Owners of cats who have a routine spay (ovariohysterectomy) surgery often ask if they should be concerned about a lump in the incision area. They are concerned that post-operative swelling is not normal.
If you have any questions about your pet's care after surgery or any time your pet is not well, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet is the only one who knows your pet and its medical history.
It is better to call sooner rather than later.
Surgical Closure of the Incision
For traditional abdominal surgeries, most vets do what is called a three-layer closure. The first innermost layer is the strength layer. This closure is sutured up the body wall. The second layer is the subcutaneous layer, the connective tissue, and fat between the body wall and skin. The final layer, the one everyone sees, is the skin closure.
Pets often lick or chew at the suture line. Some animals do it only a few times, while other animals are obsessive about it, possibly removing sutures in the process. Cats are particularly adept at removing sutures before the recommended 10-to-14 day time.
Many vets bury the sutures with suture material that dissolves, so there are no sutures to remove, and some vets use surgical skin glue to speed closure and healing. Your vet will give you specific post-surgery instructions upon discharge.
What Is Normal for Post-Surgical Healing?
Normal varies with the suture materials used, the doctor's technique and the patient. It is important to keep your cat from licking and chewing the incision and to keep her physically quiet with no vigorous activity during the 10-to-14 day post surgery healing time.
Any redness, painful swelling and drainage should be mentioned to your veterinarian right away, especially if your pet is listless and not eating.
A Lump Can Sometimes Be Normal
A firm, non-painful swelling under the incision that appears a few days or a week after surgery is fairly common, particularly in cats. This is the body's way of working on the sutures called a suture reaction. Some animals react, but most don't. These types of lumps can take several days or weeks to shrink to normal. If you notice a lump, call your veterinarian's office. They may want to check it out and make note of it.
When a Post-Surgery Lump Is Not OK
If you see any redness, swelling, pain or drainage from the incision, or if your pet is listless and not eating, this is serious. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible.