Nose jobs, tummy tucks, breast reductions, ear shaping, testicular implants and cosmetic dentistry. It reads like the line-up for a TV extreme makeover show but in fact it’s a list of cosmetic surgery procedures that can be performed on cats!
While these operations are similar in nature to those routinely performed on people, Dr. Alan Schulman DVM, Dip ACVS of the Animal Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, a specialist in animal reconstructive surgery, emphatically points out that these procedures are only carried out for necessary medical reasons to improve quality of life and not to change a typical household cat into a Hollywood glamour puss.
“It has to be a life-threatening situation to put a cat under the knife,” says Schulman “Cats are phenomenal creatures and very resilient, and although cosmetic procedures are possible, the incidence is rare.”
He points out that because all felines are more or less the same size and have the same anatomical features, they are less likely to encounter some of the problems that plague their canine friends.
“Different dog breeds are typified by size and specific features like skin folds and wrinkles. In some breeds, this causes problems around the eyes, face, body and tail areas.”
Here are options available to cat owners.
Cats that have had too many litters are often left with pendulous fat and mammary tissue. The situation is often exacerbated by a sedentary indoor lifestyle. A tummy tuck and breast reduction will remove excess fat and tissue that prevents the animal from walking, jumping and leading a normal life.
Schulman is quick to state that liposuction is not an option for pets!
Certain cat breeds like Persians, Himalayans and Angoras that have “swished faces” and flat noses can be prone to breathing problems. A nose job will enlarge the nostrils attempting to make breathing easier. However, cats with this anatomical feature are often respiratorily challenged on a number of different levels that could require further surgical investigation.
Felines are known to have a very high incidence of squamous cell carcinoma in the nose area. This type of cancer eats away the nostrils warranting surgical removal of the affected area done as cosmetically as possible.
Veterinary surgeons do not make a prosthetic snap-on nose to make everything look cosmetically normal. It’s not practical because the five-year remission period from cancer in people is equivalent to eight months in a cat. And in that time frame, the cancer could have spread elsewhere.
COSMETIC SKIN GRAFTS AND RE-SHAPING
A scratch on the face or body that appears harmless can also be an indication of skin cancer. Often, by the time it’s brought to the attention of a veterinarian, it has spread considerably, requiring surgical intervention. Veterinary reconstructive surgeons are able to cosmetically trim ears and lips and do cosmetic skin grafts on afflicted areas of the body.
Cosmetic skin grafts are also fairly common following some kind of trauma resulting from a car accident, animal attack or a burn from a car muffler. By doing muscular skeletal flaps or muscular cutaneous flaps, the surgeon takes the skin and the underlying subcutaneous tissue and muscle and mobilizes it to cover the gaping skin wounds. As a result, the fur grows back in its natural hair pattern, covering any signs of damage.
A floppy ear or one damaged as a result of trauma can be corrected by surgically implanting an FDA-approved micro thin silicone sheet or reconstructed using cartilage from the inner ear.
Previously, when a cat suffered a broken tail as a result of an accident or being run over by a car, veterinarians simply used to amputate leaving a painful stub. Now surgeons can save the tail by implanting a thin titanium implant used for human fingers and reconstruct the tail.
“This way, you are saving the tail and freeing the animal from pain and discomfort. When the hair grows back, there are no telltale any signs of an operation,” says Schulman.
In dental terms, cats have what is called a scissor bite; when the mouth is closed, the upper incisors are in front of the lower incisors. Felines have different shaped heads and those with short muzzles like Persians can suffer from maxillary canine teeth that project outwards, causing eating problems, periodontal disease and other infections.
According to certified veterinary dentist Dr. Jan Bellows DVM Dipl. AVDC of the All Pets Dental Clinic in Weston, Florida there is a full array of techniques to combat the problem including orthodontic braces, bands and retainers.
Like Schulman, Bellows point out that incidence of this type of surgery is rare in felines and reserved to treat quality of life issues.
However, should Fluffy require braces, there’s no color choice for orthodontic bands – the gray ones are the strongest!
For anthropomorphic cat owners who refuse to neuter their cat for fear of interfering with its masculinity, there are cosmetic feline testicular implants called Neuticles.
“Male cats that are allowed to roam only exacerbate the unwanted cat population problem,” says Neuticles inventor Gregg Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri. “Fortunately owners with their viewpoint now have the option of testicular implants.”
These vanity implants can be inserted at the same time as the neutering operation.
Miller’s company also manufactures FDA-approved silicone eye implants that can be inserted to improve the cosmetic appearance of a cat that has lost an eye, so that the face doesn’t look lop-sided.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Recently, orthopedic and reconstructive surgeons at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, North Carolina performed groundbreaking surgery on a cat born without back feet. The technique used is called an osseo-integrated implant and involved inserting a thin steel shank into the leg bone allowing bone to grow around it in the same way it does around a hip replacement socket. The steel pin is concealed by a cosmetic prosthetic closely resembling a cat’s paw.
If proved consistently successful, this surgery raises new hope for both animal and human amputees, as this type of surgery and cosmetic casing will replace the current leg devices that have to be strapped on to patients.
This article is from CatFancy Magazine