Oral Surgery in Cats

Why does my cat need oral surgery?

Cats need oral surgery to remove growths, repair oral defects, fix jaw fractures and in many cases remove teeth to relieve pain. 

Some cats are acutely sensitive to the plaque that accumulates on their teeth. This sensitivity shows as swollen gums and inflammation. In cases that have been going on for a while and those that are not responsive to daily brushing, extraction of the teeth results in a cure without further care in 60% of the cases, and in 80% of cases, additional medication after extraction is curative.

No one knows what causes tumors to form in cat’s mouths.  If they are caught early, complete removal can be curative.  Some growths require small incisions to remove, while for others part of the jaw is removed. When the growth is malignant further therapy is usually required.

Oral mass under the tongue


Above: Oral mass under the tongue; Below: After surgery.


Does the surgery need to be done by an oral surgeon?

There are board certified veterinary dentists (avdc.org) that are specially trained in oral surgical procedures, as well as general veterinary surgeons (acvs.org) to help.  Your veterinarian will let you know if he or she is comfortable handling your cat’s problem.  If not, referral to a nearby board certified veterinary dentist or surgeon would be discussed.

Is oral surgery safe for my cat?cat_anesthetic2

Anesthesia is necessary for oral surgery.  This allows the surgeon to remove the oral mass or repair the fractured jaw while the cat is immobilized and out of pain.  Before anesthesia is delivered, tests are performed to determine the best type of anesthesia for the patient and procedure.  The cat also will be closely monitored during and after the procedure.


Will my cat be in pain?

Both local and general anesthesia will be used to decrease discomfort.  The same narcotic medications used in people are given to cats.  Anti-inflammatory medication is also administered to decrease swelling and inflammation after surgery.

How will my cat eat after surgery?

Thanks to pain relief medications most cats do not even know they had surgery. Most cats will eat the day of surgery or soon after. Feeding soft food is recommended until healing is complete.


This client information sheet is based on material written by: Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP

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