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Matthew Sisk: Stitches heal well thanks to owner's diligence
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Leia returns for the removal of the sutures at the site of the skin incision for her spay.

Despite being a cat, and a young one at that, she hasn’t used her flexibility for nefarious purposes. That means she hasn’t gone all feline yoga pose and licked or chewed at her sutures.

I appreciate this, as even a minor amount of licking can cause tissue trauma and lead to the sutures failing. The stitches then don’t hold, and the skin can gape open.

An open hole in the skin is an invitation for infection or even trauma to underlying tender tissues. If the animal persists in chewing at the internal sutures, horror movie results can occur.

Intestines and the other internal organs are just that: internal. If they slip out of the body, bad things happen.

But again, Leia has been helpful to her doctor and allowed the sutures to heal. She’s a bit reluctant to roll over onto her back for removal, but she eventually allows the procedure.

Over the next few days, her owners should still watch for licking at the area, as removing sutures can cause just enough irritation to start the nasty cycle anew.

I ask how she’s doing, and her humans report she was a bit slow for the first two days, then acted as if nothing had happened. They had to work to keep her from doing too many acrobatic tricks.

Young animals sometimes encounter this problem. A surgery is completed, and they feel better before the affected tissue is healed enough to be structurally sound. An ill-timed jump or sprint can pop stitches. However, Leia’s owners were diligent, and her recovery is now complete.

Leia is now exactly 6 months and 2 weeks old and weighs 6 pounds. In a perfect world, I won’t need to see her until next year when her vaccines and physical examination will be updated. Until then, parasite protection is the rule.

Since Leia is an indoor cat, she will receive monthly protection from fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms and ear mites.

She politely head-butts me goodbye.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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