Following your cat's surgery, it is necessary to provide additional affection. In this article, our Villa Rica vets offer valuable advice on how to take care of your feline companion during the recovery phase.
Follow Post-Op Instructions
It's natural to experience anxiety before and after your cat's surgery, but having the knowledge of how to care for your cat and provide them with the necessary attention will help them return to their normal selves as soon as possible.
Upon completion of your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your furry friend during their recovery at home. It is crucial to adhere to these instructions diligently. If you have any uncertainties about certain steps, make sure to follow up with your vet for clarification in a call or your next pet wellness exam. In the event that you return home and realize you may have forgotten some aspect of your cat's aftercare, do not hesitate to call your vet and seek clarification.
Preventing A Cat From Jumping
Undoubtedly, your veterinarian will advise you to restrict your cat's movements for a designated period, typically around a week, following the surgery. Abrupt jumping or stretching can interfere with the healing process and potentially reopen the incision.
Fortunately, only a few procedures necessitate extensive crate or cage rest to facilitate your cat's recovery, and most outdoor cats can adjust to staying indoors for a few days during their recuperation. Continue reading to discover specific techniques to prevent your cat from jumping:
Take Down Cat Trees
- One effective approach to discourage jumping in your home is to lay cat trees on their side or cover them with a blanket. Keeping the cat tree in its upright position may tempt your feline companion to test their leaping abilities. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution, it is only a temporary measure while your cat recovers from surgery.
Keep the Cat Inside Your Home
- While it's understandable that outdoor cats may not be thrilled with the idea of being confined indoors, it is undeniably in their best interest during the recovery period. Allowing unsupervised outdoor excursions poses significant risks for cats that are prone to jumping. The unpredictable nature of their actions when out of sight makes it impossible to anticipate potential hazards. Thus, it is advisable to keep them within reach and restrict their outdoor access while they are recuperating from surgery.
Keep the Cat Away From Other Cats to Discourage Jumping
- Engaging in social activities during the post-operative period may not be ideal for your cat. When surrounded by other cats, your recovering feline companion is more prone to jumping and exerting themselves to keep up with their counterparts. If you have multiple cats, it is advisable to temporarily separate them while one is in the recovery phase after surgery.
Maintain a Calm Home Environment
- An environment filled with numerous stimuli can make it difficult for your cat to find a calm and relaxed space to rest. This heightened activity level increases the chances of them jumping. It is advisable to isolate your cat from children or other pets during their recovery period, as this will aid in creating a calm atmosphere for them to relax and recuperate. It's important to explain to household members the importance of maintaining a quiet environment for a short while to support your cat's resting needs.
Make Use of a Crate to Stop Jumping From Cats After Surgery
- For many cat owners, confining their feline friend to a crate is considered a last resort. We discourage extended crate rest for any animal, as it is not an ideal approach. However, in cases where your cat stubbornly refuses to settle down, you may have limited options. If crating becomes the sole solution to prevent your cat from jumping, it is advisable to consult with your vet regarding the possibility of using anesthetics to help your cat relax outside the crate. If your cat has a strong inclination to jump, it is recommended to keep them in the crate when you are away from home and only allow them to roam when you are present to supervise their activities.
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 re-injure 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 cats to experience slight nausea after undergoing a general anesthetic, which often leads to a temporary loss of appetite following surgery. When it comes to feeding your cat during the recovery phase, opt for small and light meals, such as chicken or fish. Alternatively, you can provide them with their regular food, but be sure to offer only a quarter of their usual portion.
Typically, your cat's appetite should return within approximately 24 hours after surgery. At this point, you can gradually reintroduce their regular food. However, if your pet's appetite does not resume within 48 hours, it is advisable to reach out to your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. Prolonged loss of appetite in such cases could indicate infection or pain and should be further evaluated by a professional.
Pain Management for Pets
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
As your pet's incision heals, any internal stitches that were used will dissolve on their own.
In the case of external stitches or staples on your cat's incision, your veterinarian will need to remove them around two weeks after the procedure. They will inform you about the type of stitches used and provide guidance on any necessary follow-up care.
Keeping the bandages dry at all times is crucial for promoting a speedy recovery of your cat's incision.
If your cat walks around or goes outside, it's important to cover the bandages with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent moisture from wet grass or dampness from seeping between the bandage and their skin. Once your pet returns indoors, remember to remove the plastic covering, as leaving it on can lead to sweat accumulation under the bandage, potentially causing infection.
Caring For The Incision Site
Cat owners often find it challenging to stop their feline friend 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 Times 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 mostly 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 recovery.
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
During our surgical procedures, we utilize general anesthetics to induce unconsciousness in your pet and ensure they do not experience any pain throughout the operation. However, it takes some time for the effects of the anesthetic to wear off once the procedure is finished.
Post-procedure, it is normal for pets to experience temporary sleepiness or unsteadiness on their feet as a result of the general anesthetic. These after-effects should diminish with adequate rest. It is also common for cats to have a temporary loss of appetite while recovering from the effects of 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 Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Winston-Salem have 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.