If your cat or kitten needs to be spayed, you might be wondering what, exactly that means. This procedure prevents your pet from having unwanted kittens, and provides a number of other benefits like disease reduction and the prevention of unwanted behaviors. Today, our Tracy vet team shares tips on caring for your feline friend after her surgery.
The two types of spay procedures for cats are ovariohysterectomy (removal of reproductive tract) and ovariectomy (removal of ovaries only). Most veterinarians favor ovariohysterectomies since they remove both the uterus and ovaries, which, aside from preventing unwanted kittens, can prevent the development of uterine cancer later on.
Both ovariohysterectomies and ovariectomies can be performed as laparoscopic procedures, which means they can be performed with an endoscope. This surgical implement is a long, thin camera with a light that enables veterinary surgeons to use smaller incisions.
Post-Surgery Care For Your Cat
Aside from ensuring your cat gets plenty of love and rest, monitor your cat for signs of potential issues, such as:
- Lack of appetite for longer than 12 hours post-surgery
- Weakness or lack of energy
- Pale or white gums
- Swollen midsection (belly)
- Heightened or slowed respiratory rate
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Trying but unable to urinate
- No urine passed within 12-24 hours after surgery
Contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic right away if you notice these symptoms, as they could indicate a serious surgical complication such as internal hemorrhaging or damage to the urinary tract.
Your veterinarian's instructions for at-home care can include one or more of the following:
- Preventing your cat from physical activities like jumping, running, or climbing stairs
- Keeping an eye on the surgical sites and/or sutures
- Ensuring your car keeps her E-collar or surgical healing shirt on
Ensure Your Cat's Incision Heals Properly
If your cat's incisions open, this could lead to a number of medical problems that could necessitate veterinary emergency care. Get in touch with your vet right away if you note the following emergency veterinary Opening of your cat’s incision could lead to medical issues that may require emergency attention. You should call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any:
- Inflammation or redness
- Incision opening
Generally, your cat's sutures remain in place for about 10-14 days, which is about how long your pet needs to heal after her surgery.
Don't Let Your Cat Lick Her Surgical Incision
Cats often lick areas that are itchy or painful, but it's important to prevent your pet from doing so. One of the most common reasons for infections and sutures coming out too early is cats licking their surgical site, which is why your cat will need an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) or surgery shirt to deter her from licking or biting at the area.
Limit High-Energy Activities
Another common cause of reopened incisions is overexertion before full recovery; sutures require low-impact movements and lots of rest in order to heal properly.
Activities like playing with other pets, jumping onto her favorite cat tree, or running after a jingling cat toy can be risky, as sudden movements can re-open or rupture surgery sutures. Your vet will likely recommend limiting your cat's activities for 10-14 days after surgery.
Managing Your Cat's Pain After Spay Surgery
Since your cat can experience pain or discomfort from her procedure for 5-7 days after the surgery, it's important to make sure she's as comfortable as possible. Pain in cats can be hard to detect, as they tend to hide signs of illness and injury, but your veterinarian will be able to prescribe appropriate medications to help your cat feel more comfortable as she recovers.
Don't stop administering medications prescribed by your vet, unless approved by them, as untreated post-surgery complications (e.g. inflammation and pain) can cause further issues (e.g. irritating the surgical site by licking)
Never give human medications to your cat, as many of them are highly toxic to cats and can have fatal effects. For pain management advice or treatment, contact your veterinarian.
For the most part, vets don't give antibiotics to cats after a spay procedure, since it is considered a 'sterile procedure.' If your cat bleeds significantly, is older in age, or in heat during the procedure, she may be prescribed a course of antibiotics to prevent infection.
If your vet has prescribed antibiotics for your pet, make sure you finish giving your cat her entire course of antibiotics, even if she seems to be feeling better or back to her normal self. Incomplete antibiotic courses can lead to antibiotic resistance, and finishing your pet's prescription gives better protection against recurring infections.
Post-Surgery Litterbox Use
If your cat hasn't passed urine in 24 hours or more, this is a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary care. Get in touch with your primary vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital.
Ensure that your cat is passing urine and stool without trouble after she's undergone her spay surgery, as a rare but potential issue of the procedure could be an injury to the urinary tract; by monitoring your cat's litterbox habits, you're making sure that there are no emergency situations.
If your cat is able to urinate within 24 hours after her surgery, you won't have to be on as strict a litterbox-watching regimen.
Your cat might be constipated, but most cats should be able to use the litterbox without trouble after spay surgery. Undergoing anesthesia could trigger loose stools or mild constipation; each cat's case is unique.
If your cat experiences diarrhea for more than 24 hours, or is unable to pass stool (constipated) for more than 48 hours, get in touch with your vet quickly to receive instructions on what to do next.
Never give your kitty over-the-counter medications for humans, or food for humans that hasn't been approved by your primary veterinarian; many of these products are harmful to cats and could have toxic side effects.
Feeding Your Cat After Her Surgery
Although it could take 12-24 hours for her interest in food to return, your cat should begin eating after the anesthesia and stress from the surgery have worn off.
Follow the given instructions for feeding your cat, and contact your vet if your cat's appetite concerns you; some medications (e.g. oral antibiotics, some types of pain medication) used during the procedure might cause reduced appetite and nausea.
With time, rest, and lots of love and patience from you and your family, your cat will be on the road to recovery soon!
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.