Orthopedic Surgery for Cats

Your cat hates it, but the cone collar keeps him from licking his incision.
i Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Fixing fractured bones, removing damaged vertebrae and repairing torn muscles are forms of orthopedic surgeries. While these procedures are routine in animal hospitals, it's a pretty big event for your kitty. Preparing your cat for surgery and closely adhering to post-operational instructions helps him recover from the operation quickly.

Types of Surgery

Technically, orthopedic surgery is any that involves bones, joints, muscles or ligaments. Pinning, fixation and plating are common techniques that veterinary surgeons apply to mend damaged bones. They attach metal structure to the bone to keep it in place while it heals. Bones can take months to recover their original strength. Problems with the knee joint -- a dislocated knee cap, for instance -- often require orthopedic surgery to fix. Orthopedic surgery reattaches ligaments and muscles.


Your cat will be anesthetized before the operation starts. He won't feel pain or be conscious at all during the surgery. Your pet's surgeon may take X-rays in the hours immediately prior to surgery to get an updated look at your pet's injury. He may also test your pet for allergies to the anesthesia just to ensure the cat will be okay during the procedure. Your pet may need to stay in the hospital overnight depending on how extensive the operation was and how he reacted to the anesthesia.

Preoperative Care

When you schedule orthopedic surgery with an animal hospital or clinic, ask for a copy of presurgery instructions. If your pet is scheduled for surgery in the morning, don't feed him anything after about 6 o'clock the night before. Your vet may ask you to cut off his water supply at some point later in the night. Don't give your cat any medication in the days before surgery without clearing it with your vet. Supplements and medication may react with the anesthesia and painkillers used in the operation.

Postoperative Care

When you rescue your pet from the hands of the animal hospital staff, he may not act as grateful as you would expect. If he's recently woken up from anesthesia, he probably has no idea who you are or what's happening to him. Hold his carrier level and try not to speed on your way home. Give your cat a small, quiet place where he can be alone. A spare bathroom or large crate work well. Administer a dose of pain medication before bed or on the next morning, according to your vet's instructions. Offer your cat a little food and water, but don't be surprised if he refuses meals in favor of sleeping. Contact the animal hospital if your kitty starts throwing up or if he still refuses food 24 hours after you bring him home.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest