Only cat owners know how finicky and independent their feline friends can be. They also know how much joy these creatures bring into their lives. When cats become ill or injured, their owners want nothing more than to see them healthy and happy again.

Cats are resilient animals and often recover quickly from minor injuries and illnesses. But sometimes, they require surgery to return to good health, even needing a pet emergency clinic. Here’s an overview of six of the most common surgeries performed on cats.

1. Spaying and Neutering

Most veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering cats between the ages of four and six months. Spaying is the surgical removal of a female cat’s ovaries and uterus. This procedure prevents them from becoming pregnant and having kittens. Neutering is the surgical removal of a male cat’s testicles, preventing them from fathering kittens.

Also, spaying and neutering have health benefits for cats. For example, spayed females are less likely to develop mammary cancer, and neutered males are less likely to develop testicular cancer.

Generally, these procedures are performed under general anesthesia and take about 15 to 45 minutes. For instance, the cat neuter procedure involves making a small incision in the scrotum to remove the testicles.

After surgery, cats usually go home the same day. They may be groggy from the anesthesia, but they typically recover quickly and are back to normal within a few days.

2. Declawing

Although declawing is a controversial topic, it is still a common surgical procedure performed on cats. The procedure involves removing the last bone and nail of each toe. This is typically done on the front paws only, although some owners opt to have all four paws done.

Many cat owners choose to declaw their cats because they are concerned about scratching furniture or themselves. Others do it for hygiene reasons, especially if the cat is elderly or has diabetes.

Most cats adjust well to being declawed and can still walk, run, and jump normally. However, some may experience behavioral changes, such as increased biting or litter box avoidance.

3. Neurotomy or Gastronomy

A neurotomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the nerves that supply the claws. This permanently prevents the cat from extending its claws. On the other hand, Gastronomy is a procedure that involves removing the entire claw.

Vet surgeons use general anesthesia on these procedures and take about 30 minutes per paw. Afterward, cats stay at the vet overnight for observation and pain management. Most can go home the next day.

As with declawing, neurotomy and gastronomy are major surgeries. Cats are typically put on pain medication and have their paws wrapped in bandages for a few days after the procedure. Full recovery is up to two weeks.

While these procedures may not be right for every cat, they can be a good option for those who scratch furniture or people. Talk to your veterinarian about whether neurotomy or gastronomy is right for your pet and what other options are available if it isn’t.

4. Dental Procedures

Cats require dental care just like humans do. Over time, their teeth can become stained, cracked, or even decay. If left untreated, dental issues can result in pain and infection.

The most common dental procedure performed on cats is tooth cleaning. This involves tartar and plaque removal from the teeth using special instruments. A tooth cleaning is typically performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour.

Afterward, cats stay at the vet overnight for observation. Most can go home the next day. It’s important to note that dental procedures are major surgeries. Cats are typically put on pain medication and have their mouths wrapped in gauze for a few days after the procedure. 

5. Fracture Repairs

Cats can break their bones just like humans can. If your cat has a broken bone, it will need to be treated by a veterinarian. The most common treatment is surgery.

Like other major surgeries, fracture repairs are typically performed under general anesthesia. After the procedure, cats stay at the vet overnight for observation. 

The healing time for a broken bone can vary depending on the fracture type and where it is located. For example, a fractured femur (thigh bone) will take longer to heal than a fractured toe. In most cases, cats need to be restricted from activity for four to six weeks while the bone heals.

6. Mast Removals

Mast removals involve the surgical removal of mast cell tumors. These are the most common type of skin tumors in cats. They can be benign or malignant. Your vet will then send the removed tissue to a laboratory for analysis.

If it’s determined that the tumor is benign, no further treatment is typically necessary. If it’s determined to be malignant, your cat may need to undergo additional treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy.

The Bottom Line

There are times when your cat needs surgery, no matter how healthy you think they are. While some surgeries are more common than others, they are major procedures that require careful consideration.

If your cat needs surgery, talk to your veterinarian about all available options. This helps you decide on your pet’s health and well-being. Choose a reputable full-service animal hospital that can provide all necessary care before, during, and after your cat’s surgery.