Illustrated Articles

Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • Ear hematomas are a collection of blood, either fresh or clotted, within the pinna. Excessive or violent shaking causes one or more blood vessels to break, resulting in bleeding into the space between the ear cartilage and skin on the inner surface of the ear. There is often an underlying cause which must be treated but additionally, surgery or drainage should be done to help relieve discomfort. Failure to treat will lead to a misshapen ear caused by damage from inflammation.

  • 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 surgery is a procedure that generates a beam of light energy at a specific wavelength, resulting in the cutting of tissues. There are three major advantages of laser surgery when compared to traditional stainless steel surgical scalpels, which are decreased pain, decreased inflammation, and improved tissue healing. Routine procedures such as ovariohysterectomy and castration are commonly done with laser.

  • One especially dangerous type of foreign body in cats is referred to as a linear foreign body. This term describes long, thin objects such as string, yarn, and tinsel. If one end of the linear foreign body becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, intestinal perforation may occur. The most common signs of a linear foreign body include vomiting, anorexia (refusal to eat), dehydration, and lethargy. If your veterinarian suspects a linear foreign body, your cat will need an exploratory laparotomy.

  • 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.