After orthopedic surgery, your feline friend will need lots of love and at-home care to get back to living their best life. Today, our Brighton vet team will tell you about orthopedic surgery for cats and more about their recovery afterward.
Cats who have issues affecting their legs or other limbs, jaws, joints, and other skeletal structures often undergo veterinary orthopedic surgery. These procedures cover a wide range of conditions from broken bones to cancer and some types of infectious disease and can include installing implants to stabilize your cat's healing bone, or amputation of a painful, diseased or damaged limb.
Surgery For Broken Bones In Cats
Depending on factors like the location and severity of the broken bone, fracture repair surgery often addresses the problem and the pet is able to return to their normal life with little to no problem. That said, healing from orthopedic surgery can be a long process – for adult cats, a broken bone can take from 6 – 12 weeks to heal properly.
After your cat's surgery, monitor them closely for complications like:
- Lingering or continuing pain
- Infection (signs include swelling, overly warm to the touch, or presence of excess fluid)
- Surgical implant failure
Monitor Incision Healing
At a minimum, you should be prepared to closely monitor your cat's incision for the first 10 – 14 days after your cat's procedure.
Once your vet has determined that the incision is properly healed, they will give you guidelines on gradually increasing your cat's activity over the appropriate amount of time needed to recover from their particular procedure.
Some cats may also need to have a splint, cast, or bandage placement after surgery.
Your veterinarian will give you instructions about changing your cat's bandages; make sure you understand the guidelines and don't hesitate to ask questions. If bandages are left too long or taken off too soon, it can lead to poor healing outcomes for your pet. Issues like pressure sores, poor blood flow to the healing tissues, and infection are some of the complications that can arise from improper bandage changing.
Follow-Up Appointments & Post-Surgery X-rays
Cats who have had orthopedic surgery, whether it is to address broken bones, illness, or other conditions, will need X-rays after their procedures. These follow-up examinations and diagnostic images can help to make sure there are no signs of infection or inflamed areas in healing bone and surgical implants. It's a good idea to schedule your cat's follow-up appointments with your vet when your pet has been discharged to go home with you.
Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO) & Hip Joint Amputations
Major surgeries such as femoral head ostectomy (FHO), which involves removing the ball of your cat's hip joint, or amputation or hip joints, are procedures that can be very stressful for your cat and are usually only recommended if there is no other less invasive option for treatment of injury or illness. Your animal friend will be dependent on you and their vet team to help them heal fully.
These surgeries affect a large area of your cat's body, so it is imperative that the incision is watched closely for swelling and discharge. There is a potential for systemic infection in feline surgery patients due to complications like seromas, which can turn into abscesses. For this reason, following your vet's advice and closely monitoring your cat can go a long way to aiding their swift and safe recovery.
As with soft tissue surgery aftercare, your cat's movements and activities should be limited, as should the incision site(s) and your pet's overall mood and behavior. Your kitty could also benefit from physical therapy if there is concern about them losing muscle mass.
Regardless of whether or not your cat is using their limb with little trouble and appears to be recuperating fine - irritation and infection is still possible even with successful implants, so it is important to go back to your veterinarian for your pet's follow-up appointments. Your vet will be able to assess the recovery in your cat, treat any complications, and give you further instructions to help your feline friend along the road to feeling much better.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.