Can a Cat Eat and Drink Before Surgery?

Pet owners are often so concerned about anesthesia that they delay or skip operations that might benefit their pets, such as complete oral care since those procedures require their pets to be sedated. As a veterinarian, I go to great lengths to ensure that every pet has a comfortable anesthetic experience, from pre-anesthesia screening to having a technician watch the process to keeping pets warm and pain-free before, during, and after the surgery.

Spaying your cat should be painless and straightforward, and it usually is. However, your cat may be at risk if he or she eats or drinks too soon before surgery. It may be difficult to bear a night of hunger screams, but it is necessary for your cat’s safety.

Why Are Eating and Drinking Harmful?

Before administering an anesthetic to your pet, make sure his stomach is empty. This is because anesthetic medicines can cause some pets to vomit, which can lead to pneumonia. How? The brain keeps the lungs breathing and the heart beating while your pet is anesthetized, but many other physiological functions are relaxed. The larynx, for example, controls items that should go to the GI tract from entering into the lungs by traveling “down the wrong pipe.” If a pet vomits while under anesthesia, the vomit may travel down the trachea and into the lungs rather than down the esophagus and stomach. The lung reacts fiercely when anything that shouldn’t be there gets into the lungs – this is called “aspiration” – and the result can be pneumonia.

Don’t take a chance with your life. It’s better to postpone an operation than to proceed in less-than-ideal circumstances unless it’s a life-or-death situation. We all make errors, so if you give your pet food or water while he’s under anesthesia, let your veterinarian’s office know; they’ll understand. Your veterinarian would rather be cautious than sorry, and elective surgery can always be done later.

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Surgical Procedures

Any operation involving bones, joints, muscles, or ligaments is classified as orthopedic surgery. Veterinary surgeons use various procedures to repair broken bones, including pinning, fixation, and plating. To maintain the bone in place as it heals, they attach metal structures to it. It can take months for bones to regain their normal strength. Knee joint problems, such as a dislocated knee cap, frequently necessitate orthopedic surgery to correct. Ligaments and muscles are reattached during orthopedic surgery.


Before the procedure, your cat will be sedated. During the process, he will not feel any discomfort and will be completely unconscious. In the hours leading up to surgery, your pet’s surgeon may take X-rays to gain a better look at your pet’s injuries. He may also screen your cat for anesthetic allergies to ensure that he is comfortable during the surgery. Depending on how thorough the operation was and how he reacted to the anesthesia, your pet may need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Preoperative Treatment

Request a copy of the presurgery instructions when scheduling orthopedic surgical with an animal hospital or clinic. If your pet is having surgery the following day, don’t feed him anything after 6 p.m. the night before. Later in the night, your vet may urge you to turn off his water supply. Please don’t feed your cat any medication in the days leading up to surgery unless your vet has approved it. Supplements and medicines may interact negatively with the anesthetic and painkillers used during the procedure.

Care Following Surgery

When you save your pet from the hands of the veterinarians, he may not be as thankful as you would like. If he’s been awakened from anesthesia recently, he’ll have no idea who you are or what’s going on. Maintain a safe distance from his carrier and avoid speeding on your trip home. Give your cat a tiny, peaceful space to call his own. A spare bathroom or a large box can be used effectively. According to your veterinarian’s advice, use a pain reliever before night or the following day. Give your cat some food and drink, but don’t be surprised if he prefers to nap overeating. If your cat vomits or continues to refuse food 24 hours after bringing him home, contact the animal hospital.

General Instructions

Your veterinarian will advise you on how long your cat should fast before surgery, but there are some general recommendations to follow. Food should be withheld for cats less than four months commencing four hours before the spay surgery. Cats above the age of four months should not eat the night before their procedure. Some veterinarians advise withdrawing food around midnight, while others suggest removing food at 9 p.m. Still, others advocate restricting food whenever you go to bed. The timing of surgery frequently determines the discrepancy in times. Food limitations differ by age because young cats’ blood sugar levels might drop dangerously low if they go without food for too long. Water should be withheld the morning of surgery for younger and older cats unless your veterinarian advises differently.

