What You Need to Know Before Your
Many people have questions about various aspects of their cat's surgery, and we hope this information will help.
It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your cat's upcoming surgery. We encourage you to speak with Dr. Flatley or our Certified Veterinary Technician to address any concerns you have prior to the day of your cat's surgery.
How safe is it for my cat to go under anesthesia?
Today's modern anesthetic techniques have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at The Fox Valley Cat Clinic, we do a thorough physical exam on your cat before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. Specific medications are tailored to the health of your cat. Preanesthetic blood testing is strongly encouraged to reduce the risk of anesthesia. Blood work is sent to an offsite laboratory for analysis. We recommend every cat have blood testing before surgery to ensure that their liver and kidneys can tolerate the anesthetic. Even apparently healthy cats can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. Cats that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery may be postponed or alternatives discussed. Individual circumstances will vary depending on your unique cat. For geriatric or ill cats, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
It is important that surgery is done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for your cat until the morning of surgery. The clinic will call you to remind you to withhold food the day prior to the scheduled procedure.
Will my cat have stitches?
Depending on your cat's specific procedure, we may use skin sutures that are visible and do not dissolve on their own. These sutures will need to be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery at no charge. You will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to monitor for. If your cat cannot leave the incision alone, then they will need either a baby onsie or an E-collar to prevent this. It is extremely important to limit your cat's activity level for a time after surgery and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after the procedure. Before your cat leaves the clinic, our Certified Veterinary Technician will discuss specific discharge instruction as appropriate for your cat's procedure.
Will my cat be in pain?
Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. Cats may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than minor procedures.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, all pain medications for cats must be prescribed and dispensed by a Veterinarian. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. For some procedures, we administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. For all declaws and other surgeries, the cats will get a transdermal pain-relieving patch that is kept on for 5 days following surgery. In most cases, if they are not sent home with a patch, then an injectable pain medication is given during the procedure which lasts for 2-3 days. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. You will be asked to closely monitor your cat after it returns home for signs of pain; decreased appetite, hiding, vocalizing, hesitancy to accept touch, and lethargy.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your cat is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like pricing information for additional procedures, inquire at the time you schedule surgery. An itemized estimate will be created and explained. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the cat's care.
When you bring your cat in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions other options available. Additional options include the placement of an IV catheter during the procedure, monitoring of blood pressure, and radiographs when appropriate. When you pick up your cat after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your cat's home care needs.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your cat off and to answer any questions you might have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your cat's health or surgery.
What is microchipping?
A small microchip (about the size of a grain of rice), when placed below the skin, will act as a permanent means of identification should your cat every be lost or stolen. The microchip, once placed, will remain active for the rest of your cat's life. You will be responsible to register your cat and their chip number with the company who manufactures the microchip. Once registered, the company will use the information the you have provided as a means to contact you in the event that your cat is found and scanned. Most clinics and rescues/humane societies, as well as law enforcement agencies, have the ability to scan a lost pet and retrieve the microchip identifying number.
Microchips are highly recommended for any cat that is allowed outdoors and/or a cat that likes to sneak out through an open door.
When is it appropriate to perform this procedure?
Although it is possible to perform this surgery any time during a cat's life, Dr. Flatley will not perform a Declaw on any cat over 3 years of age. As a cat ages and grows, more weight is placed on the paws which can greatly prolong recovery time. We strongly recommend that it be performed as early in a cat's life as safely possible, usually at the same time of spay or neuter, which is as early as 4 months of age. The benefit to this is the one time use of anesthesia, versus two.
What is the surgery?
Declaw surgery is the removal of the bit of bone in your cat's toe (the last phalanx) where the cells that create the claw or toenail originate. The removal of this bone results in the inability of the toenail to re-grow and form claws.
There is some pain associated with this surgery; therefore, we use an injectable pain medication with this procedure. All declaws will have a Fentanyl pain patch applied during surgery. This will deliver the pain medication continuously for up to 5 days after the declaw is performed.
Your cat's feet will be bandaged following the procedure to control any bleeding and provide a cushioned pad during his or her overnight hospital stay. These bandages are usually removed the following morning, and the surgery sites are checked before your cat is released from the hospital. Surgical glue is used to close the incisions, so there is no suture removal required.
We will provide you with a special type of litter to be used for the first 10-14 days when your cat goes home. We recommend that you use this litter in place of your regular litter so that the clay or sand doesn't get stuck in the incisions and cause infection.
Your cat should be kept in a small, confined area for the first 10-14 days under restricted activity and monitored for any amount of bleeding. The younger/smaller the cat usually the quicker the recovery time.