Did your cat recently have surgery and you want to offer them the best home care? Learn more about how to help your cat after surgery, what foods they should eat, how to make them feel as comfortable as possible and what signs might be alarming. Surgeries are something a cat is almost bound to go through, even if it is an elective surgery so it is very important to be prepared and have everything you need in order to give your special cat the best experience you can.
What are the most common cat surgeries?
Why does my cat need surgery? There are two different kinds of surgeries that are done in animals. Elective surgeries and emergencies. Elective surgeries include any dental work, spaying/neutering or any plastic surgery. The last is not very common and is only used in cases where cats participate in ‘beauty’ competitions. Some people remove tails, ears, even claws for the sole purpose of the aesthetic value. We do not support these kinds of surgeries as we believe this harms the well being of cats. Spaying or neutering are surgeries that remove the reproductive organs in females and males, respectively and are procedure surgeries. These are usually done in a matter of minutes (from 5-20 minutes), depending on the breed, age and health condition your cat is in. Spaying and neutering are recommended by veterinarians because stray animal populations are extremely high, and this can pose a danger to cat and human health. Dental work is considered a surgical procedure because anesthesia is required to remove the tartar that builds up in a cat’s teeth.
Emergency surgeries are the ones that must be done as there is a certain condition threatening the life of a patient or something that can be done to improve a patient’s life. For example, an abscess removal can be a simple kind of surgery. An abscess may not kill a patient, however, the pain it causes and the structures it compresses can cause the cat’s quality life to diminish and make it harder to get daily tasks done. Therefore, the abscess must be removed. Another reason for surgery might be a heart surgery. If this surgery isn’t done it can put the patient’s life directly at risk. The kind of surgery your cat gets done will tell you how closely you need to watch your cat afterwards and the care you must give them.
After your cat comes out of the operating room, they will most likely be put into their carrier and start to look a bit dizzy with its eyes a bit open. An occasional ‘meow’ is okay, as this means your cat is waking up from the anesthesia and is breathing correctly. Don’t let them out of the box until they can correctly stand up for themselves. Try to keep a safe distance, but don’t let them out of sight for too long until they start to act like they usually would.
When taking your cat home, keep them in a closed box with a thin fabric. Cats get easily stressed during transportation, and the last thing you want is for a cat that has had a recent surgery, to get stressed. It is better for them to not see their surroundings because this can make them feel uneasy and give them a feeling to try to understand where they are or where they are going.
If you can, leave them in a room far away from any disturbing sounds or anything that might cause a heightened reaction in them. You want them to feel completely calm and safe so that this way they can go back into their sophisticated cat state, as they always are. Vomiting is normal the first day after surgery. The medications given before, during and after the surgery might cause a bit of gastritis or trouble in your cat’s tummy. However, make sure they are eating and drinking the next day. What about anesthesia?
How long does it take to wear off?
Keep in mind that a patient is always stabilized before a veterinarian administers anesthesia. There is also an examination done by an anesthesiologist where he/she gives your cat a check up to make sure they identify the risks and this way, are able to choose between different medications. There is always a risk of anesthesia, but it is usually very low as long as it has been performed by a highly skilled veterinarian. The anesthesia can take up to 24 hours to wake up from the anesthesia, depending on the kind of surgery that was performed.
When can I feed my cat?
Your cat can eat when feeling better, at least 6-8 hours after the surgery. If they are not vomiting or feeling unwell, feel free to offer cat nip in small quantities to avoid giving them diarrhea. Don’t restrict their access to water.
Cats are very sensitive animals and can easily develop kidney disorders if they don’t have water offered to them. Make sure you understand all of the instructions given to you for the post-operative care. Your veterinarian might recommend a soft diet instead of regular kibble (depending on the surgery). Fresh water is a must and keeping the food dish nearby is also very important. Sometimes some owners don’t keep in mind that cats won’t walk as much during the first couple of days after surgery and will feel so tired or dizzy, they will prefer being thirsty instead of having to walk across the living room to get a drink of water.
What to do if my cat is licking or bothering its stitches?
Something you should heavily consider is using an Elizabethan cone after surgery. Since animals don’t understand that they’ve been through a serious procedure and the importance of stitches, they might think they’re foreign bodies attached to them and might want to remove them by biting, licking or scratching. By using a cone, you’ll be able to create a barrier between your cat’s head and the wound which won’t let them access the stitches. It is very common for surgery wounds to open back up after the procedure has been done, but this is most common in cat’s who’s owners don’t keep a close eye on them afterwards.
If your cat loves the great outdoors and is allowed to go outside, try not to let them out in the first 7-10 days. Although we strongly recommend not letting cats go outside because they can catch diseases, get into fights or bring dead animals into your home, we understand that there are some people that allow this and we respect it. However, the first couple of days after surgery should be totally indoors. Make sure that if your cat is expecting to go outside, they don’t have any stitches left over. The last thing you want is for your cat to come home with a hernia!
When should I consider visiting the veterinarian?
There are some signs you should be aware of that your cat’s veterinarian will tell you to keep an eye on after the surgery. These include the signs of infection; redness, swelling, loss of function, build up of fluid or heat. After surgery, a vet always applies a small preventive dose of antibiotic to avoid bacterial colonization and have a good start. The rest is up to the care you give your cat. Always clean the wound as many times as your veterinarian tells you with the correct materials. Some of them might be saline solution, chlorhexidine, or gauze. Keep these on hand after the surgery and remember, when you clean a wound, always use a circular motion outwards, to avoid bringing surface bacteria into the wound.
If your cat is vomiting or experiencing any symptoms that might worry you, go to the veterinarian immediately. These might be symptoms of shock or a bacterial infection.
Create a comfortable and safe environment for your cat. Remember you are bringing home a highly sensitive patient that is delicate and needs a quiet environment to be able to heal.