After your cat's surgery, a little extra love and attention are going to be required to allow for the incision to heal without becoming aggravated, injured, or infected. In today's post, our La Pine vets share some strategies for caring for your feline friend as they recover from surgery, including what to do for a cat not eating after surgery, and how to keep your cat from jumping after surgery.
Always Follow The Post-Op Instructions
You will undoubtedly feel anxious in the days leading up to and following your cat's surgery, but knowing how to provide your cat with the care and attention they require will help your kitty return to their normal self as soon 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.
Preventing Your Cat From Jumping
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 Trees to Keep Your Cat From Jumping
- Laying 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 the Cat Inside Your Home to Keep them From Jumping
- If 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 the Cat Away From Other Cats to Discourage Jumping
- Socializing 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 Environment to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery
- The more stimuli there are in your home, the less likely it is that your cat will be able to lie down and relax. This increases the likelihood of them jumping significantly. While your cat is recovering from surgery, keep them away from children and other pets to help them relax and ride it out until they are back to their normal selves. Explain to everyone in the house that you need to keep the volume low for the next few minutes on behalf of your sleeping cat.
Make Use of a Crate to Stop Jumping From Cats After Surgery
- Confining your cat to a crate is a final resort for many cat owners, we do not want to encourage crate rest for days on end for any animal, however, if your cat proves especially willfully and 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 and Focused on Keeping Your Cat From Jumping
- Finally, 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 cause your cat to feel slightly nauseated, implying that it will most likely experience appetite loss following a surgical procedure. Try to feed them something small and light after surgery, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but make sure you only give them a quarter of their usual portion.
The appetite of your cat should return within 24 hours of surgery. At that point, your pet can gradually resume eating its regular food. Contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon if your pet's appetite hasn't returned within 48 hours. Loss of appetite in these prolonged cases 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 so you can manage your cat's post-operative pain or discomfort.
They will explain the dose needed, how often you should provide the medication, and how to safely administer the meds. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully to prevent any unnecessary pain during recovery and to eliminate the risk of side effects. If you are unsure about any instructions, ask follow-up questions.
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.
Keeping Your Pet Comfortable At Home
After their surgery, it's key to provide your cat with a comfortable and quiet place to rest, well apart from the hustle and bustle of your home, including other pets and children. Setting up a comfortable and soft bed for your kitty and giving them lots of room to spread out will help prevent excessive pressure on any one part of their body.
Helping Your Pet Cope With Crate Rest
While most surgeries won't require crate rest for your cat if they underwent orthopedic surgery, part of our recovery will involve a strict limit on their movements. If your vet prescribes your cat with crate rest after their surgery, there are some measures you can take to make sure they are as comfortable as possible spending long periods confined.
Make sure that your pet's crate is large enough to allow your fur baby to stand up and turn around. You may need to purchase a larger crate if your cat has a plastic cone or e-collar to prevent licking. Don’t forget to make sure that your kitty has plenty of room for its water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and uncomfortable place to spend time, and cause bandages to become wet and soiled.
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, your vet will need to remove them 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 frequently struggle to keep their feline friends from scratching, chewing, or tampering with their surgical incisions. To keep your pet from licking its wound, use a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in soft and hard versions).
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 Times for Cats After Surgery
Our veterinary team has discovered that most pets will recover from soft tissue surgery such as abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries such as c-sections or spays and neuters within two or three weeks.
Recovery from orthopedic surgeries, which involve bones, ligaments, and other skeletal structures, takes much longer. Approximately 80% of your cat's recovery will take place within 8 to 12 weeks of surgery, but many orthopedic surgeries take 6 months or longer to complete and recover from.
Here are a few tips from our Plains vets to help you keep your cat contented and comfortable as they recover at home:
Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic
We use general anesthetics during our surgical procedures in order to render your pet unconscious and to prevent them from feeling any pain during the operation. However, it can take some time for the effects to wear off after the procedure is completed.
General anesthetics can cause temporary sleepiness or shakiness on the feet. These are normal side effects that should fade with rest. A temporary loss of appetite is also quite common in cats recovering from general anesthesia.
Attend Your Cat’s Follow-Up Appointment
Your cat's follow-up appointment gives your vet an opportunity to monitor your kitty's recovery, check for signs of infection, and properly change your cat's bandages.
The veterinary team at La Pine Animal Hospital has been trained to correctly dress wounds. Bringing your pet in for their follow-up appointment allows this process to happen - and for us to help keep your pet’s healing on track.
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.