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Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • The ductus arteriosus is an arterial shunt between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart defect that occurs when the ductus arteriosus fails to close down at birth. If the ductus arteriosus fails to close properly after birth, the difference in pressure between the pulmonary artery and the aorta means that the blood will take the path of least resistance and flow from the aorta through the patent ductus arteriosus into the pulmonary artery, needlessly recirculating this oxygenated blood back to the lungs. The larger the PDA is, the more blood will be shunted through it, causing more significant signs. A PDA will usually be diagnosed when your veterinarian hears a continuous heart murmur during a routine physical examination of your kitten. The goal of treatment for a forward flowing PDA is to stop the blood flowing through the shunt. Your veterinarian will refer you to a veterinary cardiovascular surgeon, who will determine the optimal treatment for your cat. Provided that the condition is treated before heart failure develops, the success rate associated with surgical closure is very high and the prognosis for a normal life after surgery is excellent.

  • Penetrating wounds can look minor on the surface but may cause severe injury below the skin. A thorough assessment requires sedation or anesthesia and surgery may be required to address the extent of the injury. This handout outlines first aid steps a pet owner can take while transporting their injured pet to the veterinary hospital.

  • A Penrose drain is a latex tube placed into a wound with one or two ends exiting the skin to passively remove unwanted fluid, usually from abscesses or open wounds. This handout provides post-operative wound care instructions for cats sent home with a Penrose drain.

  • A perineal hernia is a protrusion of tissue through the muscle of the perineum. Potential causes, clinical signs, and treatment are explained. The prognosis ranges from good to poor, depending on the ability to perform surgery and the pet's response to surgery. Perineal hernias have the potential to be life-threatening.

  • A perineal urethrostomy (PU) is a surgical procedure that is most commonly performed on male cats with a urinary obstruction. Male cats develop urinary obstructions much more readily than female cats, due to differences in urinary tract anatomy between the two sexes. A PU creates a new urinary opening that decreases the length of the urethra and allows urine to bypass this narrowed region. Less commonly, PU may also be performed in cats with severe urethral trauma. After surgery, your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent self-trauma to the surgical site.

  • When your cat comes home after an operation, special care must be taken to ensure he remains indoors with restricted activity and cannot lick or chew at his incision site. Monitor your cat for abnormal signs and contact your veterinarian if any are observed.

  • Pyometra is a serious and life-threatening infection in the uterus, occurring in female cats who have not been spayed. The condition must be treated quickly and aggressively. The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries by performing an ovariohysterectomy. There is a medical approach to treating pyometra, although the success rate is highly variable and not without considerable risk and potential long-term complications. 

  • Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Some purebred cats are more at risk, but it can affect any cat and is believed to be an inherited trait. Diagnosis can usually be made by palpation but sometimes requires blood testing or abdominal ultrasound if the cat’s history is unknown. Risks of retained testicles include testicular cancer, spermatic cord torsion, and the development of undesirable male characteristics, so neutering is strongly recommended. Surgery is generally routine, and recovery is similar to any abdominal surgery.

  • Cats scratch and claw for several reasons: scratching serves to shorten and condition the claws, scratching allows an effective, whole body stretch, and cats scratch to mark their territory. There is usually a non-surgical solution to scratching issues.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a tumor of the cells that make up the contact or upper layer of the skin. UV light exposure has been described as a developmental factor in people and appears to be associated with its development in cats. Areas affected include the ear tips, skin, toes, or peri-ocular region. Fine needle aspiration or biopsy may be performed for diagnosis. The metastatic rate does not appear overly clear, though staging is always recommended. SCC of the toe can occur as a primary tumor or may have spread from the lung (lung-digit syndrome). Surgery is almost always recommended in any case of SCC; the role of chemotherapy is controversial. Radiation therapy has an excellent response rate in cats with the SCC affecting the nasal planum and may give long-term tumor control.