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Caring for Your Cat After Surgery

Helping Your Cat Recover after Spay, Neuter, or Other Procedure

By Mary Kearl. January 29, 2013 | See Comments

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Caring for Your Cat After Surgery

Read up on the guidelines for helping ensure your cat's healthy recovery from common surgeries and procedures, like spaying or neutering.

If your loved one needs surgery or other procedure, and you’re wondering how to make sure your cat enjoys good health and comfort afterward, a good place to start is asking your pet’s vet or surgeon about expected outcomes and what follow-up care is necessary.

Below are some general guidelines for helping ensure your animal’s healthy recovery from common surgeries and procedures, including spaying or neutering, vaccines, and microchipping.

Care Upon Discharge

After bringing your little one into a quiet, comfortable and warm home, take note of following:

Do

  • Expect your kitty to have lower energy levels: Your pal may feel like resting for up to a few days.
  • Expect a little redness of the skin: This is a completely normal occurrence. It becomes a problem when it lingers on past a couple of days.

Don’t

  • Feed your pet too soon: Your pet will likely not be allowed to eat food until the next day.
  • Give too much water too soon: Your vet will likely recommend serving only a small amount of water in the evening. Overdoing it may cause nausea in your feline.
  • Pet, brush, groom, bathe, or otherwise come into contact with the area where stitches were sewn or a needle or microchip was inserted.

For Up to a Week to Two Weeks Following the Procedure, to help your pet heal properly:

Do

  • Limit activity, particularly running, jumping and play with other pets or people. Mild exercise is allowed.
  • Keep your cat indoors: In some instances, your vet may suggest confining your cat to a crate or small room, particularly if you need to leave your pet alone for an extended amount of time.
  • Limit your pet’s access to hiding spots so you can better observe their recovery and be on the lookout for any unusual symptoms. Your cat may be likelier to hide after surgery.
  • Avoid giving your cat a bath: The incision should not get wet.
  • Think about switching from traditional litter to shredded paper, as the dust from litter could lead to an infection.
  • Examine the site of the procedure regularly: Take note and speak with your animal’s vet or surgeon if discharge, swelling, or an opening at the site of the procedure are observed.
  • Keep male cats who haven’t been fixed away from your female cat until she has recovered if she was in heat before getting spayed. Though she can’t reproduce anymore, she still could attract male cats, and contact with another cat could hamper her recovery.
  • Keep your male cat who has just been neutered away from females who haven’t been fixed: Neutered males can still get female cats that haven’t been fixed pregnant up to 30 days after the procedure.

Don’t

  • Introduce a new diet to your little buddy -- unless recommended by your vet. Doing so could cause unpleasant symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea, to develop.
  • Let your cat lick or otherwise disturb the stitches: A pet cone may be necessary to help keep your pet from disturbing the site of the procedure.
  • Use ointments, creams or other products that could disrupt the natural healing process (unless otherwise directed).

Contact Your Vet If You Observe These Symptoms Following the Procedure

  • Continuous bleeding or leakage from the part of the body that was operated on
  • Intermittent bleeding or leakage from the surgery site for at least a full day or more
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Significantly redder skin
  • Strong body odor
  • Unusual discharge
  • Pale gums
  • A higher or lower body temperature
  • Shivering
  • Poor stability when walking or standy
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble urinating or defecating
  • Blood in your pet’s urine
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Loss of appetite
  • If your feline has received a vaccination, signs of trouble include a swollen face, hives, limping, drooling, itchiness, or pain or swelling where the vaccine was given
  • If your pet is experiencing discomfort, do not administer human pain meds, which could be very detrimental to your loved one; offer only pet pain meds that have been recommended, following your vet’s dosing guidelines

For minor procedures, your pet’s daily routine should resume within a couple of weeks. Others may require maintaining this level of care for a few weeks.

More on Caring for Your Cat

When to Take a Cat to the Vet
Litter Box Training for Your Cat
How to Treat a Cat's Wound

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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