Feline spay problems

Written by savannah raine
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Feline spay problems
Spaying is a short surgical procedure, usually about 30 to 45 minutes. (cat image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com)

Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the complete removal of the female reproductive tract, including ovaries, oviducts, uterine horns and body of the uterus. It eliminates cats' heat cycles and prevents pregnancy. Its other benefits include elimination of certain behaviour problems such as constant attempts to escape outdoors while in heat, a lower risk of mammary cancer and non-existent risk of tumours and infections of the reproductive tract. Overall, most spaying procedures are successful with few, if any, complications. Generally, the benefits of spaying far outweigh the risks.

Lumps or Swelling at Operation Site

Large lumps or swelling at the operation site are frequent occurrences, attributable to a number of causes. Seromas (fluid-filled pouches) usually occur when veterinarians leave too much of a gap, called "dead space," between the cat's abdominal wall muscles and skin. Abscesses occur when seromas become infected. Hernias may be small and inconsequential or large and life-threatening, depending on what migrates into the area. Inflammatory swelling and scar tissue thickening are the body's normal reactions to cleaning up dead cells and debris left over after the operation. Subcutaneous (internal) stitches can sometimes be felt under the skin but they're not abnormal or dangerous. All lumps and swellings, however, should be examined by a veterinarian.

Stitches and Wound Breakdown

The partial or complete breakdown of external sutures (stitches) is moderately common. It can result in an open, rotten-looking fleshy hole in the cat's abdominal skin. It usually results from poor home care---cats allowed to lick the suture line or pull sutures out, allowed to over-exercise or roam outdoors or get wet. Some cats develop allergic-type inflammatory reactions to the type of suture used. In mild cases, veterinarians leave the sutures in until the main wound heals. In rare cases, wound breakdown signifies a healing disorder. Depending on cause, wound breakdown can require antibiotics and/or surgery.

Wound Infection

This occurs when bacterial organisms gain access to the incision site, multiplying there in large numbers. This triggers a secondary immune system attack, resulting in inflammation and pus build-up, the result of white blood cells trying to clean up the area. Yellow-green purulent discharge oozes from suture holes or the incision line, possibly creating an abscess. Wound infection is very common and mostly attributable to poor home care. Mild cases require antibiotics and a head cone to prevent licking. Severe cases need surgery to repair and clean the wound.

Kidney Failure

Cats can develop renal (kidney) failure if their blood pressure drops below certain critical levels during anaesthesia. Kidneys require a certain pressure of blood moving through them to receive enough nutrients and oxygen to stay functional and alive. Renal failure can also develop as a result of certain anesthetic or pain-killer drugs. Pre-existing kidney disease can become aggravated by spaying procedures. Certain cat breeds, including Persians and Abyssinians, are prone to a range of congenital renal defects and spaying may push their kidneys over the edge. Many cats with severe, acute renal failure never recover.

Anesthetic Death

Rarely, young and seemingly healthy cats die during spay surgery. Sometimes their deaths can be attributed to such things as eating rat poison that no one knew about prior to surgery, an acute fatal reaction to an anesthetic drug, or the inhalation of their vomit upon recovery. Veterinarians assume but sometimes cannot prove a pre-existing disease, a sudden fatal heart arrhythmia, a drug reaction, stroke or blood clot entering the lungs or heart. According to Petplace.com, "The overall risk of this surgery in a healthy young cat is very low. While there are no published statistics, the risk of death is probably less than 1 in 500."

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