Cat Recovering from Surgery

If you want to get your cat back to their normal activities quickly after surgery, it is vitally important to know how to properly care for them. Here, our exceptional veterinary team in Ruckersville provide some advice on how to care for your cat recovering from surgery.

Always Follow The Post-Op Instructions From Your Vet

When your cat undergoes surgery, the recovery period can be stressful for both you and your pet. It's crucial to understand how to provide proper care once your feline companion is back home, so you can both return to your normal routines as quickly as possible.

Your veterinary specialist will provide you with all the necessary information to assist you in caring for your cat during the recovery process. It's important to follow these instructions diligently to ensure your cat's proper healing.

If you have any doubts or need further clarification, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian. They will be happy to answer any questions or provide additional guidance if needed.

Recovery Times for Cats After Surgery

Cats will typically recover from soft tissue surgeries - such as abdominal surgery or reproductive surgeries - more quickly than surgeries involving bones, joints ligaments or tendons. Often, soft-tissue surgeries are predominately healed within two or three weeks, taking about 6 weeks to heal completely.   

For orthopedic surgeries - those involving bones, ligaments and other skeletal structures - recovery takes much longer. About 80% of your cat's recovery will occur within 8 to 12 weeks following surgery, but many orthopedic surgeries take 6 months or more for complete recovery.

Here are a few tips from our Ruckersville vets to help you keep your cat contented and comfortable as they recover at home:

Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthetic

During our surgical procedures, we use general anesthetics to make your cat unconscious and prevent them from experiencing any pain during the operation. However, it takes time for the effects of the anesthesia to wear off after the procedure.

Some common effects of general anesthesia include temporary sleepiness and unsteady movement on their feet. These after-effects are normal and will diminish with rest. It's also common for cats recovering from general anesthesia to have a temporary decrease in appetite.

Diet & Feeding Your Cat After Surgery

Because of the effects of general anesthetic, your cat will likely feel slightly nauseated and will lose some of their appetite after a surgical procedure. When feeding them after surgery, try for something small and light, such as chicken or fish. You can also give them their regular food, but ensure that you only provide them with about a quarter of their usual portion. 

If you notice your cat not eating after surgery, don't worry. Their appetite should return within 24 hours after surgery. Once your cat's appetite returns, gradually start feeding them their typical food. If after 48 hours, your cat is still not eating, contact your veterinarian. This can indicate infection or pain.

Post-Surgery Pain Management for Cats

Before you and your cat head home after their surgery, a veterinary professional will explain the prescribed pain relievers or medications to manage your cat's post-operative pain or discomfort.

They will provide instructions on the dosage, frequency, and safe administration of the medications. It's important to carefully follow these instructions to ensure your cat's recovery is pain-free and to avoid any potential side effects. If you have any uncertainties, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.

Veterinarians often prescribe antibiotics and pain medications after surgery to prevent infections and alleviate discomfort. In cases where your cat experiences anxiety or is easily stressed, the vet may also prescribe sedatives or anti-anxiety medications to help them stay calm during the healing process.

Remember to never give your cat any human medications without consulting your veterinarian first. Many medications that are safe for us can be toxic to our furry companions.

Keeping Your Pet Comfortable At Home

To best help your cat after surgery, provide them with a quiet and comfortable place to sleep, away from anything that might cause stress like other pets or children. Make sure to have a warm, comfortable bed ready for your cat that allows them to stretch and alleviate any discomfort from surgical areas.

Restricting Your Cat's Movement

Limiting your cats movement for a specific time frame (typically a week) after surgery will likely be recommended by your vet. Sudden movement can be detrimental to the healing process and can cause incisions to reopen.

You might be wondering how to keep your cat from jumping after surgery. For some, a crate or cage can insure your cat recovers without complications from movement. Many procedures do not require crating thankfully, many cats do well with staying indoors for a few days while they heal.

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 prescribes crate rest for your cat after surgery, there are some measures you can take to make sure they are as comfortable as possible spending long periods of time confined. 

Make sure that your pet's crate is large enough to allow your fur baby to stand up and turn around. You may need to purchase a larger crate if your cat has a plastic cone or e-collar to prevent licking. Don’t forget to make sure that your kitty has plenty of room for their water and food dishes. Spills can make your pet's crate a wet and uncomfortable place to spend time, and cause bandages to become wet and soiled.

Dealing With Your Cat's Stitches & Bandages

If your pet's incision has internal stitches, they will dissolve as the incision heals over time.

For external stitches or staples on your cat's incision, your vet will need to remove them approximately two weeks after the procedure. Your vet will inform you about the type of stitches used and any necessary follow-up care.

It's crucial to keep the bandages dry to promote faster healing of the surgical site. If your cat walks around or goes outside, cover the bandages with cling wrap or a plastic bag to protect them from wet grass or dampness.

However, when your pet returns indoors, remember to remove the plastic covering to prevent sweat buildup under the bandage, which could lead to infection.

Your Cat's Incision Site

Cat parents will often find it challenging to stop their pet from scratching, chewing or messing around during your cat's recovery from surgery. A cone-shaped plastic Elizabethan collar (available in both soft and hard versions) is an effective option to prevent your pet from licking their wound.

Many cats adapt to the collar quickly, but if your pet is struggling to adjust, other options are available. Ask your veterinarian about less cumbersome products such as post-op medical pet shirts or donut-style collars.

Attend Your Cat’s Follow-Up Appointment

Follow-up appointments give your vet the chance to monitor your cat's recovery and ensure there are no signs of discomfort or infection and make sure your cat's bandages are being changed properly.

The veterinary team at Ruckersville Animal Hospital have been trained to dress wounds effectively in order to protect your pet's incision and provide the best possible healing. Bringing your pet in for their follow-up appointment allows this process to happen - and for us to help keep your pet’s healing on track.

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.

More questions about the aftercare process following your kitty's surgery? Don't hesitate to contact our Ruckersville veterinary team today!