After your cat's surgery a little extra attention is going to be required to allow for the incision to heal without becoming aggravated, injured, or infected. In today's post, our Memphis 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 stop a cat from jumping after surgery.
Always Follow The Post-Op Instructions
Knowing how to provide your cat with the care and attention they need will help your cat get back to their regular selves as quickly as possible.
After your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions about how to care for your cat while they 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. 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, moving them away from where your cat will have access, or covering them with a blanket is a great first step to discourage jumping in your home. Leaving the cat tree up asking for trouble.
Keep Your Outdoor 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.
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
- The more stimuli in your home, the less likely your cat is to be able to lay 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.
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 leave your cat feeling slightly nauseated. They will likely experience appetite loss after a surgical procedure. When feeding them after surgery, try for something small and light, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but ensure that you only provide them with a quarter of their usual portion.
You can expect your cat's appetite to return within about 24 hours post-surgery. At that point, your pet can gradually start to eat their regular food again. If you find that your cat’s appetite hasn’t returned within 48 hours, contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. In these prolonged cases, loss of appetite can be a sign of infection or pain.
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.
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. Be sure to follow the instructions on dosage 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.
Never provide your cat with human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that help us feel better are toxic to cats.
Keeping Your Cat 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.
While most surgeries won't require crate rest for your cat if they underwent orthopedic surgery, part of the recovery will involve a strict limit on their movements. If your vet prescribes your cat with crate rest after their surgery, here 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 cat to stand up and turn around with an e-collar.
- Don’t forget to make sure that your kitty has plenty of room for its water and food dishes.
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 should 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.
Caring For The Incision Site
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
Most often, pets 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.
Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic
General anesthetics is used during surgical procedures in order to render your cat 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.
Effects of general anesthetic may include:
- temporary sleepiness
- shakiness on their feet.
- Temporary lack of appetite
Attend Your Cat’s Follow-Up Appointment
Your cat's follow-up appointment gives your vet an opportunity to monitor your cat's recovery, check for signs of infection, and properly change your cat's bandages.
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.