After your cat's surgery postoperative care will be needed for the incision to heal without becoming aggravated, injured, or infected. In today's post, our Kinston vets share some strategies for caring for your cat 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
After your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions about how to care for your cat so that they can 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
This is often one of the more challenging issues cat owners face after their feline's surgery. 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.
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, covering them with a blanket, or putting them in storage is a great first step to discourage jumping in your home. Leaving the cat tree up simply invites your feline friend to jump on it.
Keep Your Cat Inside 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, so it is best to keep them within reach while they recover from surgery.
Keep the Cat Away From Other Pets or Children to Discourage Jumping
- Socializing in the post-operative period might not be the best idea for your cat. When in the presence of others, your recovering feline friend is more likely to jump about the house to keep up with them. Try to keep your cat isolated from children or other pets to help them rest and recover.
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.
If Your Cat Won't Eat Following Surgery
It is not uncommon for a general anesthetic to leave your cat feeling slightly nauseated. Cats will often 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 pet’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.
They will explain the dose needed, how often you should provide the medication, and how to safely administer it. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully to prevent 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, your 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 are made for humans 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.
Caring For The Incision Site
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 will let you know what kind of stitches were used to close your pet's incision and about any follow-up care they will require.
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 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 for a complete recovery.
Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic
A general anesthetic is used during surgical procedures to render your pet 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, and temporary lack of appetite.
Attend Your Cat’s Follow-Up Appointment
Your cat's follow-up appointment allows your vet 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.