The Boston Cat Hospital

3840 Washington Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130




What You Need to Know Before Your Cat's Upcoming Surgery

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.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at The Boston Cat Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your cat before administering anesthetics, to ensure that fever, previously undiagnosed heart problems, marked weight loss or other illness won't be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your cat. 

Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  We recommend that every cat have pre-anesthetic blood and urine testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Pre-anesthetic blood and urine testing is mandatory for all patients over 7 years of age. Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing.  If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

It is important that surgery be 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.

Will my cat have sutures (stitches)?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin sutures.  With either type of suture, 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 watch for.  If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your cat's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery. Occasionally your cat may be discharged with an elizabethan collar to prevent premature suture removal. These collars are now designed to be soft and often "see through". You can help your cat adjust to the collar, by raising its feeding bowls to allow easier access to food and water.

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.  At The Boston Cat Hospital we strive to provide effective pain management and control.

Because cats do not tolerate medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them for pain control.  Recent advances in pain management have allowed for better pain control in cats.  We administer a pain medication by injection prior to surgery to ensure minimal discomfort during surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any patient that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.

In addition, w
e use narcotic pain patches along with injectable pain medications for some surgeries. Most cats also go home with post surgical pain medication. We believe that providing pain management is an integral part of care for your cat.

What other decisions do I need to make?

On the day of surgery, you will be asked to sign an anesthesia consent form. On the form, you will need to indicate if you give permission to provide emergency care and/or cardio-pulmonary resucitation (CPR). Should an emergency arise, we want to know in advance, what specific care you want us to give to your cat.

While your cat is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, ear cleaning,  grooming, or implanting an AVID identificiation microchip. At check in, please alert the receptionist if you would like to add on any of these procedures.