Insta photo: @chobyne
Like their human companions, our cats sometimes have to go under the knife to alleviate pain, solve health problems, or even save their lives. Let's look at some common questions about how to care for your cat after surgery.
What are the common cat surgeries?
Sterilization - calledneutering for males andspaying for females - is the most common surgery cats undergo. It helps control the feral cat population, cuts down on unwanted behaviors, and reduces the risk of diseases like feline leukemia, feline AIDS, and testicular cancer.
Bladder stone surgery, or cystotomy, is another frequent procedure. Unlike sterilization, when cats are usually in and out of the vet's office in a day, bladder surgery may require a three-day stay and a two-week recovery at home.
Other cats go through abdominal hernia surgeries. A hernia occurs when the muscle wall tears, allowing internal organs to slip through. Although hernia closure is a minor operation, cat parents still want to take caution with their animals for a few days.
Sometimes vets recommend oral or dental surgery for cats. Usually, these surgeries are reserved for tumors, jaw fractures, and inflammation of the mouth because they can cause a lot of pain for our furry friends.
What can go wrong after my cat has surgery?
Our pets may not worry about their surgeries, but as caregivers, we sure do! Things that can go awry include:
No appetite for food or water. Don't worry if your cat won't eat or drink right after surgery. Your vet will probably encourage you not to give him food right away, anyway. If you feel like your cat should've started eating or drinking by now, it's fine to call your vet.
Seeming lethargic and depressed. Sometimes our pets don't return to their old selves right away. It can take a few days for the effects of surgery to wear off. Don't feel like your male cat is upset that you've had him neutered or that your pet has entered a spiral of depression. Most likely, they'll snap out of it. If your cat starts to hide, she may be in pain. Call your vet.
Twitching or limping. Often, limping is a sign that something's not right, and twitching can indicate a reaction to the anesthesia. These are not normal behaviors after surgery, and we recommend a call to the vet's office.
Giving off bad smells. Signs of infection include excessive swelling, foul odors, bleeding, or bruising. For these, call the vet. A little redness and mild swelling is to be expected though.
Wheezing or nausea. Many animals vomit after surgery so there's probably no need to grow concerned. If it persists for more than 24 hours or happens after bowel surgery, call the vet. Wheezing, however, can be a sign of a serious reaction. If that happens, call the vet or emergency animal clinic immediately.
How can I give my cat good post-surgery care?
Your vet should give you detailed instructions on how to care for your cat after his or her specific surgery. We're cat lovers but not vets, so we'll share a few general pointers that can make your cat feel especially loved during a difficult time.
Pain meds. Most likely, your vet will tell you how much to administer and when. Be sure to ask questions about side effects before you leave the vet's office. Unless directed by your vet, do not give human medication - especially pain relievers - to your pets.
Stitches. Sometimes, cats get staples or glue instead of stitches. No matter, you'll want to keep your cat's incision from getting wet. Don't groom, scratch, or brush the area, and don't let your cat bother it. The vet can help by giving the animal a cone or collar that prevents him from reaching his incision.
Confinement. Most vets say to restrict activity after surgery since some medications can slow a cat's reflexes. If the cat has to be confined, you'll want to make sure he or she has access to water, a litter box, low-energy toys, and vet-approved treats.
Litter. After your cat's surgery, switch to shredded paper to avoid dust. For recently neutered male cats, stick with the paper litter for at least a week since these animals can get sores at the incision site from other kinds of litter. Most importantly, make sure your cat has easy access to the litter box if you have him recovering in a closed room.
None of us wants to see our cats go through surgery, but it's part of life for most domesticated animals. In the long run, nearly all surgeries eliminate our cats' pain, lengthen their lifespans, and improve their quality of life. For more tips on how to care for your cat after surgery, head over to Catster or PreventiveVet.