Has your cat just had surgery or has an upcoming procedure? Our Carlsbad vets share some tips on how you can care for your recovering feline friend following their operation.
Cat Surgery Recovery
It's normal to be a bit anxious and nervous leading up to and following your cat's surgery, but knowing how to provide your cat with the care and attention they need will help your kitty get back to their regular selves as quickly as possible.
After your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions about how to care for your kitty and recover at home. You must follow these instructions carefully. If there are any steps you are unsure about, be sure to follow up with your vet for clarification. If you return home and realize you've forgotten some aspect of your cat's aftercare, don't hesitate to call and clarify.
How to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery
No doubt that your veterinarian will recommend limiting your cat's movements for a specified period (usually a week) after surgery. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and may even cause the incision to reopen.
Thankfully, few procedures require a significant crate or cage rest to help your cat recover, and most outdoor cats will be able to cope well with staying indoors for a few days as they recover. Read on for specific strategies on how to keep your cat from jumping:
Take Down All Cat TreesLaying cat trees on their side or covering them with a blanket is a great first step to discourage jumping in your home. Leaving the cat tree up simply invites your feline friend to test their leaping luck. It is not the most elegant solution perhaps, but it is only for a short while well your cat recovers from surgery
Keep Your Cat IndoorsIf you have an outdoor cat, they may not be thrilled about being forced to stay indoors but it is truly in their best interest. Unsupervised trips outside invite disastrous consequences for jumping cats. It's impossible to know what your cat may get up to when they are out of sight, so it is best to keep them within reach while they recover from surgery.
Keep Your Cat Away From Other CatsSocializing in the post-operative period might not be the best idea for your cat. When in the presence of other cats, your recovering feline friend is more likely to jump about the house to keep up with them. If you own multiple cats, consider keeping them separate for a brief period while one is recovering from surgery.
Maintain a Calm Home EnvironmentThe more stimuli in your home, the less likely your cat is to be able to lay down and relax. This makes the odds of them jumping much higher. Try to keep your cat isolated from children or other pets while they are recovering, as this will help them chill out and ride it out until they are back to their usual selves. Explain to those in the household the need to maintain a quiet volume for the next short while on behalf of your resting cat.
Make Use of a Crate
Confining your cat to a crate is a final resort for many cat owners. If your cat proves unwilling to settle down, you may have no other option. If crating is the only solution for preventing your cat from jumping, consider speaking with your vet about anesthetics that may help your cat relax outside the crate.
If your cat is particularly fond of jumping, it is best practice to keep them in their crate when you are outside the home, only letting them wander about when you are present to supervise them.
Stay Alert & Keep an Eye on Your CatFinally, while it might go without saying, the most important strategy to keep your cat from jumping is to stay alert to their activity. You cannot try and correct behavior you cannot see, and if your cat does reinjure itself it is important to contact a vet right away, so cat owners should be especially attentive to their feline friends when they are recovering from surgery.
If Your Cat Won't Eat Following Surgery
It is not uncommon for a general anesthetic to leave your cat feeling slightly nauseated, meaning that they will likely experience appetite loss after a surgical procedure. When feeding them after surgery, try for something small and light, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but ensure that you only provide them with a quarter of their usual portion.
You can expect your cat's appetite to return within about 24 hours post-surgery. At that point, your pet can gradually start to eat their regular food again. If you find that your pet’s appetite hasn’t returned within 48 hours, contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. In these prolonged cases, loss of appetite can be a sign of infection or pain.
Pet Pain Management
Before you and your cat returns home after their surgery, a veterinary professional will explain to you what pain relievers or other medications they have prescribed for your pet with specific directions so you can manage your cat's post-operative pain or discomfort.
Vets will often prescribe antibiotics and pain medications after surgery to prevent infections and relieve discomfort. If your cat has anxiety or is somewhat high-strung, our vets may also prescribe them a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm throughout the healing process.
Never provide your cat with human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that help us feel better are toxic to our four-legged friends.
Dealing With Stitches & Bandages
Stitches that have been placed on the inside of your pet's incision will dissolve as the incision heals.
If your cat has stitches or staples on the outside of their incision, they will need to be removed approximately 2 weeks after the procedure. Your vet will let you know what kind of stitches were used to close your pet's incision and about any follow-up care they will require.
Ensuring bandages are dry at all times is an essential step in helping your cat's incision heal quickly.
If your kitty walks around or goes outside, ensure the bandages are covered with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent wet grass or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin. When your pet returns inside, remove the plastic covering, as leaving it on may cause sweat to build up under the bandage, leading to infection.
Caring for The Incision Site
Cat owners often find it challenging to stop their feline friends from scratching, chewing, or messing around with their surgical incision. A cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in both soft and hard versions) is an effective option to prevent your pet from licking their wound.
Many cats adapt to the collar quickly, but if your pet is struggling to adjust, other options are available. Ask your veterinarian about less cumbersome products such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.
Recovery Time for Cats After Surgery
Our veterinary team finds that most often, any pet will recover from a soft tissue surgery like abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries like c-sections or spays and neuters will be healed within two or three weeks.
For orthopedic surgeries, those involving bones, ligaments, and other skeletal structures, recovery takes much longer. About 80% of your cat's recovery will occur about 8 to 12 weeks after surgery, but many orthopedic surgeries take 6 months or more to complete and recover.
Attend Your Cat’s Follow-Up Appointment
Your cat's follow-up appointment allows your vet to monitor your kitty's recovery, check for signs of infection, and properly change your cat's bandages.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.