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How to Help a Cat Recover from Surgery

After your cat's surgery, a little extra love and attention are going to be required in order for your pet to fully recover. In today's post, our Oklahoma City vets share some strategies for caring for your feline friend as they recover from surgery.

Always Follow the Post-Op Instructions

You are bound to feel anxious 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 self as quickly as possible.

Following your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your kitty at home while they recover. It is critical that you carefully follow these instructions. If you have any questions about any of the steps, please contact your veterinarian. If you get home and realize you forgot something about your cat's aftercare, don't be afraid to call and clarify.

Preventing Your Cat From Jumping

Without a doubt, your veterinarian will advise you to restrict your cat's movements for a specified period of time (usually a week) following surgery. Jumping or stretching too quickly can disrupt the healing process and cause the incision to reopen.

Fortunately, few procedures necessitate extensive crate or cage rest to help your cat recover, and most outdoor cats will cope well with staying indoors for a few days while they recover. Continue reading for specific tips 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 in your home, the less likely your cat is to be able to lie 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 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 & 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 and vigilant to their activity. You cannot try and correct behavior you cannot see, and if your cat does reinjure themselves 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 Cat Won't Eat Following Surgery

It is not uncommon for a general anesthetic to cause your cat to feel slightly nauseated, implying that they 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 their 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 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 explain the appropriate dosage, how frequently you should administer the medication, and how to do so safely. Follow these instructions precisely to avoid unnecessary pain during recovery and to reduce the risk of side effects. If you have any doubts about any of the instructions, ask more questions.

Following surgery, veterinarians will frequently prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers 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 give human medications to your cat without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that make us feel better are harmful to our four-legged companions.

Keeping Your Pet Comfortable at Home

It's critical to provide your cat with a comfortable and quiet place to rest after surgery, away from the hustle and bustle of your home, including other pets and children. Making a soft and comfortable bed for your cat and giving them plenty of space 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 do not necessitate crate rest for your cat, if they had orthopedic surgery, part of their recovery will include a strict restriction on their movements. If your vet recommends crate rest for your cat after surgery, there are some steps you can take to ensure they are as comfortable as possible while confined.

Make sure your pet's crate is big enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If your cat wears a plastic cone or an e-collar to prevent licking, you may need to purchase a larger crate. Don't forget to leave plenty of space for your cat's water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and unpleasant place to spend time, as well as cause bandages to become wet and soiled.

Dealing With Stitches & Bandages

Stitches placed on the inside of your pet's incision will dissolve as the wound heals.

If your cat has stitches or staples on the outside of their incision, your vet will need to remove them about 2 weeks after the procedure. Your veterinarian will inform you of the type of stitches used to close your pet's incision and any necessary follow-up care.

Keeping bandages dry at all times is critical to allowing your cat's incision to heal quickly.

If your cat goes outside, cover the bandages with cling wrap or a plastic bag to keep wet grass or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin. Remove the plastic covering when your pet returns inside, as leaving it on may cause sweat to accumulate under the bandage, leading to infection.

Caring for the Incision Site

Cat owners frequently struggle to keep their feline companion from scratching, chewing, or otherwise interfering with 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 products like post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Recovery Times for Cats After Surgery

Our veterinary team has discovered that soft tissue surgeries such as abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries such as c-sections or spays and neuters are more likely to be successful than operations involving bones, joints, ligaments, or tendons. Soft-tissue surgeries are typically healed in two to three weeks, with full recovery taking about a month and a half.

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 require 6 months or more for complete recovery.

Here are a few pointers from our Plains veterinarians to help you keep your cat happy and comfortable while they recover at home:

Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic

During our surgical procedures, we use general anesthetics to make your pet unconscious and prevent them from feeling any pain. However, it may take some time for the effects of the procedure to wear off.

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 allows your vet to monitor her recovery, look for signs of infection, and change her bandages properly.

Your pet's veterinary team has received wound dressing training. Bringing your pet in for a follow-up appointment allows this process to take place, as well as for them to assist in keeping 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.

If your cat needs surgery, contact our compassionate Oklahoma City vet team to book an appointment. Our skilled veterinarians are ready to care for your feline friend.

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Putnam North Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our team is passionate about the health and well-being of dogs and cats from across Oklahoma City. Get in touch today.


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