Preparing a cat for "Spay" surgery.
How to Prepare Your Cat for Surgery
If you own a cat the chances are he or she will need surgery at least once it their life – for neutering. However, from neutering to trauma surgery to lump removals, there are many times when your pet may need surgery. Preparing your cat properly for surgery is a crucial part of minimizing risk on the day.
Pre-Op Preparation: The Night Before
Know when to withhold food from your cat.If your older kitten or healthy adult cat is having either sedation or a general anesthetic, then she needs to be starved for at least 12 hours before the surgery. If your cat is younger than 4 months old, has health problems or conditions or is taking medications, check with your veterinarian before withholding food.
- This is because when asleep under anesthetic the cat loses the ability to swallow.Thus if the sphincter (valve) guarding the entrance to the stomach relaxes under anesthetic, the pet may vomit whilst asleep and breathe in the vomit at the back of her throat.
- This is highly likely to cause a serious pneumonia and is entirely avoidable by making sure her stomach is empty prior to the procedure.
Do not feed your cat past 10 PM the night before the surgery.If the cat is being admitted the following morning, all food must be removed at bedtime (10-11 pm) the night before.
- It is fine to let her have access to drinking water overnight, but you should also take this away at breakfast time (7 am) the day of surgery.
Consider other cats you may have in your household.Taking food away sounds simple – you just pick up the bowl and make sure no one else in the family feeds the pet by mistake – but in practice it can be more complicated than this.
- For instance, in a multi-cat household your options are to starve all the cats in the house for one night, or to confine the cat going for surgery to one room and give her a litter tray.
- If you think the cat will become stressed if she is not allowed free range of the home, consider asking the vet if she can be dropped at the clinic the night before.
- She may well settle there just fine, because she is wrong-footed by not being on home territory. It also means she is not traveling on the day of surgery and may be happier for this.
Make sure all family members know the cat is not to be fed.A hungry cat is a convincing cat when it comes to persuading people to feed her. Also,remember to keep the cat indoors so she can't go and beg from neighbors.
Make sure your cat can’t get outside.It is a good idea to lock the cat flap overnight. It is a story familiar to many veterinarians that the cat disappeared out through the flap on the morning of the op.
- Make sure all family members know why the flap is locked, so that no-one falls sucker to a mournful cry from a bewildered puss first thing in the morning.
- Other factors include whether the cat hunts or not. If she is likely to go and hunt down her own supper then she must be kept indoors overnight so this cannot happen.
- In a multi-cat household, again, this may require preventing all the cats from going outside. If this is impossible then speak to the vet clinic and see if it is possible to drop the cat off the night before, to stay in a hospital bed.
- Although the one cat may not be best pleased, at least it prevents the rest of the household's cats from becoming stressed.
Prepare the cat carrier the night before.Where possible, prepare the cat carrier the night before (or even earlier than this). This allows you to check if it is serviceable and gives you time to make any repairs to broken straps or hinges in time for the morning when it is needed.
Pre-Op Preparation: The Morning of the Surgery
Remove your cat’s water supply.Plan to remove water first thing, about 7 am. Water passes out of the stomach much more quickly than food and does not pose the same risk if removed 2 to 3 hours beforehand.
- There is no advantage to taking away water the night before, indeed this is not advisable because the cat may go to surgery slightly dehydrated and this can decrease the blood supply to her kidneys and cause damage.
Line the cat carrier if you have not already done so.Not all cats travel well so prepare for "accidents" and line the bottom of the carrier with absorbent material such as a puppy pad or newspaper.
- Put bedding or a T-shirt in the carrier for the cat to snuggle up to. It helps if the bedding has a familiar, comforting smell such as a piece of clothing that belongs to you.
Consider using Feliway.Feliway is a synthetic version of the feline pheromone that makes kittens feel safe and secure. It is available as a room diffuser, or a spray for pet bedding.
- When breathed in it gradually reassures the cat and gives her the message that this is a safe place and there is nothing to worry about.
- Consider spritzing the bedding with Feliway prior to travel to try to decrease the cat's stress levels.
Put your cat into her carrier.Ideally, leave the carrier out for weeks before hand, as an inviting den to sleep in. However, failing this you may need to insert the cat into the box, which can be tricky.
- The element of surprise works well. Have the carrier door open in preparation, pick the cat up and swiftly place her into the box and close the door. However, once the cat is forewarned she is more likely to resist.
- Some cats object to going in head first, because they perceive they are being forced into a dark place. Try inserting them bottom first. To do this, if you are right-handed, thread your left arm under the cat's belly so her head is near your elbow and her tail near your hand.
- Gently grasp both back legs in your left hand, so that she can't splay her legs out, and put her into the box backwards (for a front opening box). This works well for the majority of cats.
Pre-plan your route to the vet’s office.Secure the cat carrier into the car by looping the seat belt through the handle and anchoring it. Know the route you need to take to get to the clinic, and allow extra time for school traffic and the like. Better to arrive early and calm than late and stressed, as the cat will pick up on your anxiety.
Considering Other Factors
Talk to your veterinarian about what you should do about your cat’s medication.If your cat is on medication, either long-term medication such as pain relief, or short-term such as antibiotics, ask your veterinarian whether the medication should be given or withheld on the morning of the surgery.
Tell your veterinarian when the last dose was given.Some medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers, e.g. metacam, must not be given on an empty stomach. Thus they should never be given on the morning of surgery because the animal needs to be starved.
- However, these drugs are often effective for 24 hours so if the cat had a dose the previous evening, tell the veterinarian.
- This is important because pain relief is a big part of modern anesthesia and many clinics routinely give a pain relieving injection as part of the pre-med protocol.
- Your clinic is highly likely to be aware your cat is on meds, but it does no harm to reinforce this since an extra dose could have harmful side effects.
Withhold your cat’s medications.If, for example, the cat is due an antibiotic on the morning of the surgery, alert the clinic that she has not had the tablet. This allows them to give that day's dose by injection, if necessary.
Check with your veterinarian if your cat is diabetic.Ask if she needs any special treatment or if you should continue giving her food and insulin as normal. The clinic should give you clear instructions about how to give food, water and insulin to your cat on the morning of the procedure.
Make yourself available while your cat is having surgery.The clinic will ask for a contact phone number. Make sure that you are fully available at all times on that contact number.
- The vet may need to speak to you about something simple like if it's okay to implant an ID chip, or it could important information such as a discovery made during surgical investigation.
- If the vet cannot reach you, he won't be able to act. If you are not contactable, the vet will not have consent for any procedures not covered on the consent form.
- This could mean the cat has to wake up, only to need another anesthetic at a later date for a procedure that could have been sorted out there and then.
- Elective neutering is usually performed on fit, young animals, but some procedures, such as lump removals, may be performed on older cats that are on medication.
- Don't bath your cat immediately after surgery.
Video: Spay/Neuter Patient Care: Patient Prep - Feline
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