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Postoperative Complications in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Surgery is commonly performed on animals to treat injury and illness, such as excision of tumors or foreign objects, repair of broken bones or lacerations, and repair of torn ligaments or hernias. Though there are a wide variety of reasons for surgery, all surgeries have one thing in common: an incision – a cut into the skin to gain access to the area in need of repair.

After surgery has been completed and the animal has successfully recovered, complete recovery is not assured until the incision has completely healed. An uncomplicated incision usually heals within 7 – 10 days, and during that time, careful monitoring is necessary.

Most incisions are surgically sutured with more than one layer of stitches; this depends on the type of surgery and the depth of the wound. As with many surgeries that require multiple layers, there is typically an initial strong closure of deep tissues. Second, a middle layer of sutures is placed in order to bring the edges of the skin closer together (subcutaneous sutures). Finally, sutures are placed on the exterior to also help bring the edges of the skin together (skin sutures). The skin sutures are the only layer visible in a normal healing incision.

While the animal is recovering at home, pay close attention to the incision. In addition to infections and swelling, sutures may become loose or the pet may chew at them. Immediate and appropriate care for any incisional complications will help hasten recovery and prevent additional, more severe postoperative complications.

Watch for:

  • Excessive licking or chewing at sutures
  • Swelling at the site of the incision
  • Discharge or bleeding from the incision
  • Sutures falling out or missing
  • Any tissue protruding from incision



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