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How to Help a Cat Get Better After Surgery

How to Help a Cat Get Better After Surgery

You can help your cat return to normal life as soon as possible after surgery by doing some things at home. Our Parrish veterinarians provide tips and advice on how to help your cat recover after a procedure.

Follow Post-Op Instructions

You're probably nervous in the days leading up to and after your cat's surgery. That being said, understanding how to care for your feline companion after they return home is critical to assist your pet in returning to their routine as soon as possible.

Following your cat's surgery, you'll receive clear and detailed instructions from your vet on how to care for your kitty at home while they recover. It is critical that you strictly adhere to these instructions.

If you have any questions about any of the steps, please contact your veterinarian. Even if you get home and realize you've misunderstood something about your cat's aftercare, don't be afraid to call and clarify.

Recovery Times for Cats After Surgery

In contrast to procedures involving tendons, bones, ligaments, or joints, our veterinary team has found that pets recover more quickly from soft tissue surgeries like abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries (C-sections or spays & neuters). Soft tissue operations typically recover in two to three weeks and take about six weeks to fully recover from.

Parts of the body that have undergone orthopedic surgery (involving ligaments, bones, and other skeletal structures) tend to heal much more slowly. Approximately 80% of your cat's recovery will take place 8 to 12 weeks after surgery. However, the average recovery time from orthopedic surgery is 6 months or longer.

Today, our Parrish vets will share a few tips to help keep your cat comfortable and content as they recover at home. 

Recuperating from Effects of General Anesthetic 

During surgical procedures, a general anesthetic is used to render your cat unconscious and prevent them from feeling any pain. However, the effects of anesthesia may take some time to wear off after the procedure is completed.

Anesthesia for general use can temporarily make a person drowsy or unsteady on their feet. These are normal side effects, and they should go away after some rest. Another typical side effect in cats coming out of anesthesia is a brief loss of appetite.

Diet & Feeding Your Cat After Surgery

Because of the effects of a general anesthetic, your cat may feel slightly nauseated and lose some appetite 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 only a quarter of their usual portion.

Following surgery, it's normal for your cat to stop eating; keep an eye on them. Your cat's appetite should return 24 hours after surgery. Your pet can gradually start eating its regular food again at that point. If after 48 hours your pet's appetite has not returned, speak with your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. Appetite loss may be a sign of pain or an infection.

Pet Pain Management

Before you and your cat go home after surgery, a veterinary professional will explain 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 go over the recommended dosage, recommended dosing intervals, and safe administration techniques. To prevent unnecessary pain during recovery and lower the chance of side effects, strictly adhere to these instructions. Ask more questions if you have any lingering concerns about any of the directions.

Antibiotics and pain relievers are frequently prescribed by veterinarians following surgery to prevent infection and discomfort. If your cat is anxious or hyperactive, our veterinarians may prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm during 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 Cat Comfortable At Home

It is crucial to give your cat a cozy and peaceful place to rest while it heals from surgery, away from the noise and activity of your home, including other animals and kids. It will help to prevent undue pressure on any one part of your cat's body by setting up a cozy and soft bed for them and giving them plenty of room to spread out.

How to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery

Most likely, after surgery, your vet will advise you to limit your pet's movement for a predetermined amount of time (typically a week). After fracture repairs or other orthopedic surgeries that call for rest, sudden stretching or jumping can impede the healing process and even force the incision to reopen.

For the duration of your cat's recovery period, you can place them in a smaller area of the house and remove furniture that they may want to jump onto. 

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.

Helping Your Cat 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 recommends crate rest for your cat after surgery, there are some precautions you can take to ensure they are as comfortable as possible while confined for extended periods.

A pet should be able to stand up and turn around in its crate, so make sure it's big enough. You might need to invest in a bigger crate if your cat wears a plastic cone or an e-collar to stop it from licking. For your cat's water and food dishes, make sure to leave plenty of room. Spills can cause bandages to become wet and soiled, and they can make your pet's crate an unpleasant place to spend time.

Cage rest can be difficult for cats and boredom may set in. Ask your vet whether limited periods outside the cage for gentle play and interaction are possible. 

For cats that must be on extended cage rest, feeding enrichment can help relieve boredom. 

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 by your vet about 2 weeks after the procedure. Your veterinarian will inform you of the type of stitches used to close your pet's incision, as well as any necessary follow-up care.

Another important step in assisting your pet's surgical site to heal quickly is to keep bandages dry at all times.

If your pet goes outside, cover the bandages with plastic wrap or cling wrap to prevent wet grass or other moisture from getting between the bandage and their skin. Remove the plastic cover when your pet gets home because leaving it on could lead to sweat building up under the bandage, which could lead to infection.

The Incision Site

It can be challenging for cat owners to stop their pet from chewing, scratching, or otherwise tampering with the area of their surgical incision. Use a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in soft and hard versions) to prevent your pet from licking their wound.

Many cats adapt quickly to the collar, but if your pet is having trouble, there are other options. Inquire with your veterinarian about less cumbersome options, such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Attend Your Cat's Follow-Up Appointment 

At your follow-up appointment, your vet will check in on your cat's recovery, look for signs of infection, and change your cat's bandages. 

To properly dress surgical sites and wounds, our veterinary team at Ellenton Animal Hospital has received training. This process can start by bringing your cat in for a checkup at our animal hospital, where we can also make sure that your cat is healing properly. Additionally, we will address any worries or inquiries you may have.

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.

Is your cat going to have surgery at Ellenton Animal Hospital? To learn more about how you can prepare for your kitty's aftercare, contact our Parrish veterinary team.

New Patients Welcome

Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(941) 776-1100