The Purpose of Fasting

Spay operation on cats requires anesthesia. The anesthetic renders the cat unable to swallow for a short period and relaxes the epiglottis, preventing food and liquids from entering the lungs. It’s possible for food and drink from a cat’s stomach to enter into its lungs if it vomits during surgery. This is prevented by having an empty stomach.

Aspiration Pneumonia

If food or liquid enters a cat’s lungs during spay operation, it is at risk for aspiration pneumonia. The stomach’s acid can burn the lungs’ lining, and the food in the lungs can cause a secondary bacterial infection. Coughing, nasal discharge, trouble breathing, and loss of appetite are all symptoms of aspiration pneumonia. The situation necessitates immediate attention because it is potentially fatal. It’s far better for a cat to go hungry for one night before surgery than to risk a lung infection.

Other Problems

Cats who are elderly or have medical issues such as diabetes may not go without meals for up to 12 hours. If your cat has a medical problem, inform your veterinarian and request special instructions on how long to go without food before spaying. Also, be sure you’ve removed all probable food sources. Keep the cat indoors, away from birds and mice, and secure any kitchen cupboards that a hungry cat might investigate.

Always consult your veterinarian prior to making any changes to your pet’s diet, medication, or exercise program. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian.

Pre-surgical instructions for cats differ depending on the technique and whether the surgery is an emergency or a planned treatment. Pay attention to your veterinary care team’s post-surgical instructions and call the hospital if you have any questions about your cat’s post-op treatment. The length of the surgery, the age of the cat, and the amount of pain medication required to keep your cat pain-free after surgery all play a role in how quickly your cat recovers. Our veterinary team comprises knowledgeable and compassionate cat people who are eager to assist you, and your feline buddy copes with the stress and anxiety that comes with cat surgery.

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Cats’ Food Consumption

Obese cats might develop significant health problems as a result of their constant overeating. Gluttonous cats must be taken to a veterinarian because an underlying disease can cause overeating.

Feeding that is carefully monitored

Some cats overeat for no apparent reason. Controlled feedings are the most effective strategy for these cats to maintain a healthy weight. Switch your cat from free-feeding to regular feedings to manage the amount of food he consumes. Give your cat one portion of food in the morning and another in the evening. Portion the food according to the serving size indicated by the manufacturer. Remove the meal after about a half-hour.

Nutritional Improvements

A cat may overeat if it isn’t getting enough nourishment from its food in some instances. This is a regular occurrence while eating high-fiber dry meals. Many nutrients travel through the cat’s system without being absorbed since cats can’t digest fiber. As a result, the cat needs to consume more food to feel satiated.

Average Increases in Eating

When cats are pregnant, they, like humans, eat more. A sudden increase in appetite could indicate pregnancy if your cat is not spayed and interacts with other cats.

Weather changes for outdoor cats and development spurts in younger cats are two further reasons for increased feeding. Consult your veterinarian to determine if your cat’s feeding habits have changed within normal ranges or if they are a sign of something more serious.

Overeating can have Medical Consequences

Because the worms are robbing them of some of their nourishment, cats with intestinal parasites consume more. A veterinarian should be able to deworm the condition. An overactive thyroid is another probable culprit, which can be detected and treated by a veterinarian.

Is it Acceptable for cats to drink water before surgery?

Pre-Surgical Instructions for Cats The night before surgery, we recommend fasting your cat but allowing them to sip water during the night. In most cases, this entails just picking up your cat’s food and allowing them access to water until you get to the veterinarian’s office.

What Happens if a Cat Consumes Food or Drinks prior to Surgery?

Before administering an anesthetic to your pet, make sure his stomach is empty. This is because anesthetic medicines can cause some pets to vomit, which can lead to pneumonia. If a pet vomits while under anesthesia, the vomit may travel down the trachea and into the lungs rather than down the esophagus and stomach.

How Long May a Cat Drink Water Before Surgery?

You are allowed to give your dog or cat water up to the time you depart for surgery. However, the night before surgery, you must not feed your pet after 10 p.m.

Should I Allow My Cat Outside Before Neutering her?

It’s advisable not to leave your kitten outside alone until it’s six months old, and neutering it (from 4 months of age) is required before providing it unsupervised access. If you’ve adopted an adult cat, you’ve undoubtedly been told to keep it in for at least two weeks to let it adjust to its new surroundings.

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