any joint can be affected. Your veterinarian may be suspicious of a joint subluxation based on a history of trauma and physical examination findings such as pain and limping. A radiograph is necessary to definitively diagnose a joint subluxation. In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction with prognosis being good if treated immediately.

  • LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation. In short, it is a device that generates a beam of light energy at a specific wavelength. The first laser was developed in 1960, and its use in human surgery became widespread in the late 1980's.

  • The term 'foreign body' refers to any non-food object located within the digestive tract of a dog or cat. Our pets have the tendency to play with or chew on non-food objects and, in the process of doing so, these objects can be inadvertently ingested. One especially dangerous type of foreign body, most common in cats, is referred to as a linear foreign body.

  • The patella connects the femur and the tibia and is normally located in a groove called the trochlear groove found at the end of the femur. A luxating patella is a kneecap that 'pops out' or moves out of its normal location. The patella will luxate or slip out of the groove during extension of the leg if the trochlear groove is too shallow, if the cat is bow-legged or cow-hocked, or if the point of attachment on the tibia is off-center. There are 4 grades of patellar luxation, and a higher grade means that the condition is more severe. Your veterinarian will diagnose a luxating patella by feeling the displaced kneecap during palpation of the leg. A luxating patella can be corrected surgically, especially if the patella luxates frequently. If your veterinarian performs surgery before arthritis or other knee injury occurs, the prognosis is excellent.

  • If the nerves to the colon do not function normally, the muscles of the colonic wall will not contract properly. The muscles then become stretched and the colon enlarges in diameter. Rather than being pushed into the rectum in a normal manner, fecal material accumulates in the distended colon, resulting in severe constipation called obstipation. This massive enlargement of the colon and the resulting constipation is called megacolon. Megacolon is often treatable using a medical approach but some cases require surgical intervention called subtotal colectomy.

  • Muscle tears are direct or indirect traumatic injuries that cause damage to the architecture of the muscle tissue. The most common cause is an indirect injury, or strain, caused by overstretching during athletic activities, such as running or jumping. Clinical signs of muscle tears include pain on palpation of the injured area, lameness or limping, swelling of the muscle, and/or bruising. Muscle tears are treated immediately with rest, cold compresses, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. In the most severe cases, surgery is likely required.

  • Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign idiopathic masses originating from the middle ear that extend either down the eustachian tube or into the external ear. They can cause stertor, nasal discharge, otitis, otic discharge and head tilt. Diagnosis may involve visualization through otoscopic exam or behind the soft palate, but usually needs radiographic evidence or more advanced imaging such as CT or MRI. Treatment involves debulking the mass through traction which has a high rate of recurrence, or more advanced surgery into the bulla to remove the source of the polyp.

  • 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.