Surgical wound repair in cats

Surgical wound repair in cats is a common procedure and includes using stitches, staples, and other healing methods. Wounds in cats can range from small, shallow wounds to larger, deeper wounds. Different techniques are needed for repair, depending on the type of wound.

Wounds in cats are common and can develop due to a variety of causes, such as bites from other cats, road traffic accidents, and burns. Surgical wound repair, also known as surgical wound management, is often called a stitch-up, as most commonly sutures are used. Sedation or general anaesthesia is usually required for surgical wound repair.


What it’s for

Why is surgical wound repair needed in cats?

Surgical wound repair in cats plays a crucial role in the healing process of all different kinds of wounds, such as puncture wounds, lacerations, abscesses and various others. Stitches, staples or surgical glue may be used to close wounds. Some wounds can be left open to heal, but many wounds heal more quickly and effectively when closed via surgical techniques.

Other reasons why surgical wound repair is needed include:

  • Prevention of infection and control of bleeding
  • Reducing pain or discomfort
  • To minimise scarring


How it’s done

How is surgical wound repair done in cats?

For surgical wound repair, cats are usually admitted to the vet practice for the day:

  • You bring your cat into the vet practice, usually first thing in the morning. They get a physical exam by a vet, then are given a comfortable kennel for the day.
  • They are given sedation or anaesthetic medication, depending on the procedure.
  • The wound is thoroughly cleaned and any foreign material or dead tissue is removed.
  • The wound is then stitched together; this might be in multiple layers.
  • If the wound is very large or there is not enough skin to pull together, different techniques may be used, such as skin grafts, flaps and tension relieving sutures.
  • A drain may be placed if help is needed to remove excess fluid
  • Once the procedure has finished, your cat is slowly woken up and monitored until they are safe to go home.

The exception to this is if your cat only needs a couple of staples; this can sometimes be done in a consultation without any sedation or GA. However, this is not common.

Many wound repairs are done out of hours as an emergency, but the steps are very similar.


surgical wound repair in cats
Healing wound with stitches

How to prepare your cat for surgical wound repair

Keep the wound as clean and dry as possible, and prevent your cat and other pets from licking at it.

If your cat needs sedation or a general anaesthetic (GA), they will likely need to be starved for 12 hours beforehand.


Why your cat needs sedation/GA for surgical wound repair

Sedation or GA are important for several reasons:

  • To relax your cat if they get stressed or anxious at the vet clinic.
  • To prevent movement. It allows your vet to thoroughly clean the wound and perform surgery with better precision, giving a better chance of a good outcome.
  • Wound cleaning, stitches, or any other type of surgery are painful. Medications used for sedation or anaesthesia provide additional pain relief properties.



How much does it cost for a stitch-up in cats?

The cost of surgical wound repair can vary depending on the following factors:

  • Geographical location
  • If your cat is seen as an emergency, out of hours, or during normal business hours
  • How severe the wound is and the type of surgery needed. Staples are often quicker, so they tend to be less expensive than other techniques such as skin grafts, drains and extensive suture repair.
  • Sedation and GA costs include monitoring equipment, extra staff, and specific medication. This often starts at around £100-200 or more, depending on how long the procedure lasts.
  • Other costs to consider include bandaging, antibiotics and pain relief to go home with.



Is surgical wound repair in cats safe?

Surgical wound repair in cats is generally a safe procedure. Sedation and general anaesthesia are also considered low-risk in most cats. Complications can happen, but they are not common.

The main risks of surgical wound repair are:

  • Wound infection
  • Wound breakdown
  • Bleeding


Recovery tips

How to help your cat after surgical wound repair

In most cases, your cat will come home on the same day they had surgical wound repair. It’s important to closely monitor them for anything abnormal. Most cats are back to their normal selves within 24-48 hours, but they will normally need to rest for longer.

  • Your cat may be more vocal or restless compared to normal.
  • Make sure they have a comfortable and quiet area to rest and sleep.
  • Reduce exercise for as long as instructed. This is extremely important to help healing.
  • Give any medication as advised by your vet.
  • Monitor the surgical wound for discharge or swelling and prevent self-trauma (licking) at all times.


When to worry

When should you be worried about surgical wound repair in cats?

Seek help from a vet if:

  • Your cat has breathing problems or is collapsed after surgery
  • Your cat’s wound is smelly, swollen or has pus
  • Your cat is in pain after surgery

Call us and speak to one of our Joii vets if:

  • Your cat has a minor wound
  • You need any advice on keeping your cat mentally stimulated during rest
  • You have any questions about sedation or general anaesthesia in cats
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