If your cat has undergone surgery, there are certain things you can do at home to help them recover quickly and return to their normal life. Our veterinarians at Stockton offer helpful tips and advice on how to facilitate your cat's recovery 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. If you get home and realize you've misunderstood something about your cat's aftercare, don't hesitate to call and clarify.
Recovery Times for Cats After Surgery
Our veterinary team has found that pets recover faster from soft tissue surgeries, such as reproductive surgeries (C-sections or spays & neuters) or abdominal surgeries, than from procedures involving tendons, bones, ligaments, or joints. Soft tissue surgeries typically heal in 2 to 3 weeks and take around 6 weeks to fully recover.
On the other hand, parts of the body that have undergone orthopedic surgery (involving ligaments, bones, and other skeletal structures) tend to heal much more slowly. About 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 veterinarians will share some tips on how to keep your cat comfortable and content during their recovery 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.
General anesthetics can cause temporary shakiness on their feet or sleepiness. These are normal side effects that should fade with rest. A temporary loss of appetite is also a common side effect in cats recovering from anesthesia.
Diet & Feeding Your Cat After Surgery
After a surgical procedure, your cat may feel a bit nauseous and experience a loss of appetite due to the effects of general anesthesia. It's best to feed your pet something light like chicken, fish, or a quarter of their regular food. It's normal for your cat not to eat much after surgery, so keep a close eye on them.
Within 24 hours, their appetite should return, and they can resume their regular diet. However, if your cat still isn't eating after 48 hours, it could indicate an infection or pain, so it's important to contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon.
Pet Pain Management
When taking your cat home after surgery, a veterinary professional will provide you with information on the pain relievers or other medications that have been prescribed for your pet. This will ensure that you can manage any post-operative pain or discomfort your cat may experience. They will explain the appropriate dosage, frequency of administration, and how to give the medication safely. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to reduce the risk of side effects and to avoid any unnecessary pain during recovery. If you have any questions or concerns, it is recommended that you ask for clarification.
After surgery, it is common for veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers to prevent infection and discomfort. If your cat is anxious or hyperactive during this time, our veterinarians may prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm during the healing process.
It is important to never give your cat any human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that are safe for humans can be toxic to our furry friends.
Keeping Your Cat Comfortable At Home
While your cat is recovering from surgery, providing a comfortable and quiet place for your kitty to rest is critical, away from the hustle and bustle of your home, including other pets and children. Setting up a comfortable and soft bed for your cat and providing plenty of space for them to spread out will help prevent excessive pressure on any one part of their body.
How to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery
Your veterinarian will most likely advise you to restrict your pet's movement for a specified period (usually a week) following surgery. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and even cause the incision to reopen, especially after fracture repairs or other orthopedic surgeries requiring rest.
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
After orthopedic surgery, your cat may require crate rest to aid in their recovery. It is important to take precautions to ensure their comfort during this time. Your pet's crate should be spacious enough for them to stand and turn around, and if they wear a cone or e-collar, a larger crate may be necessary.
Don't forget to include space for food and water dishes, as spills can cause discomfort and soiling of bandages. If your cat begins to feel bored during cage rest, check with your vet on the possibility of limited periods of play and interaction outside the crate. Additionally, feeding enrichment can help alleviate boredom during extended periods of crate rest.
Stitches & Bandages
After your pet's surgery, the stitches inside their incision will dissolve as it heals. However, if your cat has stitches or staples on the outside of their incision, your vet will need to remove them about two weeks later. Your vet will also inform you about the type of stitches used and any necessary follow-up care.
To promote faster healing of your pet's surgical site, it is crucial to keep their bandages dry at all times. If your pet goes outside, you should cover the bandages with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent wet grass or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin. However, when your pet returns home, you should remove the plastic covering to avoid sweat accumulation, which can lead to infection.
The Incision Site
Cat owners will frequently find it difficult to prevent their pets from scratching, chewing, or otherwise tampering with the site of their surgical incision. To keep your pet from licking their wound, use a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in soft and hard versions).
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
During your cat's follow-up appointment with the vet, they will assess your cat's recovery, look for any signs of infection, and change their bandages if necessary.
Our highly trained veterinary team at Rosemarie Pet Hospital has the expertise to dress surgical sites and wounds properly. By bringing your cat to our veterinary hospital for a check-up, we can ensure that their healing progress is on track.
Additionally, we are available to address any concerns or questions 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.