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Cat Recovering from Surgery: How to Help Them Get Better

Cat Recovering from Surgery: How to Help Them Get Better

You can help your cat return to normal life as soon as possible after surgery by doing some things at home. Our Babcock Ranch veterinarians provide tips and advice on how to help your cat recover after a procedure.

Follow Post-Op Instructions

You're probably nervous in the days leading up to and after your cat's surgery. That being said, understanding how to care for your feline companion after they return home is critical to assist your pet in returning to their routine as soon as possible.

After your cat undergoes surgery, your veterinarian will provide you with precise and comprehensive guidelines on how to look after your feline friend at home during their recuperation period. It is crucial that you follow these instructions strictly.

If you have any doubts or queries regarding any of the steps, please do not hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian. Even if you realize later that you may have misconstrued something about your cat's aftercare, it's important to call and clarify with your vet.

Recovery Times for Cats After Surgery

Our veterinary team has discovered that pets recover faster from soft tissue surgeries such as reproductive surgeries (C-sections or spays & neuters) or abdominal surgery than from procedures involving tendons, bones, ligaments, or joints. Soft tissue surgeries typically heal in 2 to 3 weeks and take about 6 weeks to heal completely.

Parts of the body that have undergone orthopedic surgery (involving ligaments, bones, and other skeletal structures) tend to heal much more slowly. Approximately 80% of your cat's recovery will take place 8 to 12 weeks after surgery. However, the average recovery time from orthopedic surgery is 6 months or longer.

Today, our Babcock Ranch vets will share a few tips to help keep your cat comfortable and content as they recover at home. 

Recuperating from Effects of General Anesthetic 

When your cat undergoes a surgical procedure, a general anesthetic is administered to put them in an unconscious state and ensure that they do not experience any pain.

However, it may take some time for the effects of the anesthesia to wear off after the surgery is finished.

As a result of the general anesthetic, your cat may experience temporary shakiness or sleepiness, which are common side effects that should gradually disappear with rest.

Additionally, a temporary loss of appetite is a typical occurrence in cats that are recovering from anesthesia.

Diet & Feeding Your Cat After Surgery

After a surgical procedure, your cat may feel a bit nauseated and experience a loss of appetite due to the effects of general anesthesia. To help your cat recover, you should offer small and light food options like chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but only a quarter of their usual portion. 

It's normal for cats not to eat after surgery, so monitoring them closely is essential. However, their appetite should return within 24 hours. Once your cat's appetite returns, they can gradually resume eating their regular food. If your pet still hasn't shown an interest in eating after 48 hours, contact your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon, as this could indicate an infection or pain.

Pet Pain Management

A veterinary professional will provide you with detailed instructions on how to manage your cat's post-operative pain or discomfort and prescribe appropriate pain relievers or medications before you and your cat leave the facility. It is crucial to follow these instructions precisely to avoid unnecessary pain during recovery and reduce the risk of side effects. If you have any questions or doubts, don't hesitate to ask for further clarification.

After surgery, veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers to prevent infection and alleviate discomfort. If your cat experiences anxiety or hyperactivity during the healing process, our veterinarians may recommend a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help them stay calm.

It is essential to never give your cat any human medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Many drugs that benefit us are toxic to our four-legged friends. So, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Keeping Your Cat Comfortable At Home

While your cat is recovering from surgery, it is critical to provide a comfortable and quiet place for your kitty to rest, away from the hustle and bustle of your home, including other pets and children. Setting up a comfortable and soft bed for your cat and providing plenty of space for them to spread out will help prevent excessive pressure on any one part of their body.

How to Keep Your Cat From Jumping After Surgery

Your veterinarian will most likely advise you to restrict your pet's movement for a specified period (usually a week) following surgery. Sudden jumping or stretching can disrupt the healing process and even cause the incision to reopen, especially after fracture repairs or other orthopedic surgeries requiring rest.

For the duration of your cat's recovery period, you can place them in a smaller area of the house and remove furniture that they may want to jump onto. 

Thankfully, few procedures require a significant crate or cage rest to help your cat recover, and most outdoor cats will be able to cope well with staying indoors for a few days as they recover.

Helping Your Cat Cope With Crate Rest

While most surgeries won't require crate rest for your cat, if they underwent orthopedic surgery, part of our recovery will involve a strict limit on their movements. 

If your vet recommends crate rest for your cat after surgery, there are some precautions you can take to ensure they are as comfortable as possible while confined for extended periods.

Make sure your pet's crate is large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. If your cat wears a plastic cone or an e-collar to prevent licking, you may need to purchase a larger crate. Don't forget to leave plenty of space for your cat's water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and unpleasant place to spend time, as well as cause bandages to become wet and soiled.

Cage rest can be difficult for cats, and boredom may set in. Ask your vet whether limited periods outside the cage for gentle play and interaction are possible. 

For cats that must be on extended cage rest, feeding enrichment can help relieve boredom. 

Stitches & Bandages

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, they will need to be removed by your vet about 2 weeks after the procedure. Your veterinarian will inform you of the type of stitches used to close your pet's incision, as well as any necessary follow-up care.

Another important step in assisting your pet's surgical site heal quickly is keeping bandages dry.

If your pet goes outside, cover the bandages with cling wrap or a plastic bag to prevent wet grass or dampness from getting between the bandage and their skin. When your pet returns home, remove the plastic covering, as leaving it on may cause sweat to accumulate under the bandage, resulting in infection.

The Incision Site

Cat owners will frequently find it difficult to prevent their pet from scratching, chewing, or otherwise tampering with the site of their surgical incision. To keep your pet from licking their wound, use a cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in soft and hard versions).

Many cats adapt quickly to the collar, but if your pet is having trouble, there are other options. Inquire with your veterinarian about less cumbersome options, such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Attend Your Cat's Follow-Up Appointment 

During your cat's follow-up appointment, the vet will assess your cat's recovery progress, examine for any signs of infection, and change the bandages if necessary.

Our team of veterinary experts at Animal Hospital at Babcock is highly skilled in dressing surgical sites and wounds.

Taking your cat to our veterinary hospital for a check-up ensures that we can monitor and facilitate your cat's healing process.

Any concerns or questions you may have will also be addressed during the appointment.

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.

Is your cat going to have surgery at Animal Hospital at Babcock? To learn more about how you can prepare for your kitty's aftercare, contact our Babcock Ranch veterinary team.

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Animal Hospital at Babcock is welcoming new patients. Our team provides compassionate care to you and your animal companions. Book your appointment today!


